Clutch Pressure Plate – When Should You Repair or Replace Your Clutch Pressure Plate?
“What Does The Clutch Pressure Plate Do?
The clutch pressure plate is an important part of your manual vehicle’s clutch system. It is a heavy metal plate that is controlled by springs and a lever. Its main purpose is to apply pressure to the primary clutch plate (or clutch disc), holding it against the engine flywheel. This allows energy to flow from the engine crankshaft, through the engaged clutch into the transmission / gearbox system, then through driveshafts and to the wheels.
When the driver presses down on the clutch pedal, the pressure plate stops applying pressure to the primary clutch plate which disengages (removes friction pressure) between the clutch pressure plate, the clutch plate and the engine flywheel. This interrupts the transmission of engine power, allowing the driver to easily engage and change gears.
Causes Of Pressure Plate Problems:
There are several things that can go wrong in your vehicle’s clutch system, causing your pressure plate to sustain damage:
Worn Clutch Disc
A worn clutch disc / plate can cause damage to the clutch pressure plate. Once the linings are completely worn off the clutch disc / plate the rivets or other metal parts of the clutch plate will rub directly on the pressure plate.
Broken Fingers or Spring
If one or more of the clutch pressure plate fingers that protrude out from the centre of the clutch plate are broken or bent then the clutch will not operate correctly, and maybe become difficult to engage your gears.
Also, if the clutch pressure plate spring arrangement is broken, then you may not be able to engage or disengage your clutch and gears at all.
If your car’s clutch is slipping the clutch system generates a lot of heat. Clutch damage further exposes parts such as the pressure plate to excess heat, causing them to warp or wear more quickly.
A slipping clutch can cause damage to the surface of your pressure plate. Clutch slipping can be caused by many different problems in your vehicle’s transmission system.
It is important that a certain distance remains between the pressure plate and its release bearing. If part of your clutch was installed incorrectly, then the thrust bearing may be damaging your clutch pressure plate.
Incorrectly Adjusted Clutch Cable
If the clutch cable is over tightened the clutch thrust bearing may constantly press against the clutch pressure plate, causing constant slight clutch slip and damage.
Improper Use Of Clutch
If the clutch is used improperly, it can cause damage to your clutch pressure plate. Examples of improper use include, riding the clutch too much while taking off on hills, skipping gears or using the clutch to slow down the vehicle by using engine braking.
Symptoms Of A Damaged Clutch Pressure Plate:
A damaged pressure plate will cause the clutch to slip. A slipping clutch often produces the following symptoms:
- Lack of vehicle power
- Higher RPM
- Difficulty in engaging or shifting gears
- Reduced clutch pedal resistance
- Burning smell from the clutch
- Inability to tow a trailer or difficulty driving up hills
Audible Noise When Clutch Is Released
You may hear a creaking noise when you press down the clutch pedal. This may be attributed to a problem in the plate’s release bearing or pressure plate fingers or spring arrangement.
Vibration In Your Transmission
An incorrectly balanced or loose pressure plate / flywheel can cause your clutch system to vibrate.
Difficult Clutch Engagement
Your clutch may become hard to use. This can be caused by various problems in your clutch, including a bent pressure plate, plate “fingers” hitting the flywheel or damaged pressure plate drive straps.
How Important Is A Clutch Repair?
A properly functioning clutch is vital to the smooth engagement and changing of gears in your manual vehicle. Getting your clutch repaired will also prevent further damage to other transmission components.”
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