The clutch is a part of the vehicle which connects two or more rotating shafts. In a manual transmission vehicle, the clutch controls the connection between the shaft coming from the engine and the shafts which turn the wheels.
Most vehicles use a friction clutch system operated either by fluid (hydraulic) or, more commonly, by a cable. When a vehicle is moving under power, the clutch system is engaged. A pressure plate bolted to the flywheel exerts constant force, by means of a diaphragm spring, on the driven plate.
A clutch plate is a simple metallic disc. The disc (plate) has two faces. Both of the faces are coated with materials like Twaron pulp (fiber) having high co-efficient or friction. Therefore, it is also called a friction plate.
Parts of the clutch
The modern clutch has four main components: the cover plate, the pressure plate, the driven plate, and the release bearing.
The cover plate is bolted to the flywheel, and the pressure plate exerts pressure on the driven plate through the diaphragm spring.
The driven plate runs on a splined shaft between the pressure plate and flywheel.
It is faced on each side with a friction material which grips the pressure plate and flywheel when fully engaged, and can slip by a controlled amount when the clutch pedal is partially depressed, allowing the drive to be taken up smoothly.
How does the clutch system work?
The clutch transmits engine power to the gearbox, and allows transmission to be interrupted while a gear is selected to move off from a stationary position, or when gears are changed while the car is moving.
When a vehicle is moving under power, the clutch is engaged. The pressure plate, bolted to the flywheel, exerts constant force.
The driven plate runs on a splined input shaft, through which the power is transmitted to the gearbox. The plate has friction linings, similar to brake linings, on both it’s faces. This allows the drive to be taken up smoothly when the clutch is engaged.
When the clutch is disengaged (pedal depressed), an arm pushes a release bearing against the centre of the diaphragm spring which releases the clamping pressure.
The outer part of the pressure plate, which has a large friction surface, then no longer clamps the driven plate to the flywheel, so the transmission of power is interrupted and gears can be changed.
When the clutch pedal is released, the thrust bearing is withdrawn and the diaphgram-spring load once again clamps the driven plate to the flywheel to resume the transmission of power.
Signs that your clutch system may be going bad
1. Noises may indicate a problem- your clutch pedal may make noise, or your transmission may make noise when the vehicle is in neutral.
2. The pedal can give a clue- it may vibrate, chatter, or pulsate, be stiff and hard to push. It can also feel loosely or fall to the floor and stay there.
3. Hard to get the vehicle into reverse- it may be a problem to get your vehicle into reverse or the 3rd gear. A stuck gear may indicate a damaged clutch plate.
4. Grinding sounds when shifting gears- this problem is also known as a dragging clutch. This happens when the friction or clutch disc remains engaged or stuck.
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