While there are clear guidelines that let you know how often you need to replace your tires or change your oil, there is no definitive limit on the amount of time a clutch can last before it needs replacing. Your driving style can have a significant impact on the lifespan of your clutch. To avoid putting yourself at risk of sudden clutch failure, learn to recognize the following signs of your clutch beginning to fail.
1. Clutch Slipping
A clutch that is nearing the end of its life will often slip when you try to accelerate uphill. When you hit the throttle, you will hear the engine revving, but the car will not go any faster. You might also notice the clutch sipping when you try to accelerate from a stationary position.
2. Juddering Clutch
If you ever notice your car vibrating when you ease your foot off the clutch pedal, it could be a sign that your clutch will soon need replacing. Clutch judder occurs when hydraulic fluid or oil on the clutch surface prevents it from fully engaging.
Clutch judder isn’t always a sign of a worn out clutch. Sometimes it simply means that the clutch is slightly misaligned, or that the flywheel is warped. If you take your car to a garage, a mechanic should be able to realign the clutch to quickly resolve the problem.
A juddering clutch can be rather dangerous when driving in heavy traffic. You might find it more difficult than usual to stop the car quickly, which could lead to a collision. Get your clutch checked out as quickly as possible.
3. Unresponsive Clutch
When you try to change gear, pay attention to how far you need to let the clutch out. If you need to let the clutch almost all the way out to make the gear catch, that is a clear symptom of a worn out clutch.
4. Difficulty Changing Gears
If you frequently end up shifting into the wrong gear or fail to get the car into any gear at all, your clutch might be wearing out. You may even notice the car shuddering or shaking as you try to force the gear stick into the right position. This problem is usually most noticeable when you try to shift between reverse gear and first.
5. Burning Smell
The longer you drive around with a worn out clutch, the more damage will occur. Excessive friction around the damaged component can cause a burning smell. Of course, clutch damage is not the only possible cause of a burning smell. Serious engine problems can also cause a bad smell. To find out what the problem is, take your car to a mechanic right away.
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