How to Properly Replace Your Clutch

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The clutch is an important component of a manual transmission vehicle. It connects the power coming from the engine to the transmission so that the wheels can turn. Since the engine and transmission cannot always be in contact with each other, the clutch is there to control that connection. A clutch has to be durable in order to withstand the constant motions of engaging and disengaging the engine and transmission, but even the best clutches wear out after a certain amount of time. When this happens, owners are faced with the choice of shopping for a new clutch and replacing it themselves, or hiring a mechanic to do the work for them. The choice can be difficult because a professional is likely to charge a lot for the project, and since replacing the clutch is a tricky process, it is hard for people to do at home.

How a Clutch Works

The only part of the clutch that owners usually see is the pedal that they press to engage or disengage it. However, the clutch consists of multiple parts that are part of the vehicle's drivetrain. It plays a very important part in keeping a vehicle running. The engine's pistons are always turning over and generating power, but there are times when that power needs to be temporarily disconnected. For example, a manual transmission vehicle cannot come to a stop unless that power is disengaged, and the vehicle cannot be put into higher or lower gears while still receiving power from the engine.

The clutch system consists of nine main parts that include the bell housing, release fork, clutch housing, throw-out bearing, clutch plate, diaphragm spring, studs, pressure plate, and the flywheel. Usually the clutch system is purchased in the form of a kit so that shoppers get all of the parts they need. It is generally not recommended to replace just one part because the remaining parts are most likely worn down as well even if they are still functioning.

The flywheel is the part of the clutch that is always connected to the engine. When the clutch pedal is not engaged, the diaphragm spring pushes against the pressure plate that in turn presses the clutch plate into the flywheel. When the whole system is engaged like this, the engine is able to spin the transmission shaft, which in turn moves the wheels.
When the clutch pedal is pushed in, the pressure on the diaphragm spring is released, causing it to disconnect from the flywheel and the engine.

How to Tell When You Need a New Clutch

The easiest way to tell that a clutch needs to be replaced is when it completely stops functioning. Without the clutch the vehicle cannot start without jumping forward and then it cannot shift out of first gear or stop without the engine dying. Since this is a bad situation for people to find themselves in, it is better to replace the clutch before it reaches this point. There are several warning signs to look out for that could indicate a failing clutch.

●The clutch is difficult to put into gear; it seems to catch and has to be forced into place
●A burning smell is created from the clutch overheating
●There is a grinding noise when changing gears, or a grinding noise occurs for no reason after it is already in gear
●The vehicle seems to jerk around when first put into gear, due to a buildup of oil or debris that prevents the clutch disc and the flywheel from connecting properly

Replacing the Clutch at Home

Replacing a clutch is a big job even for those who already have the tools and know how to do it. Every vehicle is different so the process is never exactly the same. In general, replacing the clutch on a front-wheel drive vehicle is much more difficult than replacing it on a rear-wheel car, truck, or minivan.

On a rear-wheel vehicle, multiple parts of the vehicle have to be removed before the clutch can even be reached. For example, the driveshaft, transmission, and bell housing must be taken off in order to replace the clutch and then they have to be reinstalled after the work is done. Since the transmission is heavy, it is the most difficult part to remove and reinstall. Usually several people are needed in order to ensure that it is not dropped.

Because of the configuration of front-wheel drive vehicles, they are the hardest to replace the clutch on. Either the engine or the transaxle has to be removed in order to get to the clutch. Both of these projects require a lot of disassembly that is very complex.
Anyone who chooses to replace the clutch themselves should take the time to learn as much about their vehicle as possible. Every make and model of vehicle is different so the instructions must be specific to that car, truck, or van. Often there are vehicle repair manuals for sale that shoppers can purchase, or there are free "how to" videos available online.

Hiring a Mechanic to Replace the Clutch

Mechanics already have the knowledge and training needed to replace the clutch and they are far more likely to do the job correctly than someone who is trying to do it on their own. It is very rare for a vehicle project to go as planned. Usually there is something unexpected such as a rusted bolt or an additional broken piece that causes issues. If such problems arise, a mechanic can fix it. However, these issues can slow owners down or completely stop the project if it is something that they do not know how to handle.

Unfortunately, taking a vehicle to a mechanic is the most expensive way to get a replacement clutch. However, since they can do the work much faster and it is more likely to be done correctly, the extra investment could be worth it. It could easily take a week or more for a person to replace their own clutch, and if this is their main vehicle, then they have no means of transport.

If using a mechanic, owners need to verify the shop's reputation. They can do this by asking their friends about the local shops or they can see if there are any online reviews that have been posted by previous customers.

How to Find a Replacement Clutch on eBay

If you have decided to do the repairs yourself, or you would rather select the parts for your mechanic to use, then shopping on eBay is a great way to find the parts you need at a local cost. You can see if there are any sales available on the eBay Deals page, or you can browse between a multitude of sellers who have clutches for sale. To do this, you can visit any eBay page and use the search bar to find what you want. For example, if you type " clutch kits" eBay compiles a list of all the clutch kits that are for sale on the site. You can then begin to compare products, read reviews, and decide which ones are the best buy.

Conclusion

As one of the most important parts of the vehicle, it is imperative that the clutch stays in good working order. A clutch that is worn down could go out at any minute which could possibly leave the driver stranded unless they are able to get the vehicle started in first gear. Simply paying attention to how the clutch functions on a regular basis can help alert owners to the warning signs that indicate a failing clutch. Once they realise the clutch may be breaking down, they can either take the vehicle to a mechanic immediately, or decide whether or not they want to attempt the project themselves. A lot of consideration and forethought should be put into this because it is no small project, requires many tools, and is not guaranteed to go smoothly.
 
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