For cars that are manual it is the clutch that is one of the key mechanisms and one that motorists would rather not hear there’s a problem with. Unfortunately, as with all car parts, clutches come with the same life span, usually at the time of mileage. So how can you spot the signs of a failure in the clutch before it occurs?
What’s the purpose of the clutch?
To appreciate why the clutch is so vital, it’s worth re-learning is it that the clutch does. It can be used to isolate engines from wheels, and is what allows you to shift gears, as well as getting to a complete stop while the engine is running.
Three main components are attached of the clutch – the plate for clutch, flywheel and pressure plate. If the clutch is activated when your feet are off of the pedal, the springs inside the clutch force all three parts in a way that the engine and the transmission are running at the same rate. When you push your foot down, spring is pulled away from the pressure plate from the clutch plate, so that the flywheel and the pressure plate rotate at different speeds – this allows you to shift the gears.
How long can a clutch last?
The life span of a clutch can be a question that is difficult to answer. There are lots of factors that influence how long it will last but generally they are built to last for between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. Most often, they last better than this if there is regular servicing and maintenance of the vehicle. But where you live and the type of driving you perform will affect the life of the car. for example, if you reside in a metropolitan area and spend much time in traffic!
A sudden and gradual failure
The clutches tend to fail in one of two ways – either sudden or gradually. In the event of a sudden failure the clutch stops completely and the car will not move. With gradual failure, you may experience problems like the car doesn’t stop once you press the clutch.
A sudden failure can be resulted from a broken ou a loose or damaged clutch cable, linkable or a failed master and slave cylinder for hydraulics. There can also be leaks in the hydraulic line or discs could be contaminated with something like dirt or even debris.
Failure with a gradual pattern is the most frequent scenario when your vehicle may have issues such as an extended clutch cable or a bent linkage. It could also mean the master and slave cylinders are failing. You might also have low hydraulic fluid or a damaged transmission mount. These issues may occur when you visit to get your MOTs, but the majority don’t.
The signs of failure
A sudden failure is an all-or-nothing scenario but with the gradual failures there are indications that indicate a problem. It is possible that the clutch feels soft, sticks to the floor, vibrates or your pedal seems to be loose. It could be that you hear grumbling noises when you push the pedal or you might be able to rev your engine, but experience slow acceleration.
Problems changing gears and a ‘slipping’ clutch that causes a momentary decrease in speed are also signs of a problem and is reason enough to take you to a expert for car repairs. You can make use of car diagnostics to determine if the issue is the clutch as well as check other important areas like brakes, tyres or even windscreens as well.
Give us a call when in need of a van clutch mechanic.