How a Clutch Engages and Disengages | YourMechanic Advice

How a Clutch Engages and Disengages

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In your car transmission, the clutch is a device that works to engage and disengage the moving parts of your drive shaft. For purposes of this discussion, we’ll focus on manual transmissions.

The moving parts are the transmission input shaft and the engine crankshaft. The engine rotates at different speeds, and the automobile transmission’s gears need to be shifted. When you’re shifting your car, the power of the engine is delivered to the wheels. That, in a nutshell, is how your transmission works.

The clutch

The clutch assembly contains a number of small parts, but the main components are:

  • Flywheel: This is connected to the crankshaft and spins with the motion of the engine.

  • Pressure plate: This is bolted to the flywheel. It’s spring-loaded, so it holds the assembly together and also releases the tension that allows it to rotate freely.

  • Disc: The clutch disc is located between the pressure plate and the flywheel. It has friction surfaces, something like a brake pad, that makes and break contact with the flywheel and the pressure plate.

  • Throw-out bearing and release system: The throw-out bearing and the release system work together to engage and release the clutch.

The transmission’s input shaft runs through the middle of the pressure plate, flywheel and clutch disc, taking the engine’s power and sending it to the wheels by way of the gears. Where the shaft enters the transmission, there is a bearing that takes most of the shaft’s load. In the center of the flywheel is a smaller bearing that centers the shaft so it can rotate as the clutch assembly engages and disengages. This is what the clutch disc is connected to.

The clutch pedal

When your foot is off the clutch pedal, everything spins together. When you press the pedal in, the assembly disengages. As you let the pedal out, the friction surfaces on the disc comes into contact with the pressure plate and flywheel, and you’re moving. The idea is to match the engine speed to the point where the friction surfaces engage so that you don’t end up stalling the engine.

Now you know how your clutch works. Do you know how to drive a manual transmission? Maybe it’s second nature to you. If it’s not, why not learn? Just make sure you don’t ride the clutch and end up stalling!


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Chris

21 years of experience
1861 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper Clubman - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Silverado, California
He arrived early, went straight to work, and it should have been quoted higher as it’s a Mini which takes longer than the average break job. He didn’t try to get more than the quoted amount. He even set out to replace a running light for me when he was finished. I thought there would hard sales telling me I needed more work but there wasn’t. Because he didn’t try to sell me more work, I will use him again. When I hired a mechanic I don’t want a salesman. 
Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Irvine, California
Chris again has provided great Service. Everything was great. I was very happy with the work and will definitely have him return for any other work.

Bryant

11 years of experience
408 reviews
Bryant
11 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryant has done great work on my car before, the latest work is no exception. He's very flexible, and goes the extra mile to get you back on the road.
Scion iA - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Carmel, Indiana
This is my first time using this service. I am very happy with it. Bryant was very knowledgeable and did quality work. I will use this service more regularly.

Edmar

21 years of experience
184 reviews
Edmar
21 years of experience
Chrysler 200 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Euless, Texas
Edmar always does a very good job. He's done a few different things on my car the last two years. Each job was performed very fast and top quality. Thank you once again.

Mazyar

7 years of experience
255 reviews
Mazyar
7 years of experience
Jaguar XF - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Lawrenceville, Georgia
He was early, courtesy and actually helped me save some money since i didn't need all the work that i thought i needed done. Honest guy. Very knowledgeable. Great attitude.

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