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

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
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...

Related questions

Q: clutch or gearbox ?????

Without more information, such as the symptoms you experienced, it is nearly impossible to determine the cause of your concern. Usually a clutch will wear out before the gearbox.

Q: Q: My car won't shift out of first gear at all.

Thanks for writing in about the transmission problem with your 1999 Mercedes-Benz S320. Typically the issue you're speaking about is a result of overheating inside of the automatic transmission. The overheating can be caused by dirty transmission fluid, or low...

Q: Shifter won't shift gears

Greetings! What you have described is a common issue that many Dodge Charger owners may face. The problem is likely a worn parking gear shift lock bracket. It is made of plastic, and over time, the plastic will stretch and...