Guide to buying clutches
The clutch is a fundamental part of our vehicle, since it is what transmits the power from the engine to the transmission shaft. Therefore, it is essential to be clear about everything we need to know when buying one of these parts, for which you can use our guide to buy the best clutch, in which we give you some clues so as not to be wrong. And also so that you do not spend more in the process, if it is not necessary.
Monomass or bimass
One of the main aspects that drivers are unaware of is the type of clutch that our vehicle uses . At present, when it comes to passenger cars and the like, the clutch that it mounts can be of two main types: single-mass and dual-mass. These are the ones that we find in any comparison of clutches that we have at hand and they are the ones that we are going to analyze next.
The single-mass clutch is one that has a single clutch disc, together with a connection disc, which are the ones that separate when driving. It is the model that is still used in the cheapest vehicles and also the one that has been used until about 15 years ago in the higher-end models, which is the estimated date on which the new dual-mass models began to be introduced.
These dual-mass models , as the name suggests, add a second disc to the clutch, so we have two weight plates and an adjusting wheel, so to speak. These two moving masses roll in a synchronized way and allow to reduce the workload on the crankshaft and the transmission, by absorbing both the vibrations of the engine and the excess forces, which are not transferred to these two elements. For this reason, these models are usually mounted on vehicles with the highest power and cost.
There is a high difference in how much a single-mass clutch and a dual-mass clutch cost, and it is advisable to keep the clutch originally installed depending on the type. However, there are kits to convert expensive dual-mass clutches into cheaper single-mass clutches, although this means increasing the discomfort and vibrations that we have discussed previously.
What clutch do I need
Once the most important mention has been made regarding the clutch that we need to buy, surely we have the doubt of how to order it or how to identify it. It is not a minor question, given that determining which clutch our car uses is not easy. Luckily, we have a very valuable document to help us, such as the vehicle’s technical data sheet.
This document contains all the data of our vehicle, which is what we will need to choose the most appropriate product. Because when searching it is not enough to think that we need a clutch for a Seat Ibiza or for a Volkswagen Golf, but we will have to think about other details of the vehicle.
Among these details we have the power of the engine, the fuel it uses, the specific version of the vehicle or even the year of manufacture. All these details are what we need to determine the exact part for our vehicle. In general, when looking at these clutches we are usually told as a reference for which models of a certain vehicle they are recommended, although checking them specifically never hurts, so as not to have problems later.
Original or brand
The last aspect to which we are going to refer has to do with the manufacturer of the clutch. Many times we are recommended, especially from the dealer, to use only original spare parts. But seeing the cheap price of other products from well-known brands and with the same utility, the truth is that it is reasonable to think if we are so interested in using the brand.
In general, the compatible models manufactured by major brands such as Valeo, Sachs or LKD have as good quality as the original spare parts manufactured by the brand. In fact, there are many vehicles in which these parts come directly from some of these big brands. So the choice between one and the other has little difference in terms of quality, but it does in the price of the clutch that we are evaluating to buy.
What we should not do is buy spare parts from little-known brands or those that, even though they are branded, have suspiciously cheap prices. Although brands go to great lengths to fight counterfeits, it is still possible to fall into the traps of one of these scammers and end up giving us a hoax when it comes to buying a clutch.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: Why does a clutch wear out?
The main reason has to do with the friction between the different mechanical parts that are part of the clutch. Let us remember that the purpose of the clutch is precisely to facilitate the connection between the motor and the transmission shaft, so that wear is reasonable . However, it may vary depending on factors such as the pace of driving or the way you step when driving. So reasonable use of the clutch increases its useful life and reduces such wear.
Q2: When to release clutch?
While driving, the clutch should be released once we have fully engaged the gear. If we do it before, it is possible that this gear enters “scratching” the gearbox, which affects both the integrity of the clutch itself and the discs that are part of said box.
Q3: How to bleed hydraulic clutch?
The clutch bleeding process allows us to eliminate the air present in the circuit, which gives a strange or spongy feeling when stepping on the pedal. To remove the air, it is necessary to completely drain the circuit and look for the leak that causes the air to penetrate, since a hydraulic clutch is a closed circuit. Once it is covered, it is time to fill the clutch circuit with liquid again, suitable for the type of clutch that we use, and verify that everything works as it should.
Q4: Why does the clutch vibrate?
Clutch vibrations have two main causes. The first is a shallow footprint. If instead of fully depressing the pedal we let our foot fall on the clutch, it does not activate completely, which causes these vibrations. However, vibrations of increasing intensity when the clutch is fully depressed can be caused by part wear problems or improper adjustment. That is why it is recommended that the piece be analyzed by a professional, to solve the problem correctly.
Q5: When to change the clutch?
It is one of the answers that has a complex answer. If you take a look at the maintenance manual of your vehicle, it is possible that it will mark a certain interval or mileage, around 120,000 or 150,000 kilometers. But what makes the most difference regarding the useful life of the clutch and its durability is the driving style and the area where it is carried out. If we use low gears, we are always pressing the clutch or we circulate a lot in the city, surely the time will be less than that of a vehicle that circulates mainly on the highway, with high gears and a more reasonable use. Anyway, at the first signs of wear, such as noise or vibrations, it will be time to change the clutch for a new one.
Q6: What to do when the clutch smells of burning?
It depends on the cause that causes the clutch to present that smell. On very hot days or under considerable stress, such as driving up steep hills at high speeds, the clutch may have this odor as an effect of overheating, although it should disappear once the clutch cools down. The same happens when the clutch becomes covered in dust and dirt and it heats up. However, if the smell is continuous and is accompanied by other symptoms such as noise, vibrations or clutch slipping, then it is necessary to consider changing it.
Q7: How to regulate hydraulic clutch?
Unlike the cable clutch, whose regulation is as easy as adjusting the corresponding cable, to regulate a hydraulic clutch we must follow a somewhat more complex process. To begin, we must access the clutch and remove the spring that serves as a counterpart to the clutch cylinder, inside which is the liquid. It goes without saying that we must first verify that the circuit has the clutch fluid it needs and that there is no air inside. Once the spring is released, we measure the maximum travel or travel and adjust it with the spring and the lock nut, which allows optimizing said travel. Once assembled, we verify the assembly and make the necessary adjustments.
Q8: How to act when the clutch starts to slip?
When a clutch slips it is because its state of deterioration is more than considerable. This “slippage” is due to the fact that the springs that hold it in place, as well as the rest of the parts, have worn considerably and are already out of their useful life, being unable to withstand the motor’s own tension. So the only solution we have left is to change the clutch for a new one as soon as possible, to avoid getting stranded on the road.
How to care for a clutch
The clutch is one of the most important mechanical parts of the vehicle, since it is responsible for transferring the power from the engine to the axles. Also, it is not exactly a cheap piece. That is why we want to give you some tips on how to take care of the clutch and make the most of its useful life.
Do not put your foot on it
As we were taught in driving school, the clutch should only be depressed when changing gear. The bad habit of having the clutch depressed during our usual route affects its useful life and ends up causing play, which deteriorates its resistance and reduces its durability. To support yourself, it is always better to use the footrest.
Treat it with care
In order for the clutch to continue working as it should, it is essential that we treat the clutch with care. This translates into a smooth and never violent use, having to release the accelerator whenever we are going to clutch to avoid loading it with more effort than it needs. Nor should we disengage at high revs, unless circumstances require it, such as when climbing a slope.
On the other hand, the way to step on the clutch should be progressive and never suddenly, so that the steps on the clutch are unnecessary. What we must always do is change gear with the clutch fully depressed, to prevent the “gears” from scratching during the process. Something that is a serious problem and that can end up damaging both the gearbox and the vehicle’s own clutch system.
Keep fluids at their level
One of the great forgotten is the hydraulic fluid that allows our clutch to work. This liquid needs periodic maintenance, which mainly consists of verifying that the level of liquid in the center of the circuit is the level necessary for it to function properly. To carry out this verification, we just have to open the hood of the car, look for the clutch fluid reservoir and check that the level is between the recommended brands. It should be remembered that, barring a breakdown, this fluid should not be changed periodically.
When you stop, always in neutral
Every time you have to stop the vehicle in a traffic jam, it is advisable to put the gear in neutral, which is what it is for. The fact of having a gear engaged in a traffic light implies an additional effort for the clutch, which affects its useful life. Furthermore, modern cars with Start and Stop technology do not stop the engine as long as they are in gear.
The lever is not an armrest
As with the pedal, the simple gesture of leaning on the gear shift lever also affects both the clutch and the gearbox. A gesture that some people usually do almost without realizing it and that can shorten the useful life of all the elements included in the transmission system. Always use the armrest to avoid this problem.