Clutch Problems: Warning Signs & Solutions

If you’ve ever had problems with your clutch, you know how hard it is to get from one place to another.

It’s a trade-off between automatics and manuals. Although automatic transmission vehicles are easy to drive, they don’t have the same durability as your typical manual transmission vehicle. With fewer parts to damage, a manual transmission vehicle can last thousands of miles more, provided it receives regular maintenance. However, manual transmissions have a significant weak point: the clutch.

The clutch acts as the connection between the engine and the wheels. This part of your car transfers power to turn the tires on the road. It’s important because the engine is constantly turning, but you don’t always want the wheels to turn – like when you’re at a traffic light or warming your car in the driveway.

Your clutch is made of a clutch plate and a flywheel. When you’re not touching the clutch pedal, springs press against the clutch plate. This pressure is also applied to the flywheel, connecting the engine to the wheels.

You shouldn’t have to deal with clutch problems on a regular basis. If you believe your car may have been sold to you with a defect, reach out to us at 833.422.7529 for a free consultation and we will investigate the problem.

Common Clutch Problems and Warning Signs

Clutch issues can stem from a variety of sources, but they all have the same outcome: you have trouble shifting and moving.

Lack of Friction

Friction is crucial for the clutch’s operation. If there’s no friction, the clutch doesn’t “bite,” and shifting becomes much more difficult. However, as the clutch loses friction, slipping occurs.


Clutches are designed to “slip” so the vehicle doesn’t jerk when the vehicle starts moving, or later when you shift through gears. After you let up on the clutch pedal, the clutch should provide a solid connection between the engine and transmission. When this doesn’t happen, too much “slipping” occurs.

You’ll likely notice slipping the most when driving up hills, towing a trailer, or passing another vehicle. In some cases, your engine will race, but your vehicle struggles to pick up speed.

Slipping creates a downward spiral that leads to even more slippage. Since it increases friction and heat, the clutch loses its ability to grip – which leads to even more slippage. As it gets hotter and slips more, the flywheel and pressure plate take more abuse.


If a clutch doesn’t release properly, it will “stick,” turning the input shaft without stopping. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • a broken or stretched clutch cable
  • leaky or defective master clutch cylinders
  • air in the hydraulic line
  • misadjusted linkage
  • mismatched clutch components

Hard Clutch

Though all clutch pedals require some sort of downward pressure, a worn clutch may require you to place extra force upon the pedal. This is often caused by an issue with a cable, cross shaft, pivot ball, or the hydraulic system.

Worn Out Bearings

Your bearings are responsible for telling the pressure plate to release the clutch. If they’re worn, you won’t feel the same sort of responsiveness you’re used to.

Diagnosing a Bad Clutch

Although your dealer can diagnose a clutch problem, your ears can help you determine the primary malfunction before driving to the dealership. Here’s how:

  1. Start your car, put it in neutral, and set the parking brake.
  2. Begin to push on the clutch. If you hear a chirping noise, it may be the clutch release or the throw-out bearing.
  3. If you don’t hear anything, push the clutch all the way down. If you hear squealing, you may have an issue with the pilot bearing or bushing. If you hear any sort of growling without pressing on the clutch, you likely have an issue with the transmission.

This test isn’t designed for a thorough diagnosis, and it won’t pinpoint all of your problems. However, it may make you an informed consumer, which could help you when you go to your dealer.

Seek Legal Assistance for Your Check Engine Issues

If you experience clutch issues frequently, you may have been sold a lemon. Robison Lemon Law Group can help you navigate both the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and lemon laws to ensure you receive the justice you deserve.

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