How To Deal With A Failed Clutch

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

Driving is a great thrill and hugely convenient, however, it also comes at a financial cost.

Cars are more expensive to purchase, insure and maintain than ever before and so staying on top of their upkeep can save you a lot of money.

One part of a car which comes in for considerable wear and tear is the clutch.

The clutch on all manual transmission cars will eventually wear down and need replacing but by adopting good driving habits and smooth gear changes you can extend the life of the clutch by a considerable number of miles.

If you begin to have problems with your clutch, such as slipping out of gear or experiencing clutch ‘drag’ where the clutch does not fully release despite pushing the pedal in, then you need to seek an expert mechanical opinion.

A full clutch replacement is expensive and will often require significant parts of the engine itself to be taken apart.

This hikes the cost up still further, however, before committing to any work, you need to try and identify what the exact issue is.

There are many parts of the clutch which can suffer wear and cause issues and identifying the true cause could save you thousands of pounds.

The clutch consists of three parts, each of which are susceptible to wear.

These three parts are the clutch cable, clutch hydraulics and the friction plate.

In addition to the costs involved in replacing or repairing the worn parts of a failed clutch pedal, there are also complications to driving because of a faulty clutch pedal.

What You Will Learn

We’ve put together this guide to help you identify when your clutch may be worn or need repairing.

If you drive a car with manual transmission, taking care of it is vital, so we will give you some tips for looking after your clutch and also some advice as to what to do if your clutch is broken.

We’ve compiled our guide in to the usual format:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

How To Identify Problems With Your Clutch:

There are several signs that you may notice when your clutch is worn or beginning to fail.

We’ve identified some of these as follows:

  • When you press your clutch, if you notice that it feels spongy or perhaps is sticking, then this may be a sign that there is wear or damage and some work is needed to repair it.
  • Similarly, if you feel vibrations through your clutch pedal, or if it feels loose, then you may have some damage.
  • Noises are also a tell-tale sign that there are problems with your clutch. You will often hear a squeaking noise or even a grumbling-like noise when you depress the clutch.
  • If you can rev your engine with the accelerator but you have really poor acceleration, then this is likely to point toward having clutch issues.
  • You’ll probably have some difficulty changing gear if there are problems with the clutch. In fact, this can be one of the first signs that your clutch is worn. The earlier you spot signs like this, the better, as it gives you more of an opportunity to get it fixed before it becomes a major issue.
  • If you suffer momentary lapses of acceleration, then this is probably what’s called ‘slipping’ of the clutch.

What To Do If Your Clutch Fails:

If your clutch fails, there is very little you can do about it.

If you’re fortunate enough to be at the side of the road or parked up at home, then you can simply call a mechanic.

Here are some steps that may help you out if it fails elsewhere:

  • If you drive a manual transmission car and your clutch is broken, then changing gears becomes challenging.
  • Speed up to the point you wish to change up a gear.
  • When it’s ready to change, pull the gear-shifter out of gear.
  • Simultaneously, release your foot off the accelerator.
  • It’s important to pull the car out of gear before the car begins to decelerate.
  • Once the revs begin to drop, but remain at the high-end of the previous gear, force the gear stick into the next highest gear.
  • Hold the gear stick in position against the gear and after the RPM drops it will slip in to gear.
  • As soon as it slips into gear, you should apply the accelerator again immediately to prevent the car from jerking and slowing down.
  • Beware however, that there will always be a significant jolt as the car engages in each gear.
  • To change gears down, you should put the car into neutral, build the revs to the high end of whichever gear you want to move into, and then shift the gear stick into gear.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Like with many parts of your car, you can reduce the chances of needing to do significant repair work by taking care of it and keeping it well maintained.

Here are some tips for taking care of your clutch and extending itself lifespan:

Master The Biting Point:

If you can master the biting point of your clutch then there is going to be less wear on it when you move off the spot.

Gear Selection:

Only depress the clutch when the car is going too slow for the selected gear.

Smooth Clutch Action:

Make your clutch action in your gear changes smooth and fluid

Only Use The Clutch When Necessary:

To keep things really simple, you should only use your clutch when it is necessary to do so.

That way, you will preserve it for much longer.

Useful Information

Issues with your clutch can develop as a result of several potential mechanical failures.

One fairly common issue may be with the pedal itself and drivers are often tempted to ignore it.

A clicking may develop when using the clutch, for example, which may also result in a ‘crunching’ sensation.

This can be a sign that the pedal return spring is worn or even snapped.

If it snaps off completely without you knowing, the only sign initially may be slightly less resistance when pressing the clutch down.

You can still drive the car in this scenario, however, it will need properly fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage or wear to the clutch cable.

The key is, know your car, what it feels like and how it drives.

Final Thoughts

Driving within the limits of your car and practising the smooth change of gears and use of the clutch will put you in the strongest position possible when it comes to taking care of your clutch.

Also, make sure you consult a trustworthy mechanic when you do experience problems so that you can get an honest appraisal.

You don’t want to end up paying more than you need to be.

Further Resources