Clutch repair and replacement

Cars fall into two distinct categories; manual and automatic gearboxes. While there might be some blurring in the middle with steptronic gearboxes and switchable automatics, those are the two real alternatives. And the difference between them? A manual clutch requires the driver to operate it whereas an automatic one changes gears as required in response to engine’s speed.

Your cars’ clutch resides between the engine and the gearbox and ensures a smooth transfer of power between the two, and that starts to breakdown when your clutch wears out.

When clutches start to fail, it is usually accompanied by a noticeable slipping and a failure to correctly engage or disengage. This might appears as a rise in engine revs when you, or your car, change gear. There might be a slight burning smell under the bonnet, and you may experience the clutch ‘slipping’ and not applying power correctly. If you suspect that any of these things are happening, you need to have the clutch investigated and if needed – replaced.

In majority of cases not fixable, clutches usually need replacing by a specialist who has all the tools available to carry out this fairly tricky job.

Changing a clutch will generally mean splitting the gearbox away from the engine and that is usually best done from underneath, so it’s likely that the vehicle will need to be lifted on a hydraulic ramp. The clutch is usually accessed by removing a series of bolts that undo to separate the gearbox from the engine, and the actual clutch plate can be found in the space between them. Replacing the clutch plate is usually quite straightforward but may require special tools to align the new clutch plate with a splined shaft – used to drive it – on the gearbox. Once the new clutch plate has been fitted, the gearbox can be reattached to the engine and the bolts tightened to the correct torque setting. Once fitted, the clutch should be tested by starting the engine while in neutral or ‘park’ and listening for any unusual sounds. If there is nothing, a gear can be selected and the car carefully driven off.

Changing a clutch is a fairly straightforward job, but one that is usually best left to professionals.