A clutch cable is the steel braided cable found on manual transmission vehicles that connects the transmission clutch linkage to the clutch pedal mechanism. When the pedal is depressed, the clutch cable pulls on the clutch linkage to disengage the clutch so that the transmission can be safely shifted. When the clutch cable begins to have problems, it can cause issues with shifting the vehicle, which will take away from its overall drivability. Usually a problematic clutch cable will display a few symptoms that can alert the driver that a problem has occurred and needs to be serviced.
1. Transmission slips out of gear
A bad clutch cable can sometimes cause a transmission to slip and pop out of gear. This will usually occur when it is accelerating and is under heavy load. This will obviously take away from the drivability of the vehicle, as it will have to be constantly put back into gear each time it pops out.
2. Hard clutch pedal
Another symptom of a problem with the clutch cable is a hard clutch pedal. A jammed or stuck cable will not be able to move when the pedal is depressed and will result in a pedal that resists depression when stepped on. Continuing to try and step on a pedal that has resistance may cause the cable to break, which will result in an inoperable clutch pedal.
3. Clutch pedal sinks to the floor
Another symptom, and a more serious issue, is a clutch pedal that sinks to the floor. If for any reason the clutch cable snaps or breaks, the clutch pedal will become disconnected from the clutch linkage, and as a result will have little to no resistance when the pedal is depressed. This will obviously result in a vehicle that cannot shift into gear and will be undrivable.
The clutch cable is a simple component in operation and design, however, when it fails it can cause problems that may render the vehicle undrivable. For this reason, if you suspect that your clutch cable may be having an issue, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic to determine if your vehicle needs a clutch cable replacement.