Tips for Troubleshooting Common Problems With a Manual Clutch

Most cars today have an automatic transmission that doesn't require you to operate the clutch manually. However, if you have an older car or a sportier car with a manual clutch, you may want to understand some common problems with the clutch so you know if you should have it serviced and know what to expect by way of repairs. Note a few of those problems here and some troubleshooting tips.

1. The clutch pedal doesn't move freely or moves too freely

Your car's clutch pedal may require little effort to depress and then should require more effort as you push it closer to the floor. The pedal works to compress the clutch springs, and when it's not moving properly, this is often a sign that the springs are too tense or too loose. If the clutch springs are too loose, the clutch pedal may move very freely to the floor. In turn, the clutch itself is not engaged.

In some cases it may not be the clutch springs but the pedal itself that needs adjusting. If the cables connecting the clutch pedal to the springs come loose or get worn, this can affect the tension of the pedal. It's good to have the pedal adjusted regularly so it's not too loose or too tense and can control the clutch springs as it should.

2. Whining or squealing sounds

Your car's clutch has bearings that need to rotate freely, and when they don't, you'll hear a whining or squealing sound as you depress the pedal. It's a safe bet that it's the bearings of the clutch if the whining or squealing sounds go away once you release the pedal. Since bearings are often difficult to change on your own and you want to ensure it's actually those parts and not a loose cable or other such damage, take your car to a clutch repairs mechanic if you notice these types of noises.

3. The clutch wears out sooner than it should

Your car's owner's manual will tell you the expected lifespan of your car's clutch. If it wears out much sooner than it should, chances are it's your own driving habits. You don't want to ride the clutch or keep the pedal depressed when not in use as this can wear out those clutch springs. If you haul heavy loads, this too can cause the clutch to be overworked and wear out quickly. Using the clutch to hold the car on inclines can also cause early wear. Use the clutch properly and you may see that your next one lasts as long as it should.