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How Does a Clutch Work? (Plus The Interaction With The Fly Wheel)

How Does a Clutch Work? (Plus The Interaction With The Fly Wheel)
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Motors have a limited range of torque that they can operate with. If the engine goes outside of this range you will notice that it will stall on you. This is why an engine will have multiple gears and in order to shift gears the clutch comes into play.

How does a clutch work? Well a clutch is basically a disc that is automatically handled in newer cars but most older cars have a third pedal to manually control it. Controlling the clutch all takes place toward the front of the transmission.

The clutch is made to disconnect the power from the engine and then reapply the power once the gear has been shifted. This allows the engine to keep running without it stalling out.

The engine has what is called a fly wheel that constantly spins. When you press the clutch in the car you are pulling the clutch “disc” away from the flywheel. In doing this you are disconnecting the power and this is how you shift gears.

On the inside of the clutch there is whats called a diaphragm spring. When the center of the spring is pressed the outside of the ring fluctuates in the opposite direction. You can think of this similar to squeezing your stomach in. When you squeeze your stomach in the outside of it expands out.

When the clutch is pressed the diaphragm spring goes into action. The exterior ring pulls the clutch away from the flywheel in which you have disengaged to power to the transmission.

To make the transition smoother, the clutch also has springs to assist with the engagement which is referred to as a output hub. When the clutch pedal is released and the clutch itself is returned to the revolving flywheel wheel there are springs that assist with the power grabbing it.

These springs take some of the torque and ease the transition over to the clutch.

What Happens When a Clutch Goes Out?

When a clutch goes out it will be very difficult to shift if you can shift at all. If this is the case you will most likely experience the clutch going to the floor without being able to shift. This is a good way to tell if the clutch has gone out or not.

Another thing that will happen when the clutch starts to go out is that you will notice it will start slipping. While the clutch is slipping you will also probably notice a burning smell.

One other sign of the clutch going out is if the clutch pedal begins to feel like a sponge.

How to Shift Without Clutch?

This is not recommended as it is bad for both your clutch and your flywheel. Cars aren’t made for this. With that being said, there are a lot box truck and larger size trucks that do allow you to shift without a clutch.

To simply shift without a clutch just move the stick from one gear to the next. Again, this isn’t recommended in normal car.

How long does it take to replace a clutch? (And How Much?)

A good professional mechanic can replace a clutch in around 5 hours and with a less experienced one it could take up to two shifts, 14-16 hours. The cost for a new clutch is only about $40-$60 but the labor is where the bill adds.

To replace a clutch it will be around $700 so a full replacement would most like be right around $1,000 with overhead fees and what not.

What Does a Burnt Clutch Smell Like?

A burnt clutch has a similar smell that a brake caliper has. This is more common on semi trucks, but if a break caliper freezes or locks up it will give of a good hot metal pad smell.

This smell is very similar to a burnt clutch smell and is due to a clutch having similar pads on it that grabs the flywheel when you are reengaging the transmission with the clutch pedal.

How to Test a Clutch? (5 Ways to Test a Clutch)

First, the easy way to test to see if a clutch is burnt out is to fire up the car in neutral. Put the car in gear and let the clutch out. If the car stays running and doesn’t move then you have just confirmed that the clutch is burnt out.

A second way in testing a clutch is to simply sit in the car and see how the clutch pedal feels. In pressing the clutch can any binding or noise be felt or heard? If so you just need to verify that the noise is coming from the transmission and not the linkage or the clutch pedal itself.

A third good way to test to see if the clutch is burnt out is to fire up the car in neutral. Put the car in a higher gear like second or third and slowly let the clutch go. This should make the car either start going or more likely stall. If you are able to fully release the clutch and nothing happens then the clutch is bad.

A fourth way to test to see if your clutch has gone is to simply sit in the car with the engine off. Once in the car press the clutch and try to put the car in gear. If you have a hard time putting the car into gear then you have just confirmed your clutch is bad.

One final way to test whether or not your clutch is going out is to get it up to speed and try to step on the gas. If you see the RPM’s on your tachometer increase and your speed isn’t then your clutch is slipping and needs to be repelaced.

How to Not Burn A Clutch? (3 Ways)

As with anything, this starts how good you take care or beat one something. If you are a normal easy driver then not burning your clutch really shouldn’t be an issue.

If you like to jump on the gas from a fully stopped position then you are definitely making more work and burning your clutch every time you take off (or doing burn outs).

Another thing that tends to burn a clutch up is when you ride or rock it back and forth. This is easily done either on hills or in heavy traffic. If traffic is just inching along and you are simply constantly pressing and releasing the clutch then you are also slowly burning a clutch.

Prematurely shifting can also burn a clutch. If you don’t fully have the clutch pedal pressed and start shifting gears you are burning your clutch. Make sure the clutch pedal is fully down prior to shifting the gears.