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How to Test Your Clutch

picture of a clutch disc

While manual transmissions are no longer as popular with automotive manufacturers as they once were, there are still many vehicles on the road today that are equipped with manual transmissions, and thus have clutches.

An automotive clutch is a friction disc that is located inside the vehicle’s transmission. It is one of the most important components in a manual transmission vehicle’s driveline, as it is the component responsible for transferring the power from the engine through to to the transmission, so that it can be distributed to the wheels.

Clutches operate using friction lining, so over time they can wear out and begin to falter in performance. When a clutch wears out, it starts to display symptoms such as noise, vibration, and slippage. If left unchanged, the clutch will fail to transfer any of the engine power to the wheels and will need to be replaced eventually.

You can use a few simple tests to check whether the clutch is functioning properly or if it needs to be replaced.

Part 1 of 1: Test the clutch

person stepping on clutch pedal

Step 1: Check the clutch. Before checking to see if a clutch needs to be replaced, see if it is engaging and disengaging properly.

With the vehicle running, step on the clutch pedal and put the vehicle into gear. The transmission should shift into gear without any grinding or popping sounds.

If your vehicle’s clutch is hydraulically operated, make sure that the fluid level is topped off and ensure that there are no leaks or other problems with the system.

If your vehicle’s clutch is cable operated, examine the cable assembly and make sure that it is functioning correctly.

Pay attention to any signs that may indicate that the clutch is slipping. If the clutch is slipping, it may not engage properly and will cause the engine to shake, hesitate, or even rev to high rpms while driving.

Step 2: Drive and test the clutch operation. Put the vehicle into first gear and drive off from a stop, as usual. When releasing the clutch pedal to take off, pay extra attention to any abnormal behavior or cues that vehicle may exhibit, such as any grinding or squeaking noises, burning smells, or slippage, indicating that there may be a problem.

If you notice slippage, squeaking or grinding noises, or any sort of burning smells, the clutch may be excessively worn and may need to be replaced.

Step 3: Test the clutch by attempting to take off from third gear. Once the car has been road tested, take the car to an empty parking lot and take off from a stop with the car in third gear.

You will have to release the pedal very slowly and give the car some throttle to prevent it from stalling.

When releasing the pedal, the vehicle should eventually take off, albeit very slowly.

If when you try to take off the vehicle begins to display any signs of slippage, abnormal noises, or burning smells, then the clutch may need to be replaced due to excessive wear.

person replacing clutch disc

Step 4: Replace the clutch if necessary. If a problem is detected, you may need to replace the clutch with a suitable replacement.

You can easily test a clutch while driving and see whether it needs to be replaced. However, if you are not sure about the source of the problem, or if you feel that the clutch needs to be replaced, this is something that any professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, should be able to help you with.

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