Your car’s clutch is likely to be a component that needs a lot of TLC! Ask any driver, and they will likely tell you that clutch problems are some of their least favourite. That’s often because clutches are not only very complex in their design and operation, but also because they can be expensive to fix. While you can often fix clutches and their problems yourself, this is never recommended!
What the Clutch Does
When you first learn to drive, the clutch is likely to be one of the first features you’ll come across in your car. It is a crucial engine part in all cars which run on manual transmission. This is because you will need to engage the clutch to change gears. Gears, of course, will allow you to change the way the car moves, and the clutch does this by regulating the way that engine power communicates with the drive shaft.
The clutch effectively adjusts friction between the engine and the wheels, which in turn will allow you to change gear and run your car without the need for unnecessary jerking and jolting. It also means that you will be able to stop and start your car easily without any sudden movements.
How the Clutch Works
The inner workings of your clutch can get quite complicated! However, you will find it midway between the gearbox and the engine of your car, mounted between the transmission and the flywheel. There are four parts to a clutch, which include the pressure plate, the clutch plate (which attaches to both the pressure plate and the flywheel), the throw-out bearing and the diaphragm spring, which work together to exert pressure on the pressure plate and clutch disc.
When you activate the clutch pedal with your foot, it is communicating via cable or hydraulic piston. When you engage the clutch, you are effectively removing the connection between the engine and the wheels. This means that you can safely shift gear without feeling any ill effects!
The clutch, ultimately, helps you to control and manage the speed and stability of your car, which you will do by changing gears. Automatic cars, as their name suggests, will have automatic clutch systems in place, meaning there is no need for you to physically engage it.
As mentioned, there are many problems which can go wrong with your clutch! A worn clutch is disastrous for the performance and safety of your car. This is normally easy to spot through a foul smell, for example, and you may find that your gears slip during changes. Unfortunately, continued use can lead to wear and tear, which means you should make sure to check your clutch and its components carefully with a repair shop or centre.
It can take time to perfect efficient use of the clutch. As you continue driving a specific car, you will find that it becomes easy to tell when a clutch doesn’t feel right! Whether in gear changes or in general transmission, you should report any problems immediately to a mechanic.