If you have a bad clutch, it feels downright unsafe. If you have to press the clutch pedal all the way to the metal just to adjust the gear, you have a pressing problem. When you have a clutch that’s hindering your ability to shift gears, it’s time to bring it into the shop. Clutch problems can compound to create more problems down the line, especially if you have a clutch that’s grinding gears in your transmission —  so it’s best to bring your vehicle into a mechanic when you notice any warning signs. Here are some warning signs that you may have a bad clutch, as well as some advice on how to keep your clutch from wearing out prematurely.

Signs of a Bad Clutch

If your car is difficult to drive, your clutch may be to blame. When your clutch is out of whack, you car can encounter a litany of problems. Here are some of the signs that you may notice while you’re on the road:

Noises from the clutch pedal: Your clutch should go in and out without a squeak. However, clutch noises are common. If you notice squeaking, rattling, scraping, or clunking, then you likely have a problem with your clutch release. Just as any other component may do, this mechanism is bound to wear down at some point. When you have a clutch release that’s out of line, it can scrape into other parts of your car. Similarly, if you have a hydraulic release mechanism, it can lose its lubrication and squeal. Locating the source of your clutch problem is as easy as locating the source of the sound.

Transmission noises: If you have noise arising from your transmission, your clutch may be to blame. One of the most common problems is that the clutch shaft bearing can wear down. If this happens, you’ll likely hear a noise when your car is in neutral and the clutch isn’t pressed.

Squealing or growling from the engine: It’s unsettling to hear the engine squeal. If you notice squealing or growling when you let out the clutch, it may be an indication that you have a bad release bearing, or a bad crankshaft pilot bearing. We’ll check your pilot and release bearings to identify the source of the problem.

Grinding gears: Your transmission input shaft should stop spinning when you press the clutch pedal. If it remains loose, it’ll continue to spin, even as you try to engage a gear. That can cause gear grinding, and it can be especially bad for your engine if you’re switching your vehicle into reverse. When your gears are grinding, you may have an issue with your clutch linkage, or you may have a poor clutch plate.

Difficulty transitioning into reverse: If you can’t engage the reverse gear of your vehicle, then your clutch is to blame. Again, it’s likely that your clutch linkage or clutch plate are to blame. Bring your car into the shop to find out the source of the problem.

Difficulty getting into gear: Can’t put your vehicle into gear? Or simply having trouble shifting into higher gears? Once again, we’ll have to take a look at your clutch linkage and clutch plate to determine the source of the problem.

Racing engine: If your engine starts to race while your clutch is disengaged, then you may have a worn out disc. On top of that, you may have any of the following problems:

  • A damaged pressure plate.
  • A clutch linkage that needs adjusting.
  • A clutch linkage that’s binding or rusted.
  • A clutch linkage that’s damaged or misaligned.
  • A blocked master cylinder.
  • A broken motor mount.
  • A greasy clutch assembly (often caused by transmission and engine leaks).

Other clutch problems: If your clutch shutters, pulsates, or if it’s extremely loose or overly stiff, then you may have a problem. Clutch problems can arise from the disc, the release mechanism, the cable or linkage, the pressure plate, the flywheel, any of the bearings, or the clutch fork.

How to Keep Your Clutch From Wearing Out

Most clutches give out after 50,000 or 100,000 miles — although you can make the most out of your clutch with proper care. Take caution not to stomp on your clutch when you’re shifting between gears. Your clutch is a delicate instrument. As we’ve mentioned, your clutch is comprised of a disc, a release component, a cable and linkage, a pressure plate, a flywheel, multiple bearings, and a clutch fork. When you throw the clutch to the floor, you can wear out the system more quickly. Aim to make smooth shifts with every stroke of the pedal. You’ll keep your clutch in line, and you’ll keep your transmission running.

In addition, be sure to keep your clutch cool. Avoid riding the clutch — you’re riding the clutch if it partially engages the transmission. When the transmission is partially engaged, it creates friction which can transfer to your clutch. It’s a delicate balance, since you won’t want to drop the clutch suddenly either (that can damage both the clutch and engine). Just be sure that you don’t have the clutch partially open all the time. Shift gears smoothly, and leave your clutch completely disengaged or completely engaged when you can.

Finally, be sure that you bleed and replenish your clutch fluid regularly. This fluid is essential to keep the hydraulic component of your clutch operating as it should. You could keep your clutch running for thousands of extra miles with these simple precautions.

Count on Urban Autocare

When you have a clutch problem, we’re the crew to count on. Here at Urban Autocare, clutch repair, maintenance, and replacement are a few of our many specialties, and we work with most makes and models, including Subaru, Jeep, and Toyota vehicles. Count on our expert mechanics for all of our car repair and maintenance services. We’re proud to provide auto shop services for folks throughout Denver, including drivers in City Park, Park Hill, Washington Park, Downtown, and Uptown. Schedule service for your vehicle today!