How Can I Tell If My Clutch Is Slipping?

For some drivers, shifting a manual transmission is second nature. Others prefer to rely on automatic transmissions. Drivers of automatic vehicles don’t have to worry about developing bad shifting habits that can cause a slipping clutch, or other clutch problems. However, a bad clutch can be the result of poor habits in hilly or heavily congested areas. So if you think your clutch is slipping, how can you be sure? Watch for the following:

  • Car hesitates before accelerating: This means that the clutch is likely not delivering enough of a boost to the drive wheels via the transmission. You might also find that if you’re pulling a load, you don’t have quite the power that you need. This hesitation can be a sign of a slipping clutch.

  • Burning smell: If you think you smell something burning under the hood, it could be leaking oil, or damaged wiring. Or, it could mean you have a bad clutch.

  • Clutch disengages too quickly: If you push down on the clutch pedal, and it doesn’t take much to disengage it, then it’s probably slipping.

  • RPMs are too high: Often, you can diagnose clutch problems in a manual transmission by hitting the road. See if your engine needs more RPMs than usual to reach a certain speed. This is another indication that your clutch needs to be replaced. You can also check it out in a parking lot. Stop the vehicle but leave the engine running, and then put the car in second or third gear. Let the clutch out. If the car doesn’t stall, the RPMs go up, and the vehicle remains in place, you have a slipping clutch.

These are four of the most common signs of a slipping clutch. A qualified mechanic can confirm if this is the problem and then take steps to correct it.


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Scott

34 years of experience
546 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!

Travis

13 years of experience
579 reviews
Travis
13 years of experience
Mazda Miata L4-1.8L - Clutch is not working - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Travis showed up on time. He was professional and very nice. He checked the car out, did what was necessary and finished the job. I would definitely have him fix any auto problems I have.

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
301 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.

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Clutch cables can wear out from age and clutch overuse. The location and build of your clutch cable will depend on the make and model of the car.
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The clutch cable adjuster wears out as the clutch cable does. A common sign of a damaged cable adjuster is a grinding sound when moving the shifter.
How to Troubleshoot a Clutch That Won't Fully Disengage
A slipping clutch is a clutch that's not fully disengaging, which could be caused by a broken clutch cable, a hydraulic leak, or incompatible parts.

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