Clutch Problems? Four Signs You Need to Take Action

Posted on: 30 June 2018


While many people opt for the luxury of an automatic gearbox, others prefer to be a little more involved when they're driving. In fact, they may enjoy their time behind the wheel as they change gear manually along their daily commute. Yet, whenever human action is necessary to engage a mechanical component, there's a lot of margin for error. Some of the parts on the vehicle may wear out more quickly and this is especially true of the clutch. If you suspect that something is wrong, what does this particular component do and what action should you take?

How the Clutch Works

The beauty of an automatic gearbox is that it can sense the road condition and work together with the engine to provide the right amount of traction. It will automatically change to the correct gear, due to a very complicated and well-engineered mechanism.

In a manually-operated car, the driver must make these decisions. He or she has to disconnect the power generated by the engine so that they can selectively connect the right type of gear for the road condition. They then need to reconnect the power so it can be transferred to the wheels. The crucial component here is the clutch mechanism that disengages and then re-engages the engine.

What Can Go Wrong

Few people can claim to be perfect drivers, and when they are not, it can put a lot of strain on the clutch itself. There is a component inside that is made from a friction material that's designed to deal with constant engagement and this will certainly break down with time.


The car may suddenly jump out of gear for no apparent reason. If this happens, the clutch plate could be due for a replacement, or there may be a leak from the back of the engine onto the clutch surface.


Alternatively, you may find it difficult to push the clutch pedal down, because the internal components are sticking in place. This is an indication that the hydraulic linkage has failed, causing a loss of pressure. It's possible that there's not enough fluid in the system and you should check the clutch fluid reservoir underneath the bonnet. If it is very low, there may be a leak.


Do you have a habit of resting your foot on the clutch pedal when you're driving in slow traffic? Some people do this in anticipation of their next move, but it will overheat the clutch when partially engaged at all times. You may notice a burning smell and some difficulty in moving forward when this is apparent.


Finally, you may notice that the engine is working harder than the road speed would suggest and this means that the clutch is slipping. It's not doing its job properly due to excess wear and tear and the plate will need to be replaced to rectify matters.

What to Do Next

Unless you are an exceptional weekend mechanic, you will need to take your vehicle in for auto servicing.