Imagine your vehicle’s clutch giving up on you while you are far away from help or on your way to an important meeting. The clutch of any vehicle is one of the most critical parts. It is the only link between the engine and the transmission and if it fails, you would not be able to move your vehicle ahead. The clutch goes through a lot of wear and tear and it can also wear out quickly depending on the driving style. Cars that mostly spend time in the bumper-to-bumper traffic situations are likely to have a short life and the same goes for the vehicles that operate mostly in the hilly areas. But what are the signs that will tell you that its time to replace the clutch?
This is one of the most common warning sign that you will notice when the clutch wears out too much. If you see the car’s engine RPM increasing but the vehicle is failing to gain speed, it means that the clutch is slipping and it is almost towards the end of its life. This is the primary sign of the clutch giving up. Why does it happen? Because the clutch plates fail to provide enough traction and the power from the engine fails to transfer to the transmission.
If you want to be sure that the clutch is slipping, you can try this method. Come to idle, shift to neutral and engage the handbrake. Now put the shifter in third gear and slowly release the clutch without releasing the handbrake. If the engine stalls, it is a sign of a healthy clutch. If not, you need to change the clutch.
Ever got a hopping feeling when you release the clutch too fast? If you get the same feedback from your car when you are driving at slower speeds, it can mean that the clutch system has some contamination. It is also possible that the grease of water has entered the clutch system. That’s why shuddering happens after driving through a flooded road. In most cases, it goes away after driving around for a few kilometres. However, if you keep experiencing shuddering all the time, it is possible that the friction plate in the clutch is not doing its job properly. Misaligned engine and gearbox due to worn-out engine mounts or transmission mounts can be the cause too.
If you hear a ringing or chirping noise when you release the clutch pedal, it can an indication of a problem. The sound may go away when the clutch pedal is fully depressed but returns when you release it. This humming sound is caused by the worn-out clutch release bearing. If not replaced with a new one, it can lead to a bent clutch fork, which can cause problems with the pressure plate.
If you experience difficulty in slotting the transmission lever into any of the gears, you have a clutch problem. Also, you may feel metal grinding when you try to forcefully slot into a position even with the clutch engaged completely. This can happen due to a bent clutch fork, leaking slave cylinder in the hydraulic-type clutchh or badly adjusted cable-type clutch. It can be fixed by making adjustments.
If you’re driving the vehicle properly, there should not be any need to change the clutch before it reaches about 1 lakh km. However, if you like to push the vehicle and drive it aggressively, it will require attention much before the odometer reading reaches 1 lakh km.
If you notice clutch slipping, the cost can be anywhere from Rs 6,000 to Rs 12,000 depending on the vehicle. It is the price of the entire clutch assembly. For the CBU models, the price can go up to Rs 50,000 too. In case of shuddering, the clutch friction assembly may require replacement and that will cost you almost the same as the clutch assembly. The chirping or grinding noise can be fixed by changing the ball bearings, but since the transmission needs to be separated from the engine, it will cost you a lot of labour charges. Lastly, fixing hard-to-shift gears is not a major repair. For hydraulic clutch tyres, leaks can be detected in the cylinder which does not cost as much as the whole assembly.