The clutch's job is linking your car's engine to its transmission. Since your engine is always running, even when your wheels aren't turning, your clutch has to be able to both link and separate. The clutch connects to your engine via the engine's flywheel. When the clutch is engaged (i.e. no pressure on the clutch pedal) the clutch disc is forced against the flywheel by powerful springs. Friction between the two parts forms a solid connection and the engine's motion is transmitted to the transmission. Depressing the clutch pedal causes the springs holding the clutch disc against the flywheel to relax. Without being held in place, the clutch disc loses contact and stops spinning, breaking the linkage.
It's easy for drivers to tell when the clutch is wearing out and needing replacement. A worn out, or wearing out, clutch can be harder to handle. You might notice that the pedals seem to "stick"more, and that pushing the clutch in requires more force than normal. A clutch in need of repair can also lose the smoothness of a clutch in good condition; you might notice a "sharkines" or jerking motion when the clutch moves from gear to gear, or even total loss of control at times, as the clutch slips out of gear entirely. If you haven't noticed a gradual wearing-down of your clutch, and find yourself in a sudden clutch crisis - the clutch stops working entirely or you notice smoke or the smell of electrical fire underneath your hood, you're likely in for a surprise clutch replacement.
When you notice that you are having issues with your Transmission service or clutch, it is very important to have it checked as soon as possible. Signs that you may need to bring your vehicle in to be checked:
- fluid leaking,
- rought shifting,
- delayed engagement,
- high rpm's or slipping,
- check engine or transmission light on (even if it turns off by itself),
- shudder feeling at highway speeds (feels like you are driving over rumble strips),
- other abnormal noises.