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Have you ever wondered exactly what happens when you push down the clutch pedal? Without the clutch you would not be able to disengage the power of the engine or change gears! So how does it all work? A clutch is used to connect two moving shafts that are moving at different speeds. This allows us to disengage engine power without stalling the car or to be able to drive off smoothly allowing the engine’s power to transmit to the road gradually.
What is the clutch made up of? There are several major components starting with the flywheel which is connected to the engine, followed by the clutch plate which is connected to the transmission. Next is the pressure plate which holds the friction between the clutch plate and the flywheel. This part of the clutch takes an incredible amount of force & pressure. Next are the studs & the diaphragm spring. As the middle of the diaphragm spring is pushed in, a series of pins near the outside of the spring causes it to pull the pressure plate away from the clutch disc. This releases the clutch from the spinning engine. The next component is the throw-out bearing which is also known as a ‘clutch bearing’. It aids the smoothness of the transition and noise reduction. Next you have the clutch housing and release fork. The release fork’s job is to put force onto the pressure plate causing the pressure plate fingers to release. The bell housing contains all of the clutch components. The final part of the jigsaw puzzle is the gear box.
How can you look after your clutch? Don’t ride your clutch. We are all guilty of sitting in traffic jams or waiting for the lights to change, by holding the car steady on the clutch rather than the brakes. This can take years of life from the clutch! Intense heat builds of within the clutch and this can lead to the clutch burning out. Simply by holding the car on the foot brake or handbrake will dramatically reduce clutch wear. When you have fully released the clutch move your foot off the pedal as having the clutch slightly depressed will also increase wear to the clutch.
What are the signs of clutch wear? A slipping clutch can mean a new clutch is required. A simple way to see if your clutch is slipping is to find a reasonable hill or incline. Get your vehicle to a reasonable speed around 30-45 should be fine then select a high gear 4th or 5th and push the accelerator to the floor (if it is safe and legal to do so). If the vehicle’s rev counter suddenly raises with no equal sign of acceleration this can be a sign of clutch wear. Some vehicles do have the facility to adjust the clutch cable which can extend the life of the clutch.
Another sign of clutch wear is clutch judder. You would feel this feedback through the clutch pedal. If …
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