5 Symptoms of a Slipping Clutch in Your Car (Manual Transmission)

If you drive a manual transmission vehicle then you are familiar with the clutch. This is the pedal which exists to the left of the brake and gas pedals. You will only find a clutch pedal in a manual vehicle because it is required for disengaging the drive wheels and engine at certain times while driving. Normally, you need to apply some pressure to the clutch pedal for this disengagement to take place. But if you don’t even need to apply much pressure to the clutch for it to disengage the engine, then this is called a slipping clutch. It is often seen in vehicles which frequently drive in congested traffic, such as around town or on city roads. If this sounds like your normal driving conditions, then don’t be surprised if you have slippage issues with your clutch.

The Top 5 Symptoms

It is important that you notice a slipping clutch before it causes any serious problems for you or your vehicle. You wouldn’t want the engine to disengage from the drive wheels while you’re traveling at high speeds. That could potentially cause an accident. So, try to recognize the symptoms of this issue so that you can work to fix it right away.

Below are the top 5 symptoms of a slipping clutch.

High RPM – One easy way to test whether you have a slipping clutch is to take note of your engine’s RPM. If the RPM is higher than normal at a speed in which you normally drive, then you probably have a slipping clutch issue. For instance, you could be driving at one set speed for a long time without ever going over or under that speed. Meanwhile, the tachometer shows the RPM going higher than it should be.

Burning Smell – When the clutch slips, there will be a burning smell coming from the transmission area. This is due to all the excess heat generated from the constant disengagement of the engine and the slipping of the clutch. The more the clutch slips, the worse the burning smell is going to get. You don’t want to drive with this smell in the cabin because it will make you nauseous.

Weak Engine Power – The ultimate test is when you’re pulling a heavy load behind your vehicle. Normally, this would require the engine to send a lot of power to the drive wheels. But if there is a slipping clutch, the engine will not be able to deliver this power. Then you will have a weaker vehicle performance because of this lack of engine power. You can reduce the load that you’re pulling to increase the power somewhat, but it will not be a permanent fix.

Clutch Height Difference – As you drive your vehicle, you should be used to the height of the clutch pedal from the floor. When you press down on the pedal and take your foot off, the pedal should always return to the same height that it was before. If you ever notice the height start to change, whether the pedal is too high or too low, then something is definitely wrong with the clutch. In most cases, it will be due to the clutch slipping issue.

Read also: 5 Causes of Traction Control Light Coming On when Accelerating

Quick Disengagement – The biggest symptom of a slipping clutch is quick disengagement between the engine and drive wheels. When the clutch is normal, you would need to press down the pedal about 1 to 2 inches before the engine is disengaged. However, with a slipping clutch, the engine will disengage after you lightly press the clutch pedal down less than one inch. Sometimes just resting your foot on top of the pedal will be enough for the engine to disengage.

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