Clutch Adjustment and Repair in Phoenix, AZ

Clutches are normally associated with a manual transmission. However, they are not actually integral to the inner workings of the manual transmission. Clutches are simply the connection point between the engine and the transmission. When you push the clutch in you are breaking this connection between the engine & transmission. When you let the clutch out, you are reconnecting the engine to the transmission. The reconnection from a stop has to happen in a modulated way, as not to stall the engine.

Clutches generally fail in one of two functions: their ability to engage (pedal out, primary position) or their ability to disengage (pedal depressed). Either of these two failure don’t necessitate you need a major or complete clutch replacement but often times a minimally clutch repair and/or maintenance is all that needs to happen.

Signs Your Clutch is Not Fully Engaging or Engaging At All:

  • When accelerating, the speed of the vehicle does not seem to follow engine RPM proportionally.
  • Burning smell
  • Drop in gas mileage
  • Extremely soft clutch pedal
  • Car does not want to move at all when letting out the clutch

Signs That Your Clutch is Not Fully Disengaging or Disengaging At All:

  • Difficulty shifting from gear to gear (usually effects all gear changes)
  • Grinding or scraping noise between gears
  • Although getting into reverse is generally more difficult, when a clutch is not disengaging fully, reverse can become next to impossible

Other Signs a Clutch Issue Might Be Present:

  • Chattering or jerking sensation when releasing the clutch pedal
  • Crunching noises or a “hard” clutch pedal
  • General tip for shifting into reverse: always move the shifter to a forward gear before moving to reverse.

Styles of Clutch Control:

  • Hydraulic Type: Operates much like a brake system. There is a clutch master cylinder (connected to the clutch pedal), clutch slave cylinder (connected to the clutch fork) & hydraulic lines that connect the two. Hydraulic tends to be the most common we see from vehicle manufacturers. It is more common in later model or newer model vehicles.
  • Cable Type: Simply put, a cable connects the clutch pedal to the clutch fork. The next most common type used by automobile manufacturers.
  • Linkage Type: Uses a series of rods and pivot points to connect the clutch pedal to the clutch fork. Less commonly or hardly used any more, it is generally associated with older vehicles. Linkage types tend to wear out, need repair and frequent adjustment.

All three styles generally have some sort of adjustment that can be performed. As simple as they seem to operate, we see a considerable amount of people that get a major transmission replacement or a major clutch repair, when all they needed was a minor clutch adjustment or repair.

What to do When You Need a Major Clutch Replacement:

Most mechanics in Phoenix, AZ will tell you they are happy to replace your clutch, but do they do them every day? Their operation of a clutch seems simple to most, but that’s just the problem. Technicians are guilty of overlooking simple small details that make a clutch last long and operate great. Things like the right type of grease used on the clutch splines or replacing a scared bearing retainer on the front of the transmission. Another one that gets missed is a damaged transmission input shaft at the pilot bearing race surface. Why don’t some mechanics address this? It's easier to replace the clutch when you don’t know how to work with the insides of the transmission.

Clutch Buzz Words:

Clutch Fork: Lever or leverage at the clutch that is used to compress the group of extremely strong springs in the pressure plate. They can wear out specifically at the pivot point or get damaged when a clutch release bearing goes bad. They should be inspected for possibilities of needing to be replaced with any major clutch repair were the transmission is removed.

Clutch Fork Pivot Ball: The pivot point for the clutch fork. Replacement of this ball should almost always be considered with any major clutch repair were the transmission is removed. Small detail, but some miss it.

Bearing Retainer: The bearing retainer is the piece or guide track that the release bearing rides on between clutch engagement and clutch disengagement. It is either mounted or integral to the front of the transmission. They often get overlooked or neglected with major clutch replacement were the transmission is removed because it’s an extra detail that slows the technician down. It is imperative that the surface of the bearing retainer is not damaged, scared or worn down for clutch smoothness and clutch longevity.

Release Bearing (a.k.a. throw-Out Bearing): The release bearing is sandwiched between the clutch fork & clutch pressure plate. There are different styles of release bearings. The release bearing is a failure point and should be replaced

Pilot Bearing: Fits in the back of the engine’s crank shaft, supporting the input shaft in the transmission. Hands down, this is another failure point and should be replaced with any major clutch repair were the transmission has to be removed.
Clutch Disc: This is the actual friction material in the clutch assembly. It is an item that does wear out, much like a brake pad. It’s also the reason some people get more mileage out of there clutch than others. It comes down to driver habits and technique.

Pressure Plate: Mounted to the engines flywheel it’s what compresses on the clutch disc to engage or disengage the clutch. These are almost always replaced with any major clutch repair were the transmission is removed.

Flywheel: Mounted to the engine crankshaft this is where the clutch disc rides. Much like a brake rotor, it must be machined with a proper clutch replacement. Again, another area were some like to skip or cut corners. Flywheel machine is imperative.

Dual Mass Flywheel: Becoming more common. This type of flywheel is built in two parts connected by a spring mechanism. Because of its construction they are either un-machine able and/or difficult to machine. Created for creature comfort in the vehicle, they do add considerable expense to a clutch replacement.

Clutch Master Cylinder: Much like a brake master cylinder, it is directly connected to the clutch pedal and sends hydraulic pressure to the clutch slave cylinder down at the clutch. When replacing clutch master cylinders, we often recommend they are replaced in combination with the slave cylinder. Not always necessary, but a best practice for a solid repair.

Clutch Slave Cylinder: Much like a brake wheel cylinder, its directly connected to the clutch fork or throw out bearing. When replacing clutch slave cylinders, we often recommend they are replaced in combination with the clutch master cylinder. This is not always necessary, but a best practice for the ideal repair.

Clutch Pedal Travel: The window of distance between the floor board and where the clutch pedal rests without your foot on the pedal. Typically there should almost be 1” of free travel when just starting to push the clutch in before you feel resistance and there should be 1” to 2” of room before the floorboard when the clutch is disengaged. As a clutch wears, the measurements change if not adjusted. a worn clutch will be right at the top of this window. Some types of clutches are self adjusting for this wear, while others aren’t.

Phoenix