Learning how to drive a car with a manual transmission is an important skill to have, but once you've learned and you buy your first manual vehicle, you also need to understand how to identify problems with the clutch assembly. After all, if your clutch starts to act up, you may find yourself unable to shift, which essentially renders your car nearly useless. Here are a few things that you may see happen with your clutch and some of the things that can cause those symptoms.
Poor Shift Response Or Temperamental Shifting
If you're getting a poor response from your transmission, such as having to be in a precise placement to get the gears to shift (sometimes called notchy shifting, as though it's a small notch to get the gears to shift), it could be caused by a number of things.
The clutch may not be releasing correctly due to problems with the release linkage. You can adjust the release linkage to help fix this. It could also be that your shifter and shift linkage. If either are not adjusted correctly, it can bind the shifter a little bit.
It could be the result of worn synchronizer rings, a bad bearing on the input shaft, or damage on the shift forks. If the spring pack on the clutch disc is hitting the flywheel, that can also cause the same problem. You may have a problem with the pressure plate, or it could simply be that your transmission fluid is low or dirty.
A slipping clutch is usually indicated by a loss of power, usually in lower gears first. If you find that you're seeing some reduction in power when you shift in first or second gear, it could be that the clutch is slipping. This is usually the result of adjustment issues.
Whether it's the clutch itself or the release linkage, you can often fix slippage by adjusting them so that they are properly responsive. If it's not an adjustment problem, it could be caused by a problem with the throwout bearing.
Another common cause of slipping is the presence of grease or oil in the clutch assembly. If there's a leak somewhere in the clutch assembly area, it could blow oil onto the components, causing them to lose grip and engagement. The same applies if the clutch disc is glazed, which you can fix by having the flywheel resurfaced.
If you've upgraded your engine to produce more power, you may have actually overtaxed the clutch assembly. Remember that your clutch is rated for specific power production, so if the engine is putting out more power than the clutch can handle, it could slip. Upgrade the clutch assembly to fix this. The same applies if you've put larger tires on the vehicle. When you upgrade to a larger tire diameter, that can tax the existing clutch assembly. Upgrade the clutch assembly to accommodate for the increase.
Finally, it could be caused by actual damage to your clutch assembly. Whether it's a broken clutch disk, a damaged throwout bearing, or a bent assembly, all of these things will interfere with how the clutch responds.
Clutch Not Releasing Properly
If the clutch isn't releasing the way that it's supposed to, that can interfere with your ability to shift. Sometimes, it's because of a problem with damaged or poorly adjusted linkage. It may also be the result of binding in the flywheel, which means it needs to be resurfaced so that the clutch can release correctly.
You may also find that it's due to a leak in the hydraulics, because that will interfere with the pressure in the system, keeping it from responding properly. Have the entire system inspected to determine the source of the issue.