A slipping clutch?
Many drivers have experienced a slipping clutch in their vehicle. It is a common wear and tear repair, but one that should not be ignored for too long. While clutch repairs are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of auto repairs, ignoring the problem can cause severe damage to the entire drivetrain making your repair bill skyrocket.
Knowing the parts of your vehicle’s clutch makes it easier to understand why clutches wear out and need immediate attention if you notice any slipping. The following are what make up the clutch system in your vehicle and what can go wrong to make your clutch slip.
• Worn throwout bearing
The throwout bearing is the part of the clutch that disengages the engine from a manual transmission. When the clutch is let out, the bearing then applies force to the clutch plate to re-engage the engine. The pressure wears on the throwout bearing requiring it to be replaced when it is no longer providing smooth shifting.
Ignoring a worn throwout bearing and allowing it to fail leaves you unable to put your vehicle in gear and adding an additional towing charge to your repair bill.
• Warped flywheel
The flywheel does four important things. It provides mass, inertia and rotation to keep your engine running, precisely weighted to balance your crankshaft, assists in starting your vehicle and provides smooth transition of power between the engine and transmission.
As the flywheel is continuously in motion, it can be subject to friction. This friction causes heat that can cause the flywheel to warp and eventually fail causing damage to both the engine and other components of the clutch.
• Worn out pressure plate
A very important component of a clutch is the pressure plate. Bolted to the flywheel, it exerts pressure against the clutch plate to hold it tightly against the flywheel allowing power to transfer from the engine to the transmission.
As it is bolted to the flywheel, it is also subjected to heat that can cause warping and failure. Friction can also cause it to wear down and compromise the correct pressure needed to provide a good power flow.
• Leaking slave or master cylinder
In most newer vehicles, you will find hydraulic clutch systems. The slave and master cylinder have seals that are not only under a great deal of pressure but are subject to temperature changes as well that can cause them to harden, crack, or shrink. Any slight change can cause a leak that will leave your clutch with no pressure to work properly.
Clutch fluid can range from almost clear when it is new, to dark brown as it is in use. If you notice a change in your shifting and a leak of any kind under your vehicle, it is always a good idea to get it checked out immediately.
• Faulty clutch disc
Between the pressure plate and flywheel is the clutch disk. Both sides are coated with a material similar to that on a brake pad. It provides smooth engagement or disengagement between the surfaces of the pressure plate and the flywheel. Just like brake pads, the surfaces of the clutch disc can wear down and warp as well causing slippage in the clutch.
Maintenance is always less expensive than repair and replacement, and as you can see, your clutch has a number of components that can be victims of wear and tear. Paying attention to your car is the key to keeping it in great working order and keeping cost of repair bills down. If your clutch is slipping, do not wait until the entire system fails, take it to your transmission shop today!