Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How a Clutch Engages and Disengages

How a Clutch Engages and Disengages

Clutch Engage and Disengage

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!

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

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

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.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...


Related questions

Q: Difficulty shifting into third gear

Hello. There could be a problem with the shifter cable or the shifter linkage from the transmission to the shifter. There also could be a problem with the slave cylinder, causing it to be hard to shift at times. A...

Q: Electronics don't work after jumpstart

Jumping a vehicle is a great way to receive instant power. On the other hand this can cause electrical issues if not done correctly. Multiple fuses can blow leaving you with a loss of power to many components in your...

Q: Rough shifting when I hit Third gear

A transmission does a lot of work propelling the car forward. Things that need to be checked are the fluid level and condition, which can be checked via the transmission dipstick. The fluid should be reddish color and read full...