Clutch servicing.

02/12/2019

Clutch servicing, clutch replacement, how does a clutch work, worn clutch, burnt clutch, difficult to get into gear, clutch slipping, clutch pedal, diaphragm spring, pressure plate, clutch master cylinder, clutch slave cylinder, clutch repair

Leading up to the summer months, many of us are planning trips away with family or friends. With the likelihood of loading up our vehicles with kids, camping gear, luggage, strapping on boats, caravans or even box trailers it’s time to look at your clutch and drive-train. While this little friction disk handles all the torque generated by the motor, it’s more fragile than you might think.

If you have an automatic, the torque transfer is handled differently. Check out our article here! If you drive a manual, then you’re in the right place and should keep reading!

How does a clutch work?

The clutch assembly in a vehicle is designed to be a disconnect between the always-spinning engine and the rest of the drivetrain. The purpose of the clutch friction disk is to allow the torque from the engine to be applied to the gearbox in a smooth and controlled manner.

Sprung friction disk and clutch pressure plate on workbench waiting to be installed

In most modern cars the clutch system works similarly to the brake system. The hydraulic clutch master cylinder converts the clutch pedal movement into hydraulic pressure to push fluid down into the clutch slave cylinder. Inside the bellhousing the pressure plate will release and the friction disk will be free to spin between the friction disk and the engine flywheel.

Typically a clutch friction disk can last anywhere between 50,000 to 200,000kms or more, depending on factors including your driving style, how often you tow, and if you’re ever stuck in start-stop urban traffic. Clutches wear during normal use and it’s expected you’ll need to service it at least once in the lifespan of the vehicle.

What are the symptoms of a bad clutch?

In most cases there are symptoms of a clutch going bad before it finally gives up the ghost. In cases where you’re towing, or otherwise in a heavily loaded vehicle, the clutch slipping is something to look out for. You’ll know when it happens as the engine rpm will rise but very little acceleration will occur.

Usually a slipping clutch is accompanied by smoke and an awful smell as the organic materials in the clutch overheat and burn off. A significantly overheated and burnt clutch can glaze over the flywheel and friction plates and may never be the same again, fortunately most flywheels can be machined to reveal a fresh surface.

Another failure that we occasionally see is the pressure plate. The plate has a diaphragm spring that the slave cylinder acts upon. If the clutch has been subject to abuse, or if it is in a heavily modified vehicle, we can see the spring packs damaged or broken, resulting in complete failure.

Generally speaking, clutch issues are easy to spot. If you notice your pedal getting soft, or hear horrendous noises coming from the back of your engine area when the clutch pedal is depressed, this can be a cause for alarm.

Actually getting to the clutch on vehicles is a big deal. Most vehicles require drive shaft and gearbox removal at the very least, with some vehicles even requiring engine removal.

Since getting to the clutch is such a big job, it makes sense to replace other components while we're there. Items including engine rear main seals, throwout bearings, gearbox input shaft seals and clutch slave cylinders are all inexpensive items that we recommend assessing or servicing as preventative maintenance. Since getting to most of these parts after the fact will cost far more in labour than the actual cost of the part.

Here at Grease Monkey Autowerx we work with Exedy clutch replacement kits. We stand by their quality and offer options from original equivalent replacements to heavy duty options. If you’re planning on doing a lot of towing, heading off-road or have a performance goal then we’d recommend speaking with one of our qualified and experienced mechanics about a clutch replacement that meets your needs .

Vehicle up on hoist with gearbox removed to perform clutch service

What should you do if you’re having clutch issues?

In summary, if you’ve noticed any of the following symptoms, or are looking for clutch repairs and servicing in the Moorabbin area, we recommend you get in touch and book into Grease Monkey Autowerx.

  • Difficult to get into gear, grinding gears
  • Car shuddering when taking off from lights
  • Clutch pedal suddenly feels ‘lighter’ than it used to
  • Audible changes in how the vehicle sounds when clutch pedal is depressed
  • Strong smells when frequently changing gears
  • Engine rpm rising without the acceleration you were expecting

We offer vehicle maintenance, logbook servicing, wheels, tyres and wheel alignment needs in and around the Moorabbin area. We have qualified tyre fitters and trained auto technicians here ready to provide world-class customer service for you and your vehicle.

Grease Monkey Autowerx, 28/684-700 Frankston - Dandenong Rd, Carrum Downs VIC 3201 Ph: 03 7037 6211



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