Spotting the signs of clutch trouble

Signs of clutch failure

The clutch is a vital part of any car with a manual gearbox, and is normally one of the more reliable components of a vehicle. On the whole, if there are issues developing, early signs of clutch failure are easy to spot, meaning you can take your model for repairs before the problem gets more serious. Here’s what to look for.

What does my clutch do?

When you push the clutch down, it separates the engine from the transmission so you can change gear smoothly. A car engine is working way too fast for you to change gear smoothly without this disconnect – and if you don’t put the clutch down properly, you’ll hear a grinding noise in protest. When you’ve finished, you release the clutch to reconnect the engine and transmission again.

How can I tell if there’s a problem with my clutch?

Like any other car part, clutches will wear down over time. As a clutch starts to wear out, it will either not engage properly (known as a slipping clutch), or not disengage properly. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • When you change gear, you notice the engine revving and the rev counter going up, but the car isn't speeding up as fast as it normally would
  • The clutch pedal is difficult to press down, or alternatively feels spongy or loose, or vibrates
  • You notice grinding, squeaking, rumbling, or worse, a burning smell and even smoke
  • You can’t get the car into gear at all

What are the causes of clutch failure?

How quickly the clutch wears out depends partly on how the car is driven. A clutch should last for 60,000 to 80,000 miles, even up to 100,000 miles, but it might go more quickly if:

  • you do a lot of driving around town, as you use the clutch every time you start, stop and change gear
  • you tow or carry a heavy loads frequently
  • you drive in a way that puts strain on the clutch: for example, you’ve modified your car to increase its performance, or you slip the clutch, ride it (keep it partly down) or drop it (release it suddenly) a lot

What’s the cost of a new clutch?

A new clutch on most family cars will cost £400 to £500. It should go without saying that sticking to your car’s maintenance schedule, and getting any problems checked out early, will help your clutch last as long as possible. At Carwise Group, our in-house technicians carry out repairs and car servicing at our Maidstone and Harlow used car dealerships – just pop along to see us if you’re worried and we’ll have a look at it for you.

We also sell a range of used cars of myriad makes and models – and buying from us gives you the peace of mind that comes with choosing a reputable used car dealer, as all our cars are thoroughly checked before they go on sale. We also offer a variety of car finance deals. To book a test drive, call our Kent or Essex dealerships today.