Although the popularity of automatic transmissions continues, many drivers still enjoy the art of shifting gears while traveling from point A to point B. For this reason, the popularity of manual transmission remains even today.
Under ideal circumstances, a manual transmission is usually quite generous and lasts for years without problems. However, like anything mechanical in nature, even the toughest manual transmissions can’t escape the possibility of potential wear and fatigue.
In the vast majority of cases, the clutch in a manual transmission is the first component to reach the point of failure. This is mainly because the clutch in a manual transmission wears out a lot, by design.
Over time, a worn clutch will begin to slip or loosen the spool when it would otherwise be engaged. Recognizing the symptoms of a slipping clutch is important because it allows you to address the situation before it worsens.
Recognizing the different symptoms of a slipping clutch is also helpful when trying to speed up the final repair. Read on to learn the many symptoms of a slipping clutch, as well as how to fix these problems if they occur in the future.
See also: What transmission does my car have?
What is clutch slippage?
A vehicle’s clutch “slips” when its friction plates do not engage properly with the transmission flywheel. As a result, the clutch has no spool, instead of sitting firmly against the contact surface of the flywheel as expected.
To better understand this principle, you must first familiarize yourself with the role a vehicle’s clutch plays in the operation of a manual transmission. Basically, a clutch acts as the mechanical connection between a vehicle’s engine and transmission.
When driving on the road, a vehicle’s clutch is pressed firmly against a flywheel mounted on the engine using a spring-loaded pressure plate. The clutch friction plates are coated with a specialized coating that causes them to engage with the surface of the flywheel.
When engaged in this way, a vehicle’s clutch directs the power of an engine through the transmission itself.
Every time a motorist presses the clutch pedal of their vehicle, a release bearing releases all the force applied by the aforementioned pressure plate. The clutch itself separates from the vehicle’s flywheel, preventing the transfer of power to the transmission.
In the case of a friction clutch, the vehicle’s clutch assembly cannot grip the engine flywheel as expected, causing these friction discs to “slip” on the contact surface of the flywheel.
What is a friction clutch like?
Clutch slippage is often felt as a general lack of acceleration when you release the vehicle’s clutch pedal and step on the accelerator. In general, engine rpm will steadily increase, even if the vehicle in question is not getting the amount of traction the driver expects.
In many cases, clutch slippage is often accompanied by the smell of friction material and intermittent engine load spikes. In the most severe cases, a vehicle will feel like it is being held in place or will have significant hesitation when accelerating.
Situations like this are almost always more common when the engine is cold or when the car’s powertrain is under load.
Signs of clutch slippage
There are several different signs that can be used to identify a slipper clutch. Learning to recognize these signs can be very helpful when trying to avoid getting stuck in place, in the absence of a repairman.
These are some of the most common symptoms of clutch slippage.
#1 – Irregular noise
Clutch slippage is often accompanied by a number of unusual noises, most of which can be accurately described as rumbling or chattering. These noises come from the inability of the clutch to firmly grip the contact surface of the flywheel.
#2 – Lack of acceleration
When a clutch begins to slip, a driver will often notice that their vehicle does not accelerate with as much authority as before. This is because the potential energy produced by a vehicle’s engine is lost when the clutch itself slides on the surface of the flywheel.
#3 – Smell
Clutch slippage is often associated with a noticeable burning smell, as friction material is continually ground into the wheel’s mating surface every second of engine operation. This smell is similar to that of burnt brakes.
#4 – Intermittent loss of acceleration
Drivers may also notice that their vehicle sometimes hesitates when accelerating. This hesitation actually occurs when a vehicle’s worn clutch plates slide on a wheel-mating surface.
In most cases, the engine RPM will also increase when this happens.
#5 – Transfer problems
A manual transmission relies on clutch disengagement to facilitate a clean, effortless shift cycle. If a vehicle’s clutch has begun to slip, its ability to shift cleanly could be negatively affected.
Instead, the creaking and clanking of gears is often heard.
#6 – Irregularities in the clutch foot
Another common sign of clutch slippage or damage is the sudden appearance of irregularities in the clutch pedal. A condition like this often causes a vehicle’s clutch pedal to feel spongy and pressured.
Alternatively, you may notice that your vehicle’s tread sticks or vibrates from time to time.
Also read: How to adjust your clutch pedal
What causes clutch slippage?
Clutch slippage can be the result of many underlying conditions. However, the most important of these conditions is related to normal wear and tear. A vehicle’s clutch is not intended to last indefinitely, due to normal wear and tear that causes the friction disc to come into contact with the flywheel.
The habit of rolling on the clutch is a sure way to accelerate clutch wear and increase the chances of clutch slippage.
Other common causes of clutch failure include oil or grease contamination, clutch pickup problems, dangerously loose bearings, pressure plate problems, and flywheel runout. In either case, the root cause of any clutch failure must be diagnosed and repaired before a clutch replacement can be completed.
Does a slipper clutch consume more fuel?
In fact, a slipping clutch can cause a vehicle’s engine to consume more fuel. This is because the potential energy produced by a vehicle’s engine is not used as efficiently as possible.
Instead, much of this energy is expelled when the clutch “slips,” rather than going to the corresponding drive wheels. This, in turn, can lead to (more) pumping pain.
How long does a clutch last after it starts to slip?
There are very few ways to determine how long a clutch will last after it starts to slip. There are several variables involved in such a decision, none of which are in science. accurate
However, it’s safe to say that failure is imminent when a clutch begins to slip. This can happen in days, weeks, or months.
Either way, your vehicle’s fender should be properly repaired as soon as possible after a skid has been confirmed. This is because the problem at hand will only get worse over time, leaving you stuck down the road. Not only that, this is a huge inconvenience, but also a safety hazard.
Can a slipper clutch be fixed?
In the vast majority of cases, the only real way to repair a vehicle’s clutch after it starts to slip is to replace it. These types of repairs involve removing the vehicle’s transmission and various accessories, before changing and resetting the clutch.
This type of work is quite complex and requires the use of specialized equipment in almost all cases. Unless you are an experienced amateur mechanic, clutch replacement is best left to the professionals.
It is also important to address any possible causes of premature clutch failure. This includes oil/grease contamination and steering wheel distortion. If these conditions are not corrected before installing a new clutch, you will risk repeating the same repairs in a relatively short period of time.