Most people are aware that cars and trucks have clutches and that clutches sometimes need to be replaced. Naturally, the next question is when does the clutch need to be replaced? Unfortunately, there is no one, definitive answer. A clutch can last anywhere from 48,000 km to 160,000 km, depending on the type of vehicle, how the vehicle is driven, and even the climate in which it is driven. Cars driven in warmer climates tend to have their clutches wear out faster.
Rather than attempting to determine the longevity, it may be safer to just say that a well-maintained car is likely to go through more than one of them, and to focus on how to tell if the clutch needs to be replaced. No one wants to replace a clutch pointlessly, since replacing a clutch can often be very expensive and difficult, although delaying the operation results in lower fuel efficiency, less reliable handling, and safety issues. Hence, car owners must know the fundamentals of what clutches are, how they work, and what the signs of trouble mean.
What Is a Clutch?
Most people know that standard transmission cars have clutches and that occasionally clutches wear down and need to be replaced. But fewer people know what a clutch really is and how it works. Understanding how the clutch works is an important part of learning how to recognise when it is not working.
A clutch is the connection between two rotating shafts; in the case of a car’s drive train, the clutch is the connection between the engine and the transmission. When the clutch is engaged, the transmission rotates at the same speed as the engine does. When the clutch is disengaged, the engine continues to spin, but the transmission does not spin. This lets the car change gears or idle. If there was no clutch, the only way to stop a car from moving would be to shut down the engine. Automatic transmissions also have clutches, although the design is somewhat different.
How Does a Clutch Work?
A clutch works through friction. The clutch plate contacts a matching plate on the motor, called a flywheel, and the two plates then spin together. When the contact is first made, the two plates rub against each other briefly, until the clutch plate comes up to speed. During this rubbing, the clutch is worn away a little bit, the same way brake pads are worn away a little whenever the brake is engaged. Eventually, the clutch is worn too smooth to catch the flywheel reliably, and the clutch begins to slip occasionally. But while brake pads are worn every time the brake is used, the clutch is only worn in that moment before the two plates match speed. This is one reason that, although clutches usually need to be replaced at some point in the car’s working lifetime, they do not need to be replaced as often as brake pads do.
Over-exerted stress, as when a vehicle hauls too heavy a load for too long, or when a manual transmission is driven by someone who does not know how to change gears well, can wear out a clutch much faster. Clutches can also become warped, or other problems can occur in the transmission. Automatic transmissions typically have several clutches, any of which can go bad in exactly the same way that a manual transmission’s clutch does.
Sun Auto offers a clutch kit for most makes and models of cars. We are a leading supplier of brand name clutch kits with low prices, fast shipping and excellent customer service. Our kits includes pressure plate, clutch plate, release bearing, alignment tool and pilot bearing where applicable.
Sun Auto is a distributor and supplier of various quality vehicle clutches – including Sachs, who are constantly developing new clutch designs and actuation systems to cope with the ever-increasing demands of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers.