If you’re a die-hard fan of a manual transmission, you can expect to have clutch problems at some point in time. When you first learn how to drive a standard, you’re taught not to ride the clutch. However, it’s a lesson a new driver may easily forget, inadvertently ride the clutch, and in turn cause it to wear out over time. How can you figure out when you need to have your clutch repaired or replaced? Since there aren’t any ‘length of time’ or mileage guidelines to help you decide when your clutch needs to be replaced, it’s important to know the signs of a clutch problem. Here’s a look at the top signs you may have a clutch problem in your manual transmission, that need to be addressed.
- A Burning Smell: One of the most obvious signs you’re dealing with a clutch problem in your manual transmission is a smell that is akin to the scent of burning rubber. It some cases, it may be accompanied with smoke from under your vehicle. However, this isn’t universal, so don’t dismiss that acrid smell just because smoke is absent. If you are indeed experiencing this unpleasant aroma, it means that ‘wear and tear’ and overheating to the clutch plate has resulted in clutch damage. Riding the clutch, particularly if you’re stuck in slow-moving traffic, can cause this problem, and it’s important to have your clutch checked and repaired or replaced, quickly, if you’re noticing a burning smell or seeing any smoke.
- Problems When Shifting: Do you notice that your car is shaking when you shift? Maybe the clutch isn’t engaging smoothly, and you’re having a tough time shifting. These are signs your clutch is going bad. Usually these signs show up initially in reverse or first gear, so pay particular attention when shifting into these gears, especially if you think you may have a problem.
- Slipping Out of Gear: A very common sign of a failing clutch is slipping. The car may feel like it’s slipping out of gear when you’re going uphill or accelerating. You could also notice that the vehicle slips totally out of gear, or operates in a way that feels ‘jerky’. When this occurs, it means you have a worn clutch that needs to be repaired in most cases, or possibly replaced.
- Visible Clutch Damage: If you happen to be mechanically savvy, it’s may be feasible to take off the inspection cover on the bottom of the bell housing, which allows you to see the clutch. When the clutch is going bad, you’ll often see visible signs of damage to the clutch. However, if you see some fine black dust around your clutch, it’s normal and you shouldn’t be terribly concerned. The key is to pay attention to any damage to your actual clutch.
In most cases, there will be signs that your clutch needs to be repaired or replaced. If you notice any of these signs, make sure you take it into a transmission mechanic as soon as possible. Since it’s a big job, you’ll want to leave it to the professionals, and once you have a new, or newly repaired, clutch you’ll be back to shifting those gears with a smile.