How to Know if Your Vehicle Needs a Clutch Replacement

Manual Transmission Clutch ReplacementClutch replacement or repair on any car or truck with a manual transmission is a service that usually doesn’t raise its ugly head until after the vehicle has traveled 75k to 100k miles. Of course your driving habits can drastically affect that number. A driver who uses the clutch properly can get 200k miles from a clutch. By contrast, someone who abuses a clutch can burn it up in 25k miles.

Since you are reading this article about clutches, you may own a manual transmission vehicle in need of clutch repair or service. Or maybe you’ve found a good deal on a vehicle that might need clutch work. In either case, we applaud that you’re doing some research beforehand. Of course, another item of business will be choosing a qualified repair shop to perform your clutch repair.

In this article, we provide some basic information about clutches that can help you know what to ask and how to better describe the symptoms you may be having when talking with an automotive repair professional about clutch repair or replacement. The goal is to help you feel more confident and informed before deciding which clutch services you need.

Lets start by explaining what a clutch is and a brief description of how it works. The word clutch is used to describe a number of parts that work together to allow the driver to disconnect the engine’s power from the vehicle’s tires long enough to allow the shift lever to be moved into another gear. If the clutch doesn’t properly disengage from the engine’s power, the driver will not be able to smoothly move the shift lever without that grinding noise that means wear and tear on the gears.

Internal Clutch PartsThe internal clutch assembly consists of a number of parts or components. For a vehicle to shift correctly, the clutch system parts must be in good working order and not be worn beyond acceptable limits. When talking with a clutch repair professional, the following is a list of terms you’ll probably hear:

  • Flywheel
  • Clutch disc
  • Pressure plate
  • Throw out bearing or release bearing (frequently abbreviated as T.O. bearing)
  • Pilot bearing or bushing

With the exception of the flywheel, these are components that come in a complete parts kit. Be aware that the parts can also be purchased individually. Since the labor charge for doing a clutch job is usually half of the total cost, it is never cost effective to replace only certain parts from the kit. This is because you risk having to go back at a later date to replace the other parts from the kit, which duplicates the labor expense. All components from the kit should be replaced during a clutch replacement. This page from a Napa Parts website shows pictures of clutch parts and gives explanations about each part, if you want more information.

The flywheel is bolted to the engine and transfers power to the clutch disc. When a disc wears out or slips against the flywheel it damages the flywheel surface. Every clutch replacement must include re-surfacing the flywheel or replacing it. If it needs replacement it can double the cost of a clutch replacement job.

On most vehicles, the clutch release bearing is moved by a clutch hydraulic system made up of a master cylinder, hoses or pipes, and a slave cylinder. When the driver pushes the clutch pedal down to shift the transmission, a piston in the master cylinder pushes fluid down to the slave cylinder, which in turn moves the T.O. bearing to disengage the clutch.
Watch this video to see how the clutch parts work together during transmission shifts:

How can you tell if a clutch is going bad?

If your vehicle is having problems with a clutch you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Clutch pedal feels weak or goes to the floor too easily
  • Transmission is hard to get into gear or won’t shift correctly
  • Grinding noise happens with shifting
  • Clutch slippage on acceleration with lack of power
  • Clutch shudder or chatter while letting out the clutch
  • Hot or burning smell when you let the clutch out

These problems could be from internal clutch part problems or from the hydraulic system not working correctly. If you are experiencing any of these conditions you can contact us at AutoTranz Transmission or another shop that specializes in clutch diagnosis and repair. Don’t try to save money by having a general repair shop diagnose this problem. The following gives more information to explain why.

Save on clutch replacement cost

The key to saving money on clutch replacement cost is finding a repair shop that knows how to correctly diagnose a clutch problem. While a general repair shop may quote you a lower estimate for your clutch repair or replacement, their lack knowledge or expertise can result in misdiagnosis of the problem. In the end, you’ll be asked to pay for an unsatisfactory repair that will require additional inconvenience and expense to be done by a clutch specialist like AutoTranz in Boise.

Searching for a shop with the lowest clutch replacement cost can backfire. Using less expensive parts appears to cost you less up front, but it usually means you end up with an inferior clutch that wears out sooner. Using quality replacement parts can mean your clutch will last for thousands of miles longer than a repair with inferior parts.

Another consideration is when a shop quotes a clutch job that includes only the main components rather than all internal clutch parts. This shop may call you back after your car is taken apart with a revised quote that includes the rest of the components so your “less expensive” clutch replacement ends up not being less expensive after all.

The price of quality parts and qualified labor are generally the same from one shop to another. An experienced ASE clutch technician will save you money by replacing all the necessary clutch components with quality parts to give you a replacement clutch that will last for years.

Manual Transmission ShifterWhen you choose a transmission repair shop that has the knowledge and experience to diagnose your problem correctly, you can’t help but save money. An experienced transmission/clutch technician can identify whether the grinding noise during a shift indicates a clutch problem or an internal problem in the manual transmission. An inexperienced repair technician might misdiagnosis this type of transmission problem as a clutch problem and you end up with an expensive clutch replacement when the problem is actually an internal transmission problem.

At AutoTranz Transmissions, we specialize in transmissions and clutches. Our ASE certified transmission technician has years of experience and expertise in diagnosing and repairing these systems. Honest and reliable, we provide written quotes before any work is started. If you are looking for a clutch replacement repair shop in Parma please give us a call (208) 722-7429 or contact us online. We are located at 102 N 5th St, Parma ID 83660.