Why Does my Clutch Make a Noise?
One thing that may disturb a driver is strange noises, such as squealing or squeaking, coming from the vehicle when the engine turns on. The clutch pedal is an integral part of a manual car as it controls the shift between gears. If a noise comes from this part of the car control system, you may be in trouble. Even if it is not an immediate problem, clutch pedal noise can mean drastic issues down the road. Replacing the clutch can be difficult and expensive, so it is best to work out why does your clutch make noise before you have a hefty mechanic's bill on your hands. oneHOWTO explains the possible reasons why your clutch is making noise to diagnose the problem.
My clutch pedal makes a noise: Is that normal?
A clutch pedal should not emit any sound, so you should always be wary if you notice the clutch squeaking or growling when you push it or lift it. You may find that the noise is present when you turn the engine on, but stops when you put pressure on the clutch. If it persists when putting pressure on the clutch pedal, this is equally bad. The clutch in your car shouldn't make any noise other than the general engine sounds when you change gears. This includes the change in revs.
If there is a problem with the clutch, you should determine whether the sound is coming from the clutch pedal itself or elsewhere. If the problem is the clutch pedal, it is possible it is old or damaged and this leads to it making noises. If the sound comes from somewhere in the center part of the vehicle, it is likely another part of the clutch system. The main parts of the clutch system are:
- Clutch pedal
- Crank shaft
- Clutch disc
- Pressure plate
- Throwout bearing (on non-hydraulic clutches)
- Clutch fork
If there is a problem with the clutch, then it could be an issue with any of these parts. Knowing which contains the problem is tricky, even for professionals to determine.
Before moving on to explain the possible reasons why this is happening, we recommended that the first thing you do is take the car to a garage to have a professional mechanic fix the possible fault. If you want to avoid clutch problems in the future, make sure you know when you should change the clutch in your car.
Is the shaft of the clutch pedal worn?
The clutch pedal is linked to the clutch system. This system changes the gears of your car with a serious of flywheels, plates (or discs) and bearings. When you press down on the clutch it engages the transmission to switch between gears. This process happens at higher speeds the further up the gears you go.
With the engine working this hard and going at high speeds, it is understandable that a certain amount of wear and tear will occur. However, if you change gears too sharply, at too high or low revs or if you put the car into the wrong gear, then this wear and tear will be increased.
The reason why your clutch makes a noise can probably be clarified if you pay attention to the exact moment when the car makes the noise. If it doesn't happen when you step on the pedal, but when you have changed gear and lifted the pedal, it's quite likely the shaft is too worn. Unfortunately this means you will have to replace it. Another sign there is a problem with the bearing is the smell of rotten eggs. This smell is caused by the worn bearings heating up. There are other reasons you might have this smell, such as the engine overheating.
If your car is new, it is unlikely that the shaft piece will be worn. Some resources claim that a new car might have a clutch which needs time to settle. When you buy a new car it should be tested and make no noise from the clutch. Even a replacement clutch shouldn't make a noise. If it does, then the cause of the noise when releasing the clutch can be a poor fit of the clutch pedal, which can come from two sources:
- The disc and the flywheel are not well aligned.
- The pedal setting is not adequate, making the disc slip.
If you have just been to the garage for a fix of the clutch pedal or other clutch part, then it is possible they have not done a good enough job. A good mechanic should have guarantee their work. Especially if you have paid a lot to fix squeaking or other pedal noises, they should either be able to explain the noise or do more work.
Is the bearing worn?
If the clutch makes a noise when you step on the pedal but not upon release, the cause can be that the bearing is starting to wear. In that case, the mysterious sound will be squeaky and high-pitched, a bit like an old door. This is due to the throw out bearing. This is the bearing which moves the flywheel when you depress the pedal. It is constantly moving in and out, so listen to the pedal as you depress it.
If this is the case, you might have to go to your regular mechanic who will replace the part. For more information, take a look at our article on how to check car bearings.
You can change bearings (or specifically the bushing bearings) yourself. Even if you have experience working on car engines, you will likely need to have the specific car manual at hand.
Is there a problem with the transmission control?
If the strange sound in the clutch occurs just as you start to step on the pedal, chances are that the transmission control is incorrectly set. In this case, simply install the transmission control correctly so that the noise disappears; take your car to a garage if you don't know how to fix it yourself. In this case, the sound will sound like a growl.
If you want to know a little more about motorcycle mechanics, you can see how to diagnose motorbike clutch problems as well as manual transmission cars.
Is there a problem with the bellhousing?
The bellhousing is so-called because it is used to cover (house) the clutch system and it is in the shape of a bell. While the bellhousing isn't an active part of the clutch system itself, it is still vital. This is because it acts as a dust cover or protector for all the other pieces. If the bellhousing is damaged, loose or cracked then it compromises the protection afforded the other parts. It also helps to hold the other parts of clutch in place. Once the bellhousing is broken, it means the other parts are less protected and, therefore, more vulnerable to breaking.
Since the bellhousing is on the outside, you can troubleshoot this clutch problem fairly easily. Take a look at the cover and see if there is any damage. This could be a physical blow or weathering from its environment. You will need to take the bellhousing off to see other parts of the clutch system, so if this is the problem, you should see it first.
You will need to replace the bellhousing, but if its damage has lead to further damage, you will still have to look at the other parts. This is tricky and best done by a mechanic who knows each part well.
Problem with the pressure plate
The clutch pressure plate works in a similar way to the brake pads of a car, although it is essentially the opposite. The pressure plate keeps pressure on the clutch disc to hold it against the engine flywheel. This is done so with the use of springs and a lever. With a braking system, pushing the brake pedal applies pressure to the brake pads. With the clutch, the opposite happens where the clutch pedal removes the pressure and allows the gears to be changed. When the foot is taken off the clutch pedal, then the pressure is reapplied by the pressure plate.
If there is a problem with the pressure plate, such as a broken spring or general wear and tear, then the clutch is likely to slip. Replacing the broken springs or the entire clutch plate will be required. Knowing the difference is difficult, so you may need to ask someone who is able to differentiate to help.
Of course, if your clutch makes a noise, it may just be that it needs some lubrication. Remember that when you use a manual transmission car, this is the pedal that gets worked the most. In that case, the pedal will eventually start to sound creaky or squeaky. Try greasing the spring that is linked to the clutch pedal with lithium grease.
We recommend that whenever you have car trouble you check if you can still get the repairs sorted as part of the car's warranty. This way, you'll avoid having to spend oftentimes large amounts of money. At oneHOWTO we give you some tips so you know when to replace the clutch and so keep your car is in perfect condition for use.
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