Before diagnosing your clutch problems, it’s important to understand what a clutch is and how it works in regard to your vehicle’s powertrain. A clutch is a mechanical component in a vehicle or other mechanical device that engages and disengages a powertrain or transmission between several rotating shafts.
The clutch connects these two shafts, allowing for either to lock together and spin at the same speed, or decouple and spin at different speeds. In most vehicles, the clutch sits between the engine and the main driveshaft, modulating torque and power from the engine to the wheels. Torque is simply any force applied at a distance. It’s measured in foot-pounds or newton-meters.
You need a clutch in your car because the engine spins all the time, but your car’s wheels don’t. To stop your car without stopping the engine, you need a way to disengage the wheels from the engine. Through the friction of the engine’s flywheel and the clutch disc, you can engage your spinning engine to a sometimes-spinning transmission and visa-versa.
Clutch pressure plate failure symptoms can occur when you aren’t engaging the clutch. The clutch springs push the pressure plate against the clutch disc. This presses against the flywheel and locks the engine to the transmission input shaft, causing both to spin at the same speed.
A Traditional Clutch Assembly Contains the Following Components:
Clutch Disc – connects to transmission
Release Mechanism (mechanical or hydraulic)
Cable – connects between clutch pedal and fork
Linkage – connects fork to pressure plate
Pressure Plate – connects to clutch disc
Flywheel – connects to engine
Pilot Bearing – connects input shaft and clutch disc
Release or “throw-out” Bearing
Clutch Fork – modulates force between pressure plate and clutch via linkage