Common Clutch Problems and Symptoms to Look Out For

If your vehicle has a manual transmission and you drive it long enough, the clutch will probably go out along the way. The clutch isn’t built to last forever. And, when it goes bad, you can’t really drive it effectively. So, it’s definitely an important part of the car’s mechanical systems. There are a couple of ways that a clutch fails. One is it fails to disengage and the other is it fails to engage fully.

In this article, we wanted to shed some light on some common clutch problems and the symptoms you should look out for when a clutch is getting ready to have problems. Reliable Import Service has ASE certified, professional import auto mechanics who can properly diagnose and repair any issues with your clutch. Don’t hesitate to call us when you have signs of a bad clutch.

What Is the Purpose of the Clutch

The clutch allows the engine to connect with the transmission. In other words, the clutch allows the power of the engine to be applied gradually when the vehicle is starting out and interrupts power to avoid gear crunching when shifting. The clutch allows us to switch between gears. The clutch comprises several parts such as the clutch disk, the friction plate, and the pressure plate to mention a few.

How Long Does a Clutch Last 

A good clutch can last between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. But, how long it lasts really depends on the make, model, and year of the vehicle, as well as the type of clutch and your driving habits. Several factors can influence the lifespan of a clutch. For example, if the car is driven in a lot of stop-and-go traffic or if the driver abruptly engages the clutch and rides the clutch when decelerating, you may find that the clutch doesn’t last as long.

Common Clutch Problems

These are some common clutch problems and the symptoms to look out for with each one.

A Slipping Clutch

When your clutch is slipping, it is engaging and disengaging but it isn’t delivering power to the wheels. As a result, the car will not move forward. A slipping clutch is due to wear and tear after years of driving. But, here are some other things can cause a clutch to slip:


- Worn disc

- Disc covered in oil

- An adjustment needs to be corrected

- Extreme heat to the components


- Burning smell when the accelerator pedal is applied

- High revelations when taking off from a stationary position

- Tachometer shows a high reading but the speed remains low

Trouble Shifting Gears

If you find that you are having trouble shifting gears, you may have a clutch that is wearing out or you may have a transmission problem. Either way, you should get the vehicle checked out promptly.


- Noises like clunking, humming, whining

- Shaking or grinding when shifting gears

- Hesitation before shifting

- Slippage in or out of gear while not shifting gears

- Check Engine light

Sticky Clutch

When your clutch gets stuck -  in other words, it goes down but doesn’t come back up - you will not be able to drive the car. Possible causes for a clutch pedal going all the way to the floor could be a failed clutch release bearing, a failed slave cylinder, a failed clutch master cylinder, or a broken clutch cable. 


The primary symptom before this happens is a soft or “spongy” feeling when you engage the clutch pedal.

Fluid Leaks

Fluid leaks are a common problem for manual transmissions. Leaks often occur in the clutch components such as the master cylinder, slave cylinder, and the hydraulic lines. You should replace fluids regularly since they are necessary to keep the internal components operating properly. 


When a cylinder develops internal issues, it affects the feel of the pedal. A leaky cylinder can cause the pedal to feel spongy. In severe cases, it can lead to a pedal that sinks to the floor and stays there when it is depressed. See “Sticky Clutch” above.

Call Us Today!

Our team of ASE certified and experienced import auto mechanics is ready to work on your manual transmission and clutch issues. If you experience any of these symptoms, you could have potential serious problems with your clutch and need to see a technician pronto. Don’t delay! Call us at (919) 324-3019.


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