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Clutch Inspection, Repair and Replacement

By Joel Ilton on Friday, 8 September 2017

 

How Much Does a Clutch Cost?
Depending on your vehicle, and the style of driving you do, the cost of replacing your clutch and other components can vary dramatically.

For a small car, it can range anywhere from $500 up to $1,200, for larger vehicles and 4-wheel drives/SUVs, you would be looking anywhere between $800 up to $2000+.

Most newer vehicles are fitted with a dual-mass flywheel, which is designed to absorb vibration from the clutch, and provide smoother vehicle operation. The downside is that they can be expensive when it comes time for replacement.

Most vehicles purchased these days are selected with automatic transmissions. But most performance models and older vehicles are still using a manual transmission to select gears.

Part of the drivetrain on these vehicles, and one of the most important components, is the clutch.

Depending on your driving style, the clutch on your vehicle may last over 200,000km, but will eventually wear out and require replacement.

Operating your vehicle with a failing clutch can quickly damage other components of the transmission and increase the repair costs exponentially.

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How Does a Clutch Work?
The clutch system is what transmits the drive from the engine to the gearbox, but also allows the engine and transmission to be disconnected – for changing gears or placing the vehicle in neutral.

The main components of the clutch system include the master and slave cylinders, clutch disc and pressure plate, flywheel, clutch fork and the release bearing.

When you place your foot on the clutch pedal, the master cylinder pushes fluid down to the slave cylinder, which operates the clutch fork and pushes the release bearing against the clutch pressure plate, releasing the clutch pressure.

This allows the clutch disc to disconnect from the flywheel, which separates the engine and transmission, allowing for gear changes and for the transmission to be placed in neutral.

Once the pressure on the pedal is released, the opposite occurs. The pressure plate forces the clutch disc against the flywheel, transmitting power from the engine through the transmission.

Symptoms of a failing clutch

  • Hard to select gears
  • Engine RPM increasing with no increase in vehicle speed
  • Burning smell from vehicle
  • Clutch pedal not returning
  • Unable to depress clutch pedal
  • Shudder when changing gears

Common Clutch Issues<

Clutch Master Cylinder/Slave Cylinder failure
The clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder are the components that transfer the movement of the clutch pedal down to the gearbox and the clutch itself.

As the clutch pedal is depressed, the clutch fluid moves from the master cylinder down to the slave cylinder, which operates the clutch.

If either of these components start to leak, the clutch pedal may seem spongy, stay on the floor, not being able to shift gears correctly or clutch fluid leaking under the vehicle or into the cabin.

 

Clutch Fluid Leak
Clutch fluid is the same as brake fluid, and some vehicles actually share the brake and clutch fluid in the same system.

A leak in this system will cause issues with changing gears and the clutch pedal may feel spongy or stay on the floor after being depressed.

 

Slipping Clutch
Clutches are designed to slip a little when changing gears or taking off. When engaging the clutch, a little slip allows for smoother shifting and easier takeoffs, but should not slip at all when the vehicle is in gear.

You may first notice the clutch slipping when the vehicle is under load, such as going up hills, or accelerating to merge onto a highway.

A slipping clutch will overheat, which can cause damage to the flywheel and the pressure plate.

Clutch slippage is the first symptom of a worn clutch plate and should be inspected as soon as possible, to eliminate further damage.

 

Clutch Shudder or Vibration
This can be caused by oil leaking onto the clutch disc surface or a warped clutch disc or flywheel.

The vehicle may still be drivable, but it is advised that as soon as you start to notice the shudder or vibrations, to take it to a mechanic for inspection.

 

Clutch InspectionOur mechanics will test the operation on the clutch, inspect all fluid lines, master and slave cylinder and test drive the vehicle to identify any issues with the clutch system.

A quote will be provided for any repairs, if required.

Clutch ReplacementOur mechanics will remove the transmission of the vehicle, replace the clutch and pressure plate, the flywheel and slave cylinder (If required).

The clutch fluid will be changed, a bedding in procedure will be carried out, and a test drive completed to ensure correct operation of the system.

Why It’s Important to Have Your Clutch Inspected or ReplacedHaving your clutch system inspected and repaired is vitally important for the safety of you, your family and other motorists around you.

Ignoring the warning signs can also lead to expensive repair bills, as further damage may be caused by continuing to operate your vehicle with an issue.

How Much Does a Clutch Cost?Depending on your vehicle, and the style of driving you do, the cost of replacing your clutch and other components can vary dramatically.

For a small car, it can range anywhere from $500 - $1,200, for larger vehicles and 4-wheel drives/SUVs, you would be looking anywhere between $800 - $2000+.

Most newer vehicles are fitted with a dual-mass flywheel, which is designed to absorb vibration from the clutch, and provide smoother vehicle operation. The downside is that they can be expensive when it comes time for replacement.

If you notice any of these symptoms, have your vehicle inspected by one of AutoGuru's 1,600+ qualified workshops, or have a fully certified mobile mechanic come to your house or office – Too Easy!

 

Image credit: Peugot 206 - clutch service: Andrey Ivanov

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