The clutch is the mechanical device that engages and disengages power transmission, from the engine to the wheels in any manual vehicle
The clutch is the part of the car which connects the rotating shafts. In a manual vehicle, the clutch controls the connection between the shaft coming from the engine and the shafts which turn the wheels. The clutch is an important part of the vehicles working machinery as the engine is generating power all of the time, and has parts always rotating, but they are not always spinning.
In order for the vehicle to change speed and to stop without turning the engine off, the connection between the wheels and the engine needs to be temporarily broken. There are two main parts to the clutch and that is the clutch plate and the flywheel. If you press your foot down on the clutch pedal, there are a set of springs that keep a pressure plate up against the clutch plate.
Pressure from the springs actually pushes the clutch plate against the flywheel. This connects the engine to the shaft which then transfers motion to the wheels, and will make both turn at the same time. When you press your foot down on the clutch pedal, you press down on a release fork, through a series of springs and pins it will pull the pressure plate away from the clutch plate. This will break the connection between the engine and the wheels, meaning the wheels will continue spinning but under their own momentum not from the power of the engine.
This design allows you to disengage the wheels from the engine, so you can change gear allowing you to have a great deal of control over the speed of the vehicle.
Main Parts of a Clutch
The main parts of a clutch are in three groups
- Driving members
- Driven members
- Operating members.
The driving member has a flywheel mounted on the crankshaft of the engine. The flywheel is fixed to a cover that supports a pressure plate or driving disc, pressure springs and releasing levers.
The whole assembly of the flywheel and the cover rotate all the time. The clutch housing and the cover are provided with an opening. From this opening, the heat is evaporated and generated by friction during the clutch operation.
The driven member has a disc or plate, called the clutch plate. It is free to slide alongside the splines of the clutch shaft. The driven member carries friction materials on both of its surfaces. When a driven member is held between the flywheel and the pressure plate, it helps to rotate the clutch shaft through the splines.
The operating members have a foot pedal, linkage, release or throw-out bearing, release leavers and the springs essential to ensure the proper operation of the clutch.
What is a clutch plate?
The clutch plate is in between the flywheel and the pressure plate. It is mounted on the clutch shaft through the splines. When it is gripped, it rotates the clutch shaft and the power is transmitted from the engine to the transmission through the clutch.
What is a flywheel?
The flywheel is an integral part of a vehicle, and it looks like a large, heavy round disc. It connects the crankshaft and moves with the clutch disc to push momentum to the vehicle's wheels.
Flywheels can only be found in manual transmission vehicles and not automatic vehicles.
Types of flywheels although there are different sizes and makes of flywheels there are two types the lightened flywheel and the dual mass flywheel.
1. LIGHTENED FLYWHEELS
These are usually in race and performance vehicles like the name, they have a significantly reduced weight and are very light. Reducing the excess material from a flywheel to fit a specific one gives the flywheel more rotation speed under the engine’s power. It makes it more accessible to change gears to suit the rate necessary. This speed makes the lightened flywheels ideal for race and performance vehicles.
2. DUAL MASS FLYWHEELS
This type, unlike the lightened one, has a weighty mass, hence the double in its name. For heavy-duty vehicles, the weight of the flywheel is to balance off the engine’s load and help keep balance. These flywheels do not have much speed in rotation, and swift gear changes are not entirely possible.
Faults in a flywheel can result in the smooth running of your vehicle. To determine if your vehicle has a bad flywheel, look out for some of the following symptoms:
- Gear Slip: Gear slipping occurs when there is no power being transferred to the wheels and is always a result of the worn-out clutch. Wearing out the clutch will affect the flywheel to wear out too, and eventually, the flywheel will crack, making gear change impossible. When you start experiencing gear slipping, check out your flywheel and fix the clutch to avoid more damage.
- Acrid Burning Smell: You may perceive an acrid burning smell inside the vehicle; that is a sign that your flywheel is terrible. The odour comes from improper clutch handling, wearing out the flywheel. Clutches have facings to reduce noise; they can also overheat due to friction when misused and produces a burning odour.
- Clattering of the clutch: When the clutch skips on the flywheel and gives a vibration feel when you release, that’s a sign the flywheel is bad.
- Vibrating Clutch Pedal: Vibrations from the clutch pedal can also mean that the spring mounts on the flywheel are bad.
- Dragging of Clutch: When you experience the clutch not engaging, or a complete failure to put the vehicle in first gear, you might be having a clutch drag due to failure of the flywheel.
- Car Not Starting: Though a car not starting can be due to several other reasons, it can also be because of a faulty flywheel. If the clutch and the flywheel don’t engage properly, the car might not start.
Though most of these symptoms might be because of other reasons, they can also indicate a faulty flywheel.