Is your clutch failing?

Posted on December 30th, 2021 by GEM Motoring Assist

Major clutch problems are expensive to resolve. The main reason is that most cars have to be dismantled extensively to replace the clutch kit. In most cases, the gearbox has to be removed. However, it is always worth consulting a garage first, before presuming that the clutch is worn out, because some issues can be caused by less expensive ancillary parts.


When a clutch’s friction lining has worn completely, the result tends to be ‘slip’. This condition occurs usually in the higher gears, when depressing the accelerator causes the engine revs to rise with no corresponding increase in road speed.


In recent years, self-adjusting clutches have appeared, the main advantage of which is that the amount of pressure required to depress the clutch pedal remains constant throughout the clutch’s operating life. Traditionally, as the clutch wears, the pedal becomes harder to depress.


For the technically-minded, the pressure plate (known otherwise as the clutch ‘cover’) contains the self-adjustment mechanism – as pictured. When the clutch approaches the end of its life and maximum adjustment is reached, the diaphragm fingers will touch an internal cage. The real-world consequence is that the clutch pedal becomes harder to press during the second half of its stroke.


Therefore, if you are looking at a used car, or even if you want to check your own, if you notice that the clutch pedal becomes noticeably heavier on the second part of its travel, the self-adjusting clutch may have reached its adjustment limits, even if the clutch has not yet started to slip. This is a useful indication to the driver (or potential car buyer) that the clutch has reached the end of its life.