Important Shortcuts for Auto Service and Repairs

A Few Troubleshooting Tips for a Manual Clutch

by Emilia Latvala

While automatic transmissions may be most common today, some people who own sports cars, trucks, or who enjoy going off-roading may still prefer a manual transmission. This gives them complete control of the gears when driving at top speeds, when towing heavy loads, or when trying to get out of soft soil and sand. If you own a vehicle with a manual clutch or transmission, you need to understand the signs of trouble and have those addressed as soon as possible. This can help you to avoid more extensive repairs down the road and ensure you're not doing anything to cause more damage. Note the following.

1. Clutch won't release

First be sure that the clutch pedal is fully depressed; many car owners forget to depress the clutch pedal all the way to the floor to have it release. If the pedal is fully depressed and the clutch won't release so that you cannot change gears, the car may have a broken or stretched release cable, air in the clutch hydraulic lines or cylinders, or maladjusted linkage in the transmission chains. If you don't know how to bleed the lines of the clutch or replace the release cable, leave this to a professional mechanic, such as Precision Differential & Gearbox Centre. A transmission shop can also check the linkage along the chains of the transmission and replace these as needed.

2. Whirring sound

When trying to shift gears, you might hear a loud whirring sound. This could be a worn flywheel. The flywheel attaches the clutch to the engine and uses teeth to keep the car in gear. When the teeth are worn, you'll hear a whirring sound. This sound could also be the pressure plates on the clutch; these are in front of the flywheel and these too have teeth that may get worn, causing a whirring sound. 

3. Slipping

If your car slips out of gear, this may be a problem with the cable release adjuster; this is a cable that connects the stick shift to the clutch itself. The cable could be broken or worn and need replacing. There may also be grease or oil contamination in the clutch itself, so that the gears more easily slip. 

Very often slipping is caused by heat and friction in the clutch that damages any of these parts; riding the clutch, or keeping the pedal depressed between shifting, can cause this extra heat. This is why it's good to never ride the clutch or otherwise misuse it between shifting, to avoid excessive wear and tear.