How long does a clutch last?
A manual transmission uses a clutch to connect the engine and transmission together each time you let out on the clutch to take off from a stop or change gears on your transmission. Each time you change gears and let out on the clutch pedal, your clutch disc, pressure plate, flywheel and release bearing get a little bit of wear. Your clutch and its companion components are designed to last above 60,000 miles of normal driving and clutch use.
The clutch may last a lot longer or a lot less than 60,000 miles. It depends on a lot of different conditions like whether the vehicle is used as a tow vehicle all the time or if the transmission is used to downshift a lot to slow down. If the vehicle is used to tow a lot of weight, like a service truck pulling a trailer all the time, you may have to replace the transmission clutch 20,000 to 30,000 miles. This would be considered normal wear and tear on the clutch and would not be covered under warranty. If you have a small, light car and do a lot of highway driving that would cause you to not have many gear changes, your clutch may last you more than the 60,000 miles. I have seen vehicles go more than twice that amount and only have to replace the clutch because of a worn out release bearing and not from the clutch itself being worn out yet.
When it comes down to a clutch wearing out too quickly, it will likely be due to a failed component of the clutch assembly like a bad pilot bearing, pressure plate, or release bearing going bad. The clutch disc should outlast most other clutch components unless it is abused. A clutch can be abused by over-revving the engine and engaging the clutch, allowing the clutch to slip too much before full engagement of the clutch, or downshifting too much. All of this will put excessive wear on the clutch disc and pressure plate, causing it to fail quicker than it should.
Different clutches can range from normal duty to extra duty; a heavy truck that is expected to carry heavy loads may be equipped with an extra duty clutch so it will last longer between changes under normal operation. A subcompact car has a light duty clutch since it is not expected to carry or tow heavy weights; this clutch will last at least 60,000 miles or more. Some vehicles that are considered power sports cars may have a heavier duty clutch in some of its higher powered models with bigger, more powerful performance motors and a lighter duty clutch in a lower powered model with smaller, more fuel efficient motors .
If a vehicle that has a clutch for a manual transmission has a clutch that has failed or slipping in less than about 10,000 miles, then it may be defective, as long as it was not abused. A trained mechanic can see the cause of a clutch failure when the clutch is removed, and if it is identified as abused then it would not be covered under warranty for you. Most defective clutches will tend to fail within the first 2,000 miles of normal use if it is going to fail. I have seen clutches come apart in less than 500 miles and have seen clutches last over 200,000 miles. If you take it easy on the clutch, it may last you the life of the vehicle.
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