A clutch assembly is a key component of a vehicle with a manual transmission. In order to shift gears in your manual transmission, it is necessary to momentarily disengage the transmission from the engine. That is the job of the clutch. The clutch is located between the engine and transmission and provides a connection between the engine crankshaft and the input shaft of the transmission.
Under normal driving conditions, with the clutch engaged, friction between the clutch disc and the engine flywheel attached to the crankshaft causes the transmission input shaft to turn at the same speed as the engine. The clutch pressure plate uses spring tension to keep the disc in contact with the flywheel. When you press the clutch pedal to shift gears, spring tension is relieved and the clutch disc releases from the flywheel, essentially allowing the engine and transmission to work independently of one another.
A clutch assembly is made up of a number of components - the pressure plate, clutch disc, pilot bearing, and release (or “throwout”) bearing. All of these components are typically replaced when your clutch is replaced.
A clutch assembly contains components that will naturally wear out over time. The clutch disc is covered with a sacrificial friction material that grabs onto the face of the engine flywheel when the clutch is engaged. The bearings in the clutch can also wear with age.
When a new clutch is installed, it is common for a technician to replace all related components, including the pilot bearing, pressure plate, release bearing, and clutch disc. When one or more of these components wears out, you might notice the following signs:
Clutch assembly replacement involves removing all of the clutch components and replacing them with new ones. When one clutch component wears out or fails, it is likely that the others are in similar condition. And since the time it takes to replace them as a set does not differ greatly from replacing them individually, most technicians recommend that they all be replaced together.
To replace a clutch assembly, a technician must first safely lift and support your vehicle in the air for access. From there, the service typically includes the following: