Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms – Everything You Need To Know

Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms – Everything You Need To Know

October 4, 2021 0 By CarGuy

Are you having trouble with the acceleration of your vehicle? The RPMs are getting high but the car just doesn’t like to move forward? Or it starts to smell terrible when you put the car in gear and you want to accelerate? That’s really unfortunate because you are probably experiencing bad clutch plate symptoms. But you shouldn’t worry because we got you covered.

Having a burned clutch once in a while is the sad part of owning a manual transmission vehicle. And it can happen when the clutch has accumulated a lot of miles on it, or it was exposed to hard shifting that caused the clutch to wear off prematurely. When these things happen, you will start to experience bad clutch symptoms and your day will be ruined.

This can especially be a big problem when you need the car and you start the engine and put it into gear and the car just doesn’t like to move. The clutch keeps slipping and you cannot move from a standstill. The only way in this situation will be to take your car on a towing truck and get it sorted at a mechanics shop. Or fix it by yourself and that is something that we are going to cover in this article.

In this article, we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to clutch plates. We will learn how the manual transmission works and what is a clutch plate. Then we will cover all of the symptoms of a bad clutch plate. Then we will cover the cost to replace the clutch plate and how you can replace it by yourself. So, let’s dive into it.

What Is Manual Transmission? – Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms

Manual transmission or better-called gearbox is the component in your vehicle that allows the transfer of torque from your engine to the wheels.

The transmission is converting the rotational energy of the crankshaft into torque. Without a transmission, the car would be undrivable. Since the transfer of energy would be uneven. If you try to transfer the energy directly from the crankshaft to the drive shaft and the wheels. The driveshaft would snap in a second. That’s why the need of installing transmissions in cars is old as cars are.

There are two types of transmissions, manuals, and automatics. And for the sake of simplicity, we are going to cover only the manual transmissions in this article, since only the manual transmissions have clutch plates.

Manual transmission is a pretty simple type of transmission because there are not a lot of moving parts as automatics have.

As the name implies in the manual transmission, you go through the gears manually. By pressing the clutch pedal, you disengage the flywheel from the clutch that allows you to shift into gear and then you release the clutch pedal to re-engage the clutch and make the car move into a higher gear.

The manual transmission is quite a lot simpler than automatic and uses a different type of fluid which is thicker and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

Another advantage of a manual transmission is the freedom of shifting. You can upshift, downshift anytime you want. It needs a lot of practice to master a manual transmission and that’s why manuals are not the transmission of choice in the US. But if you are a car guy, the manual is the perfect option for you.

What Is A Clutch? – Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms

The clutch plate is a component that is connected to the transmission. The clutch plate is the component that connects the transmission with the flywheel.

The flywheel is attached to the engine. While the clutch is attached to the transmission. The clutch is made out of special material that allows the clutch plate to grip the flywheel and rotate.

If the clutch doesn’t grip the flywheel, you will experience bad clutch plate symptoms that we are going to cover in the next chapter.

Clutches usually last somewhere between 50 to 60k miles. Then they start to go bad and develop bad clutch plate symptoms.

Here is a video that shows how the clutch works and where is located in the shifting process. Understanding the work of the clutch is essential for you to have a better idea of how the car is shifting its gears.

Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms

When the clutch plate goes bad it starts to develop some bad clutch plate symptoms. These symptoms can be mild if the clutch plate is at an early stage. As the clutch wear more and more the symptoms will become bigger and bigger. Eventually, they will reach a point where you won’t be able to drive your car. But what are the bad clutch plate symptoms? Let’s find out.

Clutch Starts Slipping – Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms

One of the first symptoms that you will notice is the clutch starts to slip. How does it slip? It simply doesn’t grab the flex plate anymore. Instead of gripping it hard, it basically starts to slip on it. And when the clutch starts to slip, there is no transmission of torque.

At the early stages, this slipping will not be that pronounced and the clutch is going to grab at some point and keep the car moving, but when you go to the next gear it can again start slipping.

This can be most pronounced under heavy load like going uphill or driving with cargo, and that is something that we are going to cover later in this article.

The important thing is that you should not ignore this symptom and you should act quickly. I’m saying this because the clutch will eventually fail and you will not be able to drive your car. You will be left stranded in the middle of nowhere and there could be nobody around to give you a lift.

That’s why when you feel that your clutch starts slipping, the important thing is to act quickly and make sure that you replace the clutch. But how you can replace the clutch? That’s what we are going to cover later after we cover the bad clutch plate symptoms.

Bad Acceleration

Another symptom that you are going to notice when you have a bad clutch is bad acceleration. Your RPM level is going to climb but the clutch will start slipping and will not going to effectively grab the flex plate, like when the clutch is new.

This slippage will result in poor acceleration. The RPM will get high but the car wouldn’t accelerate well and you might end up stranded.

That’s why when you notice how the car doesn’t like to accelerate and the RPM is high, it means that the clutch has failed and needs replacing.

You need to perform this job as soon as possible and avoid getting stranded. If you luckily succeeded in getting your car into gear and the car started moving, you should leave it in this gear and slowly limp to somewhere safe where you can either park your car. Or if you can take it to a shop nearby you will be able to replace the clutch there.

Car Doesn’t Like To Move

If your clutch has failed completely, you will not be able to move. And this is one of the worst bad clutch plate symptoms that you might come across. Why I’m saying this? I’m saying this because you will not be able to move anywhere. You will need to come out of your car and start pushing it until you reach a place where you can call roadside assistance and get your car picked up.

The only solution for this problem is to replace the clutch with a new one and you need to perform this work if you want to drive your car once again. Just make sure that you find a quality clutch kit on the market from a reputable manufacturer if you don’t want your clutch to fail soon again. Take note that not all of the clutch manufacturers make quality clutches and some of them are better than the others. Read reviews online and see which of them give you the best price to quality ratio. Then the next thing would be to find a shop where you can do this job. Also, make sure that you find a good shop that could take care of this work quickly and effectively.

Car Doesn’t Like To Go Uphill

Another of the bad clutch plate symptoms is the symptom when the car doesn’t like to go uphill. Going uphill is a true test for your clutch since the load on the chassis is much bigger compared to when the car is rolling freely on an even surface.

That’s why you can even test cars that you plan to buy like this. Try to accelerate on an uphill and you will see the true life of the clutch. If the clutch has less than 50% life in it, you will start to notice some bad clutch plate symptoms. The car would not like to accelerate and the clutch will start to slip.

This will result in the inability of moving uphill and you should know that sooner or later the clutch is going to fail completely and you should try to look for a replacement clutch for your car.

Car Has Trouble Moving When Loaded

Another of the bad clutch plate symptoms is the inability of the car to move when loaded. Similarly with the problem of the inability of the clutch to move uphill, moving on an even surface with a big load can produce similar symptoms.

These symptoms will be quite noticeable when you load the car with a few passengers. In the worst-case scenario, the clutch is going to start slipping and you will notice a nasty smell around you.

This smell is the burned clutch smell that we are going to cover a bit later. But the important thing when you have this problem is to address the issue as soon as possible and replace the clutch with a new one. You don’t want to wait for the clutch to completely fail and leave you stranded on the side of the road.

Loose Clutch Pedal

Another symptom of a bad clutch is the loose clutch pedal. When the clutch has failed, the pedal sinks in easily and when you release the pedal the clutch simply doesn’t have a grab point what it usually has when the clutch is in proper working order.

The clutch feel is simply strange and you don’t have that feeling when the clutch and the flexplate come into contact. The consequence of this is the slipping clutch. The clutch simply doesn’t work as it used to in the past and doesn’t have much material left on it.

In this case, the only solution would be replacing the clutch with a new one and also replacing the throwout bearing in the process. Since these two components are replaced at the same time because the throwout bearing can also cause a loose clutch to appear and also produce noises that we are going to cover a bit later.

Burning Smell

One of the clear symptoms, when you have a bad clutch, is the burning smell that is coming from the clutch. This smell that the clutch produces when it burns is unique because of the materials that the clutch is made of smell quite different from a burning rubber or plastic.

When the clutch starts slipping there will be smoke coming from the undercarriage of the vehicle. If you go too far and the clutch spins for a few seconds there will be clouds of smoke inside of the cabin and outside of the vehicle. And that is something you want to avoid.

When the clutch slips and smokes, it is a clear sign that the clutch needs replacing with a new one, and later in this article, we are going to explain to you how you can do this work on your car.

Noises Coming From The Transmission

When the clutch goes bad there are also noises that come from the transmission. More precisely the throwout-bearing noise. The throwout bearing is a bearing that is pushing the fork which is pushing the clutch plate. And when this bearing wears down it starts to slip the clutch and the noise along the smell starts to appear.

The solution for this problem is to replace the throwout bearing when you replace the clutch and the flex plate. And how you can perform this work, we are going to discuss later in the article. First, let’s discuss the prices for all of this work.

Cost To Replace Bad Clutch

We have covered all of the bad clutch plate symptoms. Now let’s see what is the price to replace the old worn-out clutch with a brand-new clutch. Since cost is one of the most important things that you need to know before even thinking of replacing this component on your vehicle.

The average cost for a clutch job is somewhere between $1,200 and $1,600. It is rather expensive because solely the parts cost somewhere between $600 to $800 and these parts include the clutch plate, the flexplate, throwout bearing.

Also, the labor per hour is somewhere between $50 to $100, and considering that there are a bunch of hours involved in replacing the clutch, the cost adds up.

Replacing the clutch at a front-wheel-drive car is cheaper than replacing the clutch on a rear-wheel-drive car since the car doesn’t have to be lifted in the air.

Doing this job at home is also a good idea, especially if you have a friend that has a lift at their house. And how you can perform this job, we are going to explain in the next chapter.

How To Replace Clutch DIY? – Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms

Replacing a clutch is a straightforward job but it requires some equipment. You will need to have jack stands in order to secure the car in the air to be able to remove the transmission. Also, you will need to have your regular set of wrenches in order to access the bolts that are holding the transmission on the vehicle. You will also need a new clutch set with a flex plate and a throwout bearing. So, we have covered the bad clutch plate symptoms, now how you can replace the clutch on your vehicle? Let’s find out.

Step 1

The first step is securing the vehicle in the air. This is needed if your vehicle is a rear-wheel-drive and this is the only way to access the clutch without removing the engine.

Step 2

Now it’s time to remove the driveshaft. The driveshaft has to be removed in order for the transmission to be removed from the vehicle.

Step 3

Once the driveshaft is removed, the next step will involve unbolting and removing the transmission from the vehicle. For this step, you will need to have a jack in order to support the transmission. And also, a helper that will hold the transmission while you are loosening up the bolts. This is necessary because you don’t want the transmission to fall on you or on the ground. This is a two-man job.

Step 4

After you removed the transmission from the vehicle now it’s time to install the new set of items and replace the old ones.

Step 5

After you replaced the clutch, flex plate, and throwout bearing, now it’s time to mount the transmission on the car and bolt everything back in its place. Then, you are good to go.

Conclusion – Bad Clutch Plate Symptoms

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to a bad clutch problem. We have covered the basics of what is a manual transmission and how the clutch works.

Then we have listed all of the bad clutch plate symptoms that you need to be aware of when you are having a manual transmission.

Then we have covered the costs that are concerned with solving this problem and how you can do this work using DIY methods. We strongly hope that we helped you out with your problem and you learned a thing or two about this issue.