Do I Need a New Clutch? How to Determine it's Time

January 6th, 2015 by

new clutch
A worn-out clutch is inevitable in a car with a manual transmission. However, its lifespan is dependent on how the car is driven, how hot the climate where you live is, and the type of car that you drive, according to HowStuffWorks. Due to these variables, there is no set length of time that a clutch lasts.
Select Auto Imports estimates that a clutch can last between 20,000 and 150,000 miles, which is a significant difference in range. Thankfully there are ways to tell if the clutch is going and a new clutch needs to be installed.

How to Tell if You Need a New Clutch

Paying attention to the way your clutch “feels” and the way it smells will help you diagnose a bad one. Here’s what to look for:

  • Clutch that Feels “Squishy” or “Spongy” If you notice that when you shift gears that the gear doesn’t catch until the clutch is almost all of the way released, then it is showing wear.
  • A Burning Smell When the clutch “slips,” meaning it hasn’t successfully engaged the engine, a great amount of friction is created. It is the friction that causes a burning smell.
  • Clutch “Slips” when Power is Applied If the clutch cannot successfully engage the engine the RPMs will greatly increase when you try to accelerate.
  • Trouble Shifting If your car shakes when you shift gears, that may be a sign that you need a new clutch. This is especially noticeable in first gear and reverse.
  • You Hear Squealing or Chirping If you hear a squealing or chirping sound when you press in the clutch, there may be a worn or damaged part that is associated with it. It is best to have your car looked at to pinpoint the problem exactly.

Problems with the Clutch in an Automatic Transmission

Vehicles with automatic transmissions can have problems with their clutches, too. “The engine will suddenly race without the vehicle moving faster, most commonly during a gear shift,” according to eHow. “The vehicle may also be slow to take off from a stop.” Automatic transmissions have clutch plates, and if these plates are failing that is where the problem lies.
If you’re having problems with your clutch call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 to schedule an appointment to have the clutch assessed, repaired, or replaced.