Replace Clutch Plate – Cost, Symptoms and Causes

A properly functioning clutch is indispensable in cars that run on fuel. The clutch allows you to change gears or idle your engine. Clutch plates are the heart of the clutch. Unfortunately, these will also eventually break down and the costs for a clutch plate replacement are quite high. Do you think a clutch plate is causing problems? And do you want more information about the operation, why it wears out and the symptoms of defects? Then you will find everything you need to know below, including repair costs and an alternative to expensive repairs: selling the car with a defective clutch.

What is a clutch disc? – Function

The clutch disc is the most important part of the clutch. In order to understand how a clutch disc works and what exactly it is, we must first discuss the operation of the clutch as a whole. The clutch sits between the engine and gearbox and connects the two so that the power from the engine is transferred to the wheels and your car can drive.

The name of the part is also literally its function: it takes care of the coupling and uncoupling of the gearbox with the motor (which always keeps running). For manual gearboxes, this happens when you press the clutch pedal. The gearbox is then disengaged for a moment so that you can shift gears. When you release the pedal, the motor will re-couple to the gearbox and transfer its power again. This principle is the same with vending machines, such as the DSG , but they automatically couple.

The clutch plate plays a major role in this coupling and uncoupling, because this is the part that actually couples and uncouples. It is a thin round metal disc with a lining on both sides. This lining creates a lot of friction. When your car is moving, this plate is firmly pressed against the flywheel (which is connected to the engine). When shifting, powerful springs in the clutch release the clutch plate slightly from the flywheel, thus temporarily interrupting the drive. When the shifting is over, the springs release and the plate presses firmly against the flywheel again.

How does a clutch disc break?

The full power of the engine is thus transferred to the transmission via the clutch plate. Remember that the output shaft of the motor always rotates at high speed. This speed is not always the same as the speed of rotation of the gearbox input shaft. The clutch disc must therefore absorb this difference in rotational speed. This will sometimes cause it to slip. It’s built for this, but wear and tear is inevitable over the years and miles. There is no fixed replacement period for clutch plates, but on average they last about 100,000 to 200,000 kilometers.

Clutch plate wear depends on several factors

How quickly your clutch wears depends on several factors. To begin with, you should understand that a clutch wears when it is used: when shifting. If you shift a lot, your clutch plate will wear out quickly. If you switch little, it will last longer. So people who drive a lot in the city and mainly travel short distances will experience less kilometers than people who mainly use their car on the highway.

In addition, the following factors affect the wear of clutch plates:

  • The power of the motor (a more powerful motor requires more from the clutch)
  • The weight of the car
  • Sporty driving at high speeds
  • Towing a trailer or caravan
  • The type of clutch and clutch disc it contains (a light clutch wears faster than a heavier with a larger plate)

Clutch disc worn symptoms

Recognizing a worn clutch plate is something you can easily do yourself. Indeed, there are some characteristic symptoms of a faulty clutch plate. These are the following:

  • The engine is running fast, but the car is accelerating slowly
  • Car does not go well in gear or in reverse
  • Sounds when shifting
  • Clutch pedal vibrates when shifting

Engine runs, but car accelerates slowly

When your engine is running at full power, but the power is not transferred to the wheels, chances are you are dealing with a slipping clutch. In other words: it seems as if your car does not want to move forward, despite an excellent working engine. Such a slipping clutch is a common symptom of a worn or broken clutch disc. When the lining on the surface of the plate is worn, it has less grip, which means it has less grip on the flywheel and therefore slips. The result is that the gearbox does not rotate fully with the engine, so you accelerate less quickly.

Keep in mind that this is a gradual process. In the beginning you will hardly notice this slipping, because the car accelerates only a fraction slower than normal. But as the clutch slips, the problems get worse until you notice it very clearly.

Is my clutch slipping? Do the test

To make sure it is the clutch that slips, you can do a test yourself:

  • Park the car in an empty parking lot (or at least somewhere without traffic, children playing and space to drive a bit forward).
  • Start the engine and apply the parking brake.
  • Depress the clutch pedal.
  • Shift into second gear, keep your foot on the clutch and accelerate until the engine reaches about 2,500 rpm.
  • Release the clutch pedal slowly.
  • In normal cases, your engine will now fail because the clutch plate engages in the flywheel. If this does not happen, it slips and is therefore worn out.

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