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The Clutch: Still Useful?

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If you own a vehicle, then you know that maintenance is one of the basic elements to watch and respect. The main purpose of this maintenance is to prevent breakdowns, detect future problems and ensure that your vehicle remains in good working order. Now, it's very easy to check your brakes, your tires, check your fluid levels, etc. But not all the components that are important to the proper functioning of the vehicle are as easy to monitor. There is one component that requires special attention: the clutch.

What is a clutch for?

Usually, clutches are associated with manual transmissions.

To move a vehicle, you need to transfer power from the engine to the wheels. To do this, power must be sent to the wheels. This power will be transmitted through a crankshaft from the engine through the transmission and drive shaft. But you can't change gears simply by moving the gearshift lever. The engine and the drive shaft rotate at different speeds, and such shifting would seriously damage the transmission. That's why there is a clutch.

When you want to change gears, you depress the clutch pedal, which depresses a clutch release bearing. This presses the diaphragm spring and disengages the friction disc. With this, the transmission gears can rotate freely and you can change gears. When your left foot presses down on the clutch, you gently release the clutch pedal, which frees the bearing and thus the spring. The friction disc re-engages and gently allows the transmission and drive shaft to reconnect to the engine.

Is a clutch replaceable?

Just like brake pads, a clutch is a mechanical component that wears out over time. As such, it must be replaced after a certain number of kilometres. However, so far we have only discussed a manual transmission. It's a slightly different story with dual-clutch and automatic transmissions. A dual clutch uses two computer-controlled clutches to shift gears. This makes shifting quicker and avoids excessive loss of power and acceleration. They were marketed as smoother than manuals and faster than conventional automatics. However, with the latest automatic gearboxes we see coming onto the market, in many cases this is no longer the case.

Vehicle clutch components
Photo: Auto123.com
Vehicle clutch components

How many years is a clutch good for?

It all depends on the wear of the clutch plate. For this type of inspection and repair, it is always best to deal with a professional. You can always ask about the price of parts or for the best price to change your clutch.

The best price to change your clutch

To prolong its life, can you maintain your clutch?

With proper care, a clutch disc can last more than 150,000 km. But then again, it will depend on the way you drive and the environment in which you drive.

Indeed, one of the main causes of clutch wear is the driver. Holding the clutch pedal down for long periods of time puts pressure on the components. Therefore, to ensure longer clutch life, avoid all friction on the clutch disc.

There are several signs that your clutch is showing signs of fatigue. One of the first is if the pedal or gear lever moves with less resistance than normal. This is called a loss of grip. The next step is a slipping clutch. This causes the engine to run without the vehicle moving.

The opposite problem can also occur, in which a clutch sticks. Signs of this type of wear are a loud squeaking sound and often accompanied by a burning smell.

The act of driving involves the use of all of the driver's senses. Your vehicle will send you you signals, and you should listen for them and interpret them properly.