Are you driving a manual and you recently noticed some weird symptoms? And you think that these are the symptoms of a slipping clutch? Well, if you are in this situation, we can tell you that you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we are going to learn everything you need to know about this problem.
- Manual Transmission?
- What Is A Clutch?
- Worn VS New Clutch
- Replacement Cost
Doing the proper research before you start jumping to conclusions about what could be the problem with your car is your top priority. Not that only you will have good input on what could be the case. But this knowledge will also save you hundreds of dollars because sometimes mechanics sometimes misdiagnose stuff.
Namely, clutch issues can be somewhat tricky to notice because as you probably know. The clutch is a component that is not visible to the naked eye. And a thorough investigation has to be done in order for this component to be diagnosed correctly. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to help you out when it comes to this problem.
First, we are going to learn what is a manual transmission and then we will learn what is a clutch. We will try to explain to you how essential this component really is in your vehicle. Then we will cover the differences between a worn clutch vs new clutch as well as the symptoms of a slipping clutch. After this, we will dive into diagnosing stuff and how you can test your car’s clutch as well as the replacement and the costs involved in this work. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Manual Transmission
Now before we dive into the symptoms of a slipping clutch, let’s cover some of the basics first and learn what is a manual transmission. There are a ton of people who are intrigued with the basics of the operation of this type of transmission since the vast number of transmissions used in the US are automatics. So, a good introduction will be quite useful.
This can be rather boring and repetitive. So, a ton of people are going for automatic transmission instead of manual transmission in the US. And I completely understand them. Driving a manual (and learning how to drive a manual car) can be a true struggle when you drive in a bumper to bumper traffic.
But we cannot bash the manuals since manuals are quite fun to drive. I have a manual and I think that it is really fun to change the gears by yourself and experience the true potential of your car’s engine.
Manual transmissions are perfect for this because they give you the ability to change the gear at any RPM range you desire. And this makes them still the way to go for many people that want to experience something fun and exciting.
These transmissions are really basic and they break very rarely in comparison to automatics. But still, there are some wear and tear components. Such as the clutch that can fail and cause symptoms of a slipping clutch. So, what are the symptoms? We will cover them in a bit after we learn the basics of the clutch.
What Is A Clutch
So, we covered the basics of manual transmissions and learned the basics. We learned that in this type of transmission, the driver goes through the gears manually and is able to select any gear at any given moment. But what about the component that makes this thing possible which is the clutch? Let’s learn more about it before we dive into the symptoms of a slipping clutch.
So, what is a clutch? Well, a clutch is simply a big disc with friction material on it. As you probably know, the transmission and the engine are not connected.
So, the clutch is basically what connects these two components in a manual transmission car (and you know how to drive a stick). Both the transmission and crankshaft of the engine are separate components.
And when the clutch grips onto the flywheel that is connected to the engine, it simply creates a strong bond thanks to the friction material that is on it. And this friction material makes gear shifting to be possible and you be able to go through each of the gears.
The operation of the clutch is purely mechanical. The clutch is located between the pressure plate and the flywheel. When you press on the clutch pedal, you basically move the fork and the throwout bearing inward.
So, by this action, the fork basically compresses the diaphragm of the pressure plate and disengages the clutch from the engine.
So, during this breakaway period when the clutch is disengaged, you can put the transmission in any gear you desire.
Once the process of shifting is done and you release the pedal, the clutch again returns to its normal position and grips the flywheel. But what about the symptoms of a slipping clutch? More on that in a moment.
Why The Clutch Is So Important
Before we dive into the symptoms of a slipping clutch, let’s focus a bit more on the importance of this component and learn why the clutch is an irreplaceable component when it comes to manual transmission vehicles. What makes the clutch so essential?
As you probably know, in every vehicle, no matter if it’s an automatic or a manual. There should be a conversion of energy.
The crankshaft is producing rotational energy and is spinning quite fast at 800 RPM at idle. So, transferring this energy directly to the wheels is not practical. Any driveshaft at these rotations will snap into pieces.
So, energy conversion has to be done. And here the transmission comes into play to convert the rotational energy of the crankshaft into torque. And then this torque to be delivered to the rear wheels.
The flywheel as you would imagine is spinning at 800 RPMs minimum. And in order for the transmission to create good contact with the flywheel, there should be strong friction.
Without the clutch in good condition. This conversion of energy will be impossible. So, if there is not enough gripping surface. The clutch will slip and the transmission will not want to engage the flywheel.
Or will engage and then disengage multiple times. A situation that is known as slipping. This is why having a healthy clutch is a really important thing to have. But what are the symptoms of a slipping clutch? More on that, we are going to elaborate in a bit.
Worn Clutch VS New Clutch
Now before we dive into the symptoms of a slipping clutch, let’s cover the differences between a worn clutch vs new clutch. We will start first with the differences that you will notice when you drive the vehicle and then we will cover the visual differences.
When it comes to the performance differences, we can say that a new clutch will grip immediately on the flywheel. There will be no delays and the power delivery will be just perfect. There will be no symptoms of a slipping clutch that we are going to cover in a moment. Overall, the performance of a good clutch and a bad clutch is very different.
The more life the clutch has, the better the performance will be and the stronger the car will pull from the get-go.
Also, if you place two clutches side by side. You will notice how on the worn-out clutch, there is simply no friction material left. There will also be damage to the friction material that is left on the plate itself.
While on a new clutch, the friction material will be quite thick. And when you do a side-by-side comparison, even a person that does not have any knowledge of cars will tell you which is which. So, what are the symptoms of a slipping clutch then? More on the symptoms we are going to cover in the following chapters where we are going to elaborate on everything in detail.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch
So, we learned all about manual transmissions and how the clutch works. And now it is time to dive into the problem and learn more about the symptoms of a slipping clutch.
As you probably know, every component when it fails starts to develop different symptoms. And so is the case with the slipping clutch. Whenever there is a slipping clutch in a car there are notable symptoms that are a possibility to occur. This is why we are going to cover all about them in the following chapters and elaborate on them thoroughly. So, buckle up because it will be a fun ride.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch #1: Vehicle Hesitation Before Accelerating
Now let’s dive into the symptoms of a slipping clutch. And the first symptom in our list of symptoms is when your car hesitates under acceleration.
So, what is vehicle hesitation? Well, this is one of the most common symptoms of a worn-out clutch. It happens because the vehicle clutch slips.
You put the car into gear and it doesn’t grip immediately. It first slips a couple of times and then it grips.
Doing this a number of times in a row will cause the clutch to overheat and fail completely. This is one of the early symptoms that happen before the clutch fails. So, if you notice some hesitation after you put the car into gear and release the clutch, then you know that the clutch is slipping and basically nothing happens, and then it catches up. Now let’s move on to the next symptom.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch #2: High Engine RPM But No Speed
The next in our list of symptoms of a slipping clutch is the high engine RPM and no speed. This is also connected with the previous symptom.
You will notice how you increase the throttle and there is no feedback from the car. The engine works fine and seems fine. The RPM rise but there is no speed.
In this situation, the clutch is not working well. It is constantly slipping and losing grip. And probably overheats in this case.
So, when you have high engine RPM and no speed, then you definitely know that the clutch is pretty much destroyed and needs to be replaced. Later on, in the article, we are going to explain how this procedure is conducted. Both for diagnosing the problem. As well as when it comes to sorting out the problem and doing the clutch job.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch #3: Quick Disengagement Of The Clutch
Now let’s continue with the next symptom in our list of symptoms of a slipping clutch. And this symptom is also quite common.
This is the situation when the clutch disengages once you apply the clutch pedal. Usually, when you have a good healthy clutch, the clutch disengages somewhere in the middle of the travel from the top to bottom. At one or two inches of travel on average is the gripping position.
You basically feel it with the foot the position where the clutch grips the flywheel. And when the clutch is slipping like in this situation, this gripping point will be immediately after you press the pedal.
And this is not good, when this situation occurs, you know that there is no life left in this clutch and this clutch has to go and be replaced. But more on how this problem is diagnosed, we are going to elaborate later on in the article. Right after we finish with the symptoms of a slipping clutch.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch #4: Clutch Pedal Is Too High Or Too Low
When it comes to the symptoms of a slipping clutch, it is worth mentioning the clutch pedal position.
The clutch pedal can sink a bit or become too stiff when the clutch is worn out. Sometimes the throwout bearing that usually wears out can create problems like these and produce noises when you press on the clutch.
In these situations when you have a problem with the clutch pedal, you should not directly connect them with the clutch. But more with the clutch master cylinder, throwout bearing, and other components in the clutch assembly.
Either way, when you replace a throwout bearing, you replace the clutch plate as well. At least, it is recommended to do so if the clutch has less than 50% life in it. Now let’s continue with the symptoms of a slipping clutch.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch #5: Smell Of Something Burning
Now let’s continue with the symptoms of a slipping clutch. And to a lot of people who drive a manual, this is a really well-known smell. Mainly because every new driver smokes the clutch at least once.
And this is definitely something that you don’t want to do. Mainly because when you smoke the clutch, you slip the clutch so much that it basically wears out to a rapid extent.
You can take out 10% or 15% of the life of the clutch in one go. And usually when the clutch reaches the end of its lifespan will start to slip more and more often.
So, the smell of something burning coming from the center console will be more and more pronounced. And if you notice something burning as well as these other symptoms that we mentioned. Then you definitely have a worn-out clutch and this is one of the symptoms of a slipping clutch. Now let’s move on to the last symptom of a slipping clutch.
Symptoms Of A Slipping Clutch #6: Car Doesn’t Want To Pull Uphill
And the last symptom in our list of symptoms of a slipping clutch is the situation when the car does not want to pull.
So, you are driving on the road and suddenly there is a steep hill. You press on the gas pedal and the car won’t budge. It just doesn’t like to move forward. Why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because when it comes to uphill driving or driving under heavy loads, the clutch is the first component that tells you that you have a problem.
So, if there is no friction material left on the clutch. The component will be very prone to slipping and causing problems. So, if you notice something like this, then you definitely need a new clutch for your car. But how you can diagnose a bad clutch? Let’s find out more about this in the following chapter in-depth.
How To Diagnose Clutch Slipping
So, we covered the symptoms of a slipping clutch. Now let’s take a look at how you can diagnose a slipping clutch. There are a few methods that you can do in order to test the clutch.
The first method when it comes to testing the clutch is to see if the clutch produces any noises when you press the clutch pedal. Usually, when you press the clutch pedal, the throwout bearing will produce noises.
The second thing you would want to notice is to see the gripping point of the clutch. If the gripping point is right at the top when you release the clutch, then you know that the clutch is worn out.
In addition to this, you can also do a test on an inclined road. Just put the car into gear, put the handbrake down and try to accelerate. The car in this case will not be happy at all and you will struggle to get grip from the tires.
This is a clear indication of a worn-out clutch. Also, the other symptoms like the car revving high and no response will be present as well. So, how much does it cost to do a clutch job? Let’s elaborate more on this next.
Clutch Replacement Cost
Now as we covered the symptoms of a slipping clutch and learned how to diagnose a worn-out clutch. Now let’s see how much the clutch replacement cost is. How much money can you expect to pay for this work?
The cost for this clutch job varies a lot. The parts alone will cost you anywhere between $250 and $600. The clutch replacement labor cost is also the thing that is expensive.
In fact, labor is more expensive than the actual price for the parts in some cases. Why is this the case? Well, the whole transmission has to come off for this job. And this is a lot of labor. So, the cost of labor will be above $600 in most cases.
On average for the whole job, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $1,200 to $1,600 for the whole job with parts and labor.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to bad clutch on a manual car. First, we learned what is a clutch and what it does. Then we moved on to discussing the differences between a good clutch and a bad clutch.
After that, we covered the symptoms of a slipping clutch and learned how they are represented and also how to test a clutch. Lastly, we covered the costs involved in replacing this clutch.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is A Clutch
A clutch is a friction plate that is installed in a manual transmission car. This plate serves the purpose to connect the transmission with the engine when you engage a gear.
What Does A Clutch Do
The clutch is a plate with friction material on it. This plate serves the purpose to connect the transmission with the engine whenever you put the car into gear.
How Long Does A Clutch Last
The clutch life really depends on the style of driving that you have. If you drive normally and know how to change gears, this component should last about 60,000 miles. Even more, if you are really careful and do not let it slip.
What Is Clutch Slipping
Clutch slipping is the situation when the clutch is slipping on the flywheel. This is often done by not releasing the clutch on time. Timing is everything when it comes to manual transmissions. Also, a worn-out clutch can slip as well.
How To Tell If A Clutch Is Bad
If the clutch is slipping very often, we can say that the clutch is worn out. The car’s RPM will be high but the car will not like to move. Also, on uphill roads, the car will not like to move as well.
How To Tell If Clutch Is Slipping
The inability of the car to move forward. Or hesitation when moving forward, high RPM and slow response, and burning smell. All these symptoms are symptoms of a slipping clutch.