How to Adjust a Clutch

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The clutch is a critical component in the operation of manual transmission vehicles. The clutch allows the transmission to disengage from the engine, allowing the operator to change gears.

To work correctly, the clutch needs the right amount of freeplay in the linkage between the foot pedal and the clutch operating lever. If the amount of freeplay or clearance is low, it results in a slipping clutch. If there is too much freeplay, the clutch may be dragging.

Over time the clutch wears down and requires adjustments. The clutch freeplay must checked and adjusted at every 6,000 miles or as specified in the maker's service schedule.

Newer vehicles use a hydraulic clutch and slave cylinder that are self adjusting and do not require adjustments. Older vehicles use a clutch cable and clutch lever that require adjustments at regular service intervals to keep the clutch wearing evenly and in good working condition.

  • Warning: Improper clutch adjustment can cause the clutch to slip or uneven wearing of the clutch. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer's specifications while adjusting the clutch and refer to the owner’s manual of your vehicle for the right process.

Part 1 of 3: Measure Clutch Pedal Freeplay

The first step in adjusting a clutch is to check the clutch pedal freeplay. This measurement will give you a baseline to go back to and you can then adjust the clutch pedal free play to fall in the manufacturer's specification range for your vehicle.

Materials Needed

block of wood showing markings

Step 1: Measure the clutch position. Set a block of wood down next to the clutch pedal. Mark the height of the clutch pedal without depressing it at all.

Step 2: Press the clutch and measure its position. Press the clutch pedal several times. Mark the height of the clutch pedal at the location where you feel the clutch engage.

  • Note: You will need another person to depress the clutch pedal for you so that you can get an accurate measurement.

block of wood with the difference between the markings

Step 3: Determine clutch pedal freeplay. Now that you have a measurement of the clutch pedal height when it is disengaged and engaged, you can use the measurements to determine the freeplay.

Calculate the freeplay by determining the difference between the two numbers obtained earlier. Once you know the freeplay, compare the number to the vehicles freeplay specifications given by the manufacturer.

Part 2 of 3: Adjust the Clutch Cable

Step 1: Locate the clutch lever and the adjustment locations on the clutch cable. Depending on the vehicle, you may need to remove parts such as the battery and airbox to gain access to the clutch cable.

clutch cable and clutch lever shown

Most vehicles will have a locknut and an adjuster nut. The first step is to loosen the locknut and adjuster nut slightly.

someone pulling upwards on the clutch cable to adjust the location

Next pull up on the clutch cable and make sure the locknut and adjuster can be turned by hand.

Step 2: Adjust the clutch lever. Now that the adjustment nut and locknut are loose, pull up on the clutch cable again.

You will feel a point where the clutch lever engages. This is where the clutch cable should be adjusted too.

While keeping constant pressure on the clutch cable, place the locknut and adjuster so the clutch lever engages fully and smoothly without have any overtravel. This may take a few attempts to get the adjustment just right.

Tighten the clutch cable locknut and adjuster in place once you are happy with the placement.

Part 3 of 3: Check clutch pedal freeplay

Step 1: Check the freeplay after adjustment. After the clutch cable has been adjusted, get back into the car to check the clutch feel and free play measurement again.

Depress the clutch several times and check the feel of the pedal. The clutch should engage smoothly. This will also seat the clutch cable fully after a few depressions.

Now measure the clutch pedal freeplay as outlined in part one. The free play should be within manufacturer’s range specifications now. If it is not within specifications, you will need to adjust the cable again.

Step 2: Reinstall any parts removed. Put back any parts that were removed to gain access to the clutch cable.

Take the vehicle on a test drive once repairs are completed, to check for proper operation of the vehicle. Now that you have adjusted your clutch pedal, you can enjoy the smooth clutch while driving.

If you are uncomfortable performing the clutch adjustment process on your own, contact a YourMechanic professional for assistance with the clutch adjustment.


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Recent Clutch is not working Inspection reviews

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YourMechanic Clutch is not working Inspection Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

43

Rating Summary
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William

19 years of experience
129 reviews
William
19 years of experience
Nissan 300ZX - Clutch is not working - Lehigh Acres, Florida
William carefully listened to my description of the issue, asked detailed questions, tested the operation of the clutch and determined the problem to be a worn clutch, not the slave cylinder as I suspected. He impressed me with his detailed description of the worn part involved, how it caused my car's symptoms, and why replacing the slave cylinder would not correct them.
Kia Rio - Clutch is not working - Naples, Florida
Very good service

Steffon

10 years of experience
28 reviews
Steffon
10 years of experience
Chevrolet HHR - Clutch is not working - Baltimore, Maryland
Very pleasant and nice young man ,although the problem was not resolved ,he still came on time and tried to figure out the problem.

Berchel

17 years of experience
101 reviews
Berchel
17 years of experience
Chevrolet Cavalier - Clutch is not working - Baltimore, Maryland
100% Satisfied. I booked an inspection to have my brother's Chevy Cavalier checked out. His clutch system failed, rendering his car stranded in the parking lot of his apartment complex, in Baltimore City. My brother is a disabled vet, who lives independently, yet relies heavily upon family to help him. We live in Frederick, MD. For a month, we racked our brains, trying to figure out how to get his car from Baltimoret to our local garage without spending a fortune. Low and behold, I found Your Mechanic and Berchel came to our rescue! Berchel had a prior cancellation and contacted me 3 hours ahead of our scheduled appointment to inquire if we could meet sooner. When told, my brother's were still in Frederick and had to drive to Baltimore to meet him, he agreed to stay in the area and patiently wait for their arrival. In the interim, he had gone to the address where the car was located. My brother's were impressed by Berchel's friendly personality, excellent customer services skills, automotive knowledge, mechanical skills and ability to quickly diagnose the clutch malfunction and problem solve to make it temporarily drivable. Berchel explained everything he was doing, why he was doing it as, he checked the car. He was thorough, knowledgeable, honest and upfront. With his expertise, Berchel managed to get the clutch to function, so my brother COULD drive his Chevy Cavalier, from Baltimore to Frederick, for repair at our local garage. We are so grateful and appreciative. He is a top notch mechanic and wonderful human being!! Thank you, Berchel. 

Edmar

21 years of experience
174 reviews
Edmar
21 years of experience
Mazda 6 - Clutch is not working Inspection - Frisco, Texas
He is efficient, knowledgeable, kind and great at what he does. I am so impressed and pleased with my services. Thank you so much!

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