Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How a Cable Clutch System Works

Cable Clutch System

If you drive a car with a manual transmission, you know that to get your car moving, you depress the clutch pedal, choose a gear, and then give the vehicle a bit of gas. But have you ever wondered what’s going on in the shifting system of your car when you’re driving? Let’s talk a bit about clutches in general, and then we’ll discuss the cable clutch system.

How a clutch works

The clutch is what allows the engine to deliver power gradually to your vehicle when you’re starting out, and to move through the various gears while driving. Engaging the clutch sends power from the engine to your car’s transmission and drive wheels. When you push your foot down on the clutch pedal, the power transfer is stopped, but the engine keeps on working – it’s just not sending anything to the drive wheels.

In a manual transmission, the clutch is operated by means of either mechanical or hydraulic linkage. This type of clutch system usually works by means of a cable or shaft along with a lever. The shaft/lever linkage has a lot of parts, and a number of pivot points, including a cross shaft or equalizer, a release lever and rod, and the assembly that transfers clutch pedal movement to a throw-out bearing. In older vehicles, these pivot points have to be lubricated regularly to facilitate smooth movement and prevent wear. You don’t usually have to do this on newer vehicles because the pivot points are fitted with plastic bushings or grommets that don’t deliver a lot of friction.

The cable clutch

The cable clutch shifting system works in essentially the same way as any other clutch, but it has fewer pivot points. In fact, it’s wonderfully simple. It’s lightweight, and it’s the most common type of linkage in most cars that are on the market today. The cable connects the clutch pedal pivot directly to the release fork, eliminating practically all of the wear points that are found in shaft and lever linkages.

The only downside to a cable clutch is that if you own your car for a long time, the cables will eventually wear and stretch, and could even break. If the cable wears or stretches, you may find it difficult to put your car in gear. If it breaks, you won’t be able to shift at all.

The advantages

Because the cable clutch system has so few pivot points, there are fewer parts that will sustain damage through ordinary wear and tear. There’s a lot going on mechanically when it comes to getting your vehicle in and out of gear, and the simpler the system, the lower the likelihood of developing problems.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222 code means The manufacturer specifies a range of acceptable voltage to be produced from the throttle position...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...

Related questions

Q: Low clutch pedal and internal leak inside the car. What needs to be fixed and what's the price normally

Hi there. If you have a fluid leak inside the car then replace the clutch master cylinder if it is the leak, and then bleed system. Make sure to check the clutch slave cylinder for leaks also. A certified professional...

Q: Hard shifting, high revving

Hello. It is possible that the transmission is faulty and may need to be replaced for your 2007 Chevrolet Express 2500. It sounds like the transmission valve body is overheating and causing the shifting problem you are experiencing. The clutches...

Q: How do you check the manual transmission fluid?

Your car’s manual transmission needs fluid just like an automatic transmission does. It’s necessary for lubrication, for preventing friction and for maintaining pressure inside the transmission itself. If the fluid gets low, you may experience problems with shifting and driving....