How a Hydraulic Clutch System Works

If your car transmission has a hydraulic clutch, chances are you’re wondering exactly how it works within your shifting system. Most clutches, especially on older vehicles, work by means of a cog system that changes the gears as you shift. With an automatic transmission, you don’t actually shift at all – the car does it for you.

The basics

Essentially, a clutch works by means of the gear shift lever or stick. You press the clutch down with your foot, and that causes the flywheel to move. This works with the pressure plate, disengaging the clutch disc and stopping the driveshaft from turning. The plate then releases, and re-engages in the gear you’ve selected.

Hydraulics

A hydraulic clutch works on the same basic principle, but it differs from its mechanical counterpart in that it has fewer components. This type of clutch has a reservoir containing hydraulic fluid, and when you push down on the clutch pedal, the fluid becomes pressurized. It works along with the clutch plate to disengage the gear you’re in, and engage the new gear.

Maintenance

It’s important to be sure your fluid is always adequate. In most vehicles, this isn’t a problem. It’s a closed system, so usually your fluid should last the life of the vehicle and never need to be changed. The exception to this, of course, is if you’re in the habit of driving a very old vehicle. Then, wear and tear can cause leaking, and you’ll need to top up the fluid. You don’t have to worry about buying anything fancy – simple brake fluid will do.

Problems

Your shifting system is, obviously, vital to the operation of your car. The hydraulic clutch is what delivers the gear changes, and if it’s not working you’re going to find yourself driving in one gear – not for long, though. You’ll have to get it checked out by a mechanic. To keep the hydraulic clutch problem-free, the best thing to do is avoid the practice known as “riding the clutch.” This means simply that you’ve developed the habit of constantly having your foot on the clutch pedal, raising it and lowering it as a means of regulating your speed. This is what your brakes are for! Properly cared for, your hydraulic clutch will last a long time.


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Scott

34 years of experience
539 reviews
Scott
34 years of experience
GMC K1500 V8-5.0L - Clutch is not working - Broomfield, Colorado
I ask for Scott because of his knowledge. He doesn't just plug a car into a computer and say "I'm not sure." He can actually look at what has been known to happen from past experiences. I will always ask for his assistance.
Subaru Outback - Clutch is not working - Denver, Colorado
Scott was very thorough with his work on my Subaru, communicated effectively to coordinate my appointment, and provided excellent recommendations for further services to resolve my problem (which ended up being more of a problem than initially anticipated). Very helpful and friendly, and I would highly recommend!

Augustine

12 years of experience
129 reviews
Augustine
12 years of experience
Mazda B2200 L4-2.2L - Clutch is not working - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Augustine was on time, friendly, and was mindful of COVID safe practices. He was very knowledgeable about my old truck and was able to fix it right away. Thanks so much Augustine!!!

Juan

9 years of experience
278 reviews
Juan
9 years of experience
Mazda MX-5 Miata L4-2.0L - Clutch is not working - Orlando, Florida
Juan was professional, nice, and good at explaining what he was doing and why. He helped me understand the issues with my car and my obtions to resolve them.

Michael

6 years of experience
126 reviews
Michael
6 years of experience
Ford Escape L4-2.3L - Clutch is not working Inspection - Lakewood, Washington
Extremely polite and professional. He explained things to me in a way I could understand (as best he could to a senior woman) lol. He even moved my car off the street due to neighbor complaints.

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