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Symptoms of a Bad Clutch

A bad clutch disc can cause several symptoms.

A bad clutch disc can cause several symptoms.

Clutch Problems

Bad clutch symptoms come in different forms—from odd sounds to poor performance and mechanical problems. The source of any of these symptoms can be hard to recognize.

Signs That Your Clutch May Be Going Bad

Problems with the clutch disc itself or its related parts can cause many symptoms.

  • Your car may function poorly: it may start out slowly even though the engine is racing. Or it may be hard to get the car into reverse or into gear at all.
  • Noises may indicate a problem: your clutch pedal may make noise, or your transmission may make noise when the car is in neutral. You may hear squealing or growling when you push the pedal or grinding sounds when you shift gears.
  • The pedal may give you a clue: it may vibrate, chatter, or pulsate, be stiff and hard to push, fall to the floor and stay there, or feel loosely connected or "spongy."

Below, I discuss all these symptoms and tests you can do yourself to diagnose them.

A Word About Your Clutch

The clutch assembly contains several components that wear down with use and others that require regular maintenance; so sooner or later can start to give you trouble. Depending on your model, the basic components may include the following:

  • The clutch disc itself
  • Release mechanism (mechanical or hydraulic)
  • Cable
  • Linkage
  • Pressure plate
  • Flywheel
  • Pilot bearing
  • Release (throw-out) bearing
  • Clutch fork

A clutch can last 50,000 to 100,000 miles (depending on make and model), but clutch service life is greatly affected by stop-and-go city driving, frequent pulling of heavy loads, and "riding the clutch" (resting your foot on the clutch pedal while moving down the road).

And when your clutch fails, it can be difficult to find the cause. But usually, paying attention to tell-tale signs like noises, clutch pedal behavior, and clutch performance will help you locate the likely source.

Using those symptoms, this guide helps you diagnose the most common clutch problems so that you can make an informed decision about your repair. Look for your question below.

A worn out clutch disc can slow you down in traffic.

A worn out clutch disc can slow you down in traffic.

1. My Car Starts Out Slowly but My Engine Races

This is known as clutch slippage. As you release the clutch pedal and accelerate, the vehicle moves slowly while the engine races, usually in high gear.

Slipping is common when a clutch disc is worn out. With the friction material almost worn away, the clutch disc has less surface with which to grip the flywheel and pressure plate, making it hard for the engine to transfer rotating power to the transmission.

Another symptom you'll notice is the clutch releasing sooner, without much pressure on the clutch pedal.

But there are other common causes for a slipping clutch, besides a worn-out disc:

  • Clutch linkage in need of adjustment
  • Clutch linkage or cable binding (cable housing filled with rust)
  • Clutch linkage bent, misaligned or damaged
  • Blocked master cylinder compensation port
  • Pressure plate weakened or warped
  • Clutch assembly contaminated with oil (because an engine or transmission oil seal is leaking)
  • Broken motor mount

Note: If you just replaced the clutch (assuming that everything was reinstalled correctly), you may need to give the new clutch time to fully seat. Usually, you need to go easy on the clutch for the first 200 miles.

Is Your Clutch Slipping? A Simple Test

To find out if your clutch is slipping, park in an area with enough space in front of you, away from traffic and people.

  • Start the engine and engage the emergency brake.
  • Depress the clutch pedal.
  • Shift into second or third gear and rev the engine to about 2500 rpm.
  • Slowly release the clutch pedal.

As the clutch engages the flywheel and pressure plate, the engine should stall. If the engine doesn't stall, then the clutch is slipping.

Watch the video below.

2. It's Hard to Get Into Reverse

Clutch problems can also prevent you from getting into or out of reverse or third gear.

A stuck gear may indicate problems with the linkage adjustment, a linkage malfunction, or a warped or damaged clutch plate.

3. I Can't Get My Transmission Into Gear

On a hydraulic system, failure to get into gear may be a sign of low fluid level, problems with the master or slave cylinder, or both. Usually, this is accompanied by a change in the way the clutch pedal feels: spongy, loose, or not catching as before.

On a mechanical system, you may be having problems with the clutch disc or pressure plate, release lever, release bearing, shift lever assembly, or control cable.

Worn synchronizers can also cause this problem.

Bad Bushing or Pilot Bearing Symptoms

A bad or failing bushing or pilot bearing may cause problems similar to those caused by other transmission or clutch problems. So make sure to check the bushing or pilot bearing if your transmission exhibits one of the following symptoms:

  • Noisy
  • Stuck in gear
  • Pops out of gear
  • Vibrates
  • Hard to shift gears
A weakened pressure plate can prevent the clutch from engaging.

A weakened pressure plate can prevent the clutch from engaging.

1. My Clutch Pedal Makes Noises

With the engine off, you can hear a noise when you depress the clutch pedal or release it, or both. Usually, the noise comes from the clutch release mechanism.

The release device can be hydraulic (as in many modern vehicles) or mechanical. The device is likely to become noisy as lubricant dries out and the mechanism wears down. A cable, rod or connection may begin to scrape, squeal, or clunk.

First, you need to locate the source of the noise with the help of an assistant.

  • With the engine off, have your assistant work the clutch pedal.
  • Open the hood and use a mechanic's stethoscope or a length of rubber hose (a vacuum hose will do) to listen closely along the release mechanism.

Your vehicle repair manual (Haynes is a good aftermarket manual) can help you locate components.

2. My Transmission Makes Noises in Neutral

If the car is noisy when the transmission is in neutral, but the noise goes away when you depress the clutch pedal, it's possible the noise is coming from a worn-out input shaft bearing.

3. I Hear Squeals or Growls When I Push the Pedal

As you begin to disengage the clutch—that is, as you start pressing the clutch pedal—you may hear a squealing or chirping noise. This usually points to problems with the release (throw-out) bearing. The release bearing can be worn out, the internal lubricant dried out, or the bearing itself damaged.

Another potential source of trouble is a crankshaft pilot bearing. A pilot bearing that is worn out or damaged can squeal or grind when the clutch pedal reaches the floor. This is because the pilot bearing leaves a gap large enough for the transmission input shaft and clutch disc to vibrate.

So you can tell whether the release bearing or the pilot bearing is the source of the noise. A bad release bearing will start squealing or chirping with a slight depression of the clutch pedal, or before it's fully depressed; a bad pilot bearing will start squealing or grinding as the pedal reaches the floor.

So check the pilot bearing carefully if the clutch release bearing seems in good condition.

4. I Hear Grinding When Shifting Gears

This problem is known as a dragging clutch. It happens when the friction or clutch disc remains engaged or stuck, so the transmission input shaft keeps spinning even when you fully depress the clutch pedal. Since the input shaft is still spinning, trying to shift gears, especially into reverse, will cause them to clash or grind.

  • This grinding may point to any number of problems: problems with the pressure plate, throw-out bearing, or release mechanism. On a mechanical release system, the cable may be broken, frozen, overstretched, or in need of adjustment (consult your vehicle repair manual). On a hydraulic-type system, grinding may indicate problems with the clutch master cylinder (low fluid, or air in the system or the internal cylinder mechanism).
  • Another possibility you want to look into is the clutch pedal assembly. The pedal may have too much free travel and will need an adjustment (consult your vehicle repair manual).
The clutch pedal also has ways of letting you know that your clutch is bad.

The clutch pedal also has ways of letting you know that your clutch is bad.

1. My Clutch Chatters When I Accelerate

This clutch problem makes the pedal vibrate or, if the problem is severe enough, makes the car jerk during acceleration. The vibration comes from the clutch disc intermittently losing its grip on the flywheel.

Possible causes of vibrating or chattering include:

  • Clutch disc lining (friction material) worn out
  • Clutch disc lining burnt or contaminated with oil
  • Clutch disc glazed
  • Clutch disc hub with worn out splines
  • Warped pressure plate or flywheel
  • Pressure plate diaphragm spring weakened or with broken fingers (bouncing)
  • Binding clutch linkage (a stuck release bearing or binding linkage may weaken or damage the diaphragm spring)
  • Pressure plate with hot spots
  • Pilot bearing worn out or damaged
  • Flywheel worn out

Note: Before you go to the trouble of dropping the transmission, make sure to check the engine and transmission motor mounts, because motor mounts can also be the source of chatter. Check the mounts for cracks, damage, or loose bolts.

Also, check that the transmission is correctly aligned with relation to the engine. The transmission clutch housing should be resting fully against the engine; otherwise, this can cause vibration and lead to damage to the clutch disc lining and torsion springs.

A Simple Clutch Chatter Test

  • Park in an area with no traffic and no people around the vehicle.
  • Engage the emergency brake.
  • Start the engine.
  • Fully depress the clutch pedal.
  • Race the engine to about 2000 rpm.
  • Slowly release the clutch pedal.

You should feel the clutch pedal vibrate as the clutch starts to engage the flywheel (engine). If you don't, the clutch disc is not the source of the vibration.

2. My Clutch Pedal Pulsates

A clutch pedal may pulsate because a rotating part is wobbling or vibrating inside the transmission. The pulsation may be caused by a warped flywheel, or by a release lever that needs adjustment or is damaged.

Note: If the pulsation or vibration started after servicing the transmission (the transmission was dropped or just separated from the engine for inspection), it is possible the transmission housing is improperly aligned with the engine.

Clutch release bearing and input shaft.

Clutch release bearing and input shaft.

3. My Clutch Pedal Is Hard to Push

A clutch pedal that's hard to push or "stiff" may point to problems with the release mechanism (or the hydraulic system, on modern vehicles). Release mechanism components to check include the cable, linkage, clutch fork, pressure plate, and throw-out bearing.

Check for a part that is in need of lubrication or worn out. Consult your vehicle repair manual for the maintenance service the system needs.

4. My Clutch Pedal Stays on the Floor

Just like a stiff pedal, a clutch pedal that stays on the floor can point to problems with the linkage or release bearing. Either component may bind.

Check that the springs in the linkage are not over-stretched. You may need to adjust the linkage. Also, check that the pedal stop is in place, and, if necessary, inspect the release bearing.

Also, If your vehicle comes with a hydraulic system, check fluid level:

  • If fluid level is correct, there could be an internal leak in the master cylinder.
  • If fluid level is low, check for a leak at the master cylinder or slave cylinder.

5. My Clutch Pedal Feels Loose

If your clutch pedal feels loose:

  • Check the release bearing or fork for damage.
  • Check for a broken cable.
  • Check for a failure of the pressure-plate diaphragm spring.

If you have a hydraulic release mechanism, check for:

  • Low fluid in the reservoir
  • Leaking hose or pipe
  • Leaking connection
  • Master cylinder, center valve seal fault
  • Master cylinder, piston primary seal leak

Consult your vehicle repair manual.

6. My Clutch Pedal Feels Spongy

A spongy clutch pedal (where the resistance fades as you press down on the pedal) usually shows up in a clutch system with a hydraulic release mechanism. Check the hydraulic system for air.

Many Different Sources of Clutch Problems

To sum up, bad clutch problems can be as varied as the parts in the clutch assembly. Problems may come from small components like bushings, pilot bearings, springs, screws, and dowels; large parts like the clutch disc, flywheel, pressure plate, or release bearing; or even problems in the drive train or chassis. The symptoms outlined here just touch on the most common problems and some potential sources. Still, this list represents a good start in your diagnostic procedure when facing problems with your clutch.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What does it mean when the rpms rev up, in all gears, and the car won't go?

Answer: Probably a problem with the transmission itself, but make sure to check the oil level. In some cases, this could mean a problem with the speed sensor.

Question: When first starting my truck in the morning, I have to push my clutch all the way to the floor. I do not have an override. After it warms up it is easy to switch into any gear without going all the way to the floorboard. The fluid reservoir is full and there are no leaks that I can see. Do I have air in the system?

Answer: This could be a problem with the seals in the clutch master cylinder. They may prevent enough pressure buildup to disengage or engage the clutch if they shrink while cold, allowing fluid to leak internally. Once they warm up, they expand and begin to work properly, and pressure normalizes. You may need to replace the master cylinder.

Question: I have a 2001 Nissan Sentra with a manual transmission and is front wheel drive. I recently found my car stripped of all 4 tires and had to replace them. After replacing the wheels my car will go into gears but will not move. It tries to inch forward and even tries to go in reverse. The gears are definitely engaging because there was power going to wheels and I could also get it to stall while in gear. What could be the problem?

Answer: Sorry to hear about your stolen tires. If the transmission seems to be working fine, and the car feels like it wants to move, the problem could be a seized brake caliper(s), damage to the CV joints or shafts.

Question: I’m going downhill on neutral at a 70mph roll and when I try to throw my car into 5th gear it’s really difficult to put into gear. Is it possible that the clutch is bad?

Answer: Going downhill in neutral is not safe. Do so in gear. You can have the clutch pedal depressed, ready to slow down to prevent gaining too much speed by letting off the clutch. It prevents brake overheat. Anyway, try shifting into 4th gear and see if it shifts. Otherwise, there possibly could be a problem with the sleeves or hubs.

Question: I've just had a new clutch, flywheel and reconditioned gearbox installed. It's a 2011 Vauxhall Movano. The truck drives worse than before. There's vibration on idle. Sometimes it won’t go into first gear, and there's a constant whining noise. What is my problem here?

Answer: It's possible the transmission or gearbox is not correctly aligned. Check the transmission and motor mounts for damage as well.

Question: I have 1993 Ford Ranger 4x4 and the clutch doesn't take until the pedal is almost all the way out. What might be the issue?

Answer: If the clutch has been catching like that since the clutch disc was installed, there might not be a problem. You may find a clutch that grabs just at a 1/4" of travel when releasing the pedal; another may catch a 1/4" from the top.

On the other hand, you may want to check your clutch pedal adjustment (see the vehicle repair manual for your particular model, if necessary). It can also be a problem with a clutch master or slave cylinder.

Also, check for a slipping clutch.

Head over to section 4, clutch slippage test.

Question: My clutch feels fine but the vehicle acts like it's in neutral no matter what gear it is in. Suggestions?

Answer: The pedal may need adjustment, or the clutch could be worn; other potential issues are the shift rail assembly or a worn or damaged gearshift lever.

Question: Once my car is warm, it is hard to push the shifter into first gear and then reverse. Are my attempts at putting my car in reverse grinding the gears?

Answer: I've known about this problem in hydraulic systems. If you have this type, try bleeding the system and see if that helps.

Question: When my car is running at high speeds, I am unable to downshift from 5th to 4th or 3rd gear. This doesn’t happen when the car is cold. If I am able to shift, it makes a grinding noise. What could be the issue?

Answer: It could be a bad synchronizer, or another internal issue. I'd recommend using synchromesh because some people have had success with it in a similar problem when there's grinding. Hope I could be more specific. Better have it properly diagnosed before committing to any major repairs.

Question: 2014 Toyota Corolla 6 speed. Electric start, no problems until I start moving. Goes into gear correctly but if I accelerate too fast or hit an rpm threshold over 2100 rpm or so, my car loses acceleration and acts as if it's in neutral until my RPMs go below the threshold and normal driving resumes. It can happen in any gear and just started recently. What could the problem be with my car's RPMs?

Answer: You may be dealing with a slipping clutch. This other post may help:

Question: My truck died, and I went to restart it, but the clutch just fell to Ground? The truck starts every time, but it is unable to go into gear. What should I do?

Answer: Check the linkage.

Question: My MG3 clutch pedal doesn't return quickly when depressed, but this only happens after the car has been driven for a few minutes. When the car is cold, the clutch is normal. It's only a problem with the pedal. There is no problem with changing the gears and no noises. What is this likely to be?

Answer: You may need to bleed the system, but it could be a problem with the master cylinder and/or slave.

Question: My clutch pedal is very soft and I'm unable to put my car into gear. What could be causing this? Master cylinder is full as well.

Answer: There could be air in the system or the master cylinder may have an internal leak.

Question: I have a 2009 Jetta. When the clutch pedal is all the way to the floor it makes a noise. When released just an inch or two it does not make a noise. Everything else seems fine. What could cause it?

Answer: Probably the release bearing is going bad. If you depress the pedal all the way to the floor, shifting to Neutral, you can hear it, most likely is the release bearing.

Question: My clutch is making a grinding, squealing noise if I let off the gas too fast while driving. What could be the problem?

Answer: This sounds similar to an issue with a rear differential. It can be confused with a bad clutch. If your vehicle has a bad clutch, check that; perhaps it's a bad pinion bearing.

Question: I heard a pop when I pressed the clutch pedal down and since then the pedal has been spongy but it’s still functioning properly. it doesn’t slip or grind when going into gear, and the slave cylinder and master cylinder are functioning properly before I pull the transmission. Do you have an idea of what it might be?

Answer: It sounds like one of the cylinders in the master cylinder might have problems. Check first the assembly between the pedal and the master cylinder, and take a close look at the master cylinder.

Question: When I’m coasting at lower speeds, then touch my accelerator, my truck sometimes jerks. Almost like something is grabbing it, then letting go. I slow down with the brakes and it typically goes away. What would cause my truck to jerk like this?

Answer: This could be due to an ignition or fuel system in need of maintenance. Check spark plugs and wires; check for clogging fuel injectors or an issue in the fuel system.

Question: I just replaced the pre-bled clutch master and slave cylinder assembly in my car. Why will the clutch still not engage?

Answer: This usually happens when one of the lines clogs, causing some residual pressure to remain on the release bearing and this in contact with the pressure plate. You may also want to check the pedal and release assembly for binding or need of adjustment.

Question: I have a 2013 Dodge Dart. I can shift into all gears without the clutch but the vehicle doesn't move, no grinding noise at all. Is this symptomatic of a bad clutch?

Answer: You probably have a worn out clutch; it seems to be slipping.

Question: I can't drive up a steep hill. Can this be a cause of a worn out clutch?

Answer: It is possible but you can also have a clogged fuel filter, partially clogged fuel injectors, bad ignition system components (coils, spark plugs, spark plug wires), clogged cat converter.

If your engine has high mileage, compression could be low.

Question: Upon Shifting gears, my car is so jerky. Is something wrong, or do I just not know drive to drive it yet? It’s a new used car, and I do know how to drive a clutch.

Answer: If you know the car was running good, you probably need to learn how to work the clutch. There're some youtube videos that can help you here:

Question: My car only shifts gears when it's switched off. When I switch it on, it doesn't shift at all. What could cause my car to be able to shift only when it's off?

Answer: Usually, bad synchronizers will give you hard shifting. If this happens only after starting the engine, the clutch could be responsible.

Question: I Have a 1984 Datsun Sentra. When the car is off, the shifting and clutch pedal is okay. But when I turn the car on, it’s hard to get into 1st and grinds when I put it in reverse. Also, when I’m driving, it runs smoothly, but when I’m in neutral is hard to put it into first gear. What do you think could be the problem?

Answer: There could be several possibilities here. Check the engine and motor mounts. Sometimes a cracked or broken mount can affect first and reverse gears. The master cylinder can be worn; or air between the clutch master and slave cylinders.

Question: I was driving last week and as I took a turn I heard a banging noise and afterward the car didn't want to drive further, even though I can still easily change gears. I am driving a 2012 Chevy Aveo 1.6 manual transmission. What do you think the problem could be?

Answer: Check the fluid level, make sure there’s enough. But probably the shifter or linkage isn’t connected, may be that’s the bang that you heard. See if you can check from inside; remove the shift boot. You’ll probably need to check the shifter assembly. If isn't accessible from inside, you’ll need to lift the vehicle.

Question: When I push my clutch pedal down my car runs different and it can’t get into gear, what could be the problem?

Answer: It's possible the clutch needs adjustment or the clutch assembly is too worn.

Question: My clutch stuck to the floor, but I managed to get it home. I called green flag and they suspected a master cylinder fault, so we changed it. However, it struggles to get into 1st or reverse when the engine is warm. If I hold the clutch for more then seven seconds the clutch stays on the floor! If the engine is off, the gears shift find and the pedal kicks back up. It’s fine in 2-6. We bled the clutch and brakes after the cylinder change. Do you have any idea what it may be?

Answer: Hard shifting into first and reverse is “common” in some transmission, but this may also happen when the transmission motor mounts allow the transmission to shift position concerning the engine. They are not properly aligned. So check the mounts and transmission alignment.

Also, there are usually four items that may prevent a clutch pedal form springing back to position:

a bad master cylinder, problems with the slave cylinder, broken clutch linkage, and a failed clutch release bearing.

Question: Is it possible my clutch is wearing out when sometimes, right after I shift and start to accelerate, the vehicle jerks or lurches slightly?

Answer: It is possible, but a worn flywheel, pilot bearing or pressure plate issues can cause this problem. Also, if there’s a vacuum leak, you can sometimes feel the same symptom.

Question: Why did the clutch pedal of my 2007 Mazda6 sink to the floor and never come back up?

Answer: There could be several reasons for this like air in the lines, clutch release bearing issues, or a bad slave cylinder. Check the fluids first.

Question: I have a 2009 Honda Accord. The manual transmission was replaced with a reconditioned one, but it is unable to go into gear when idling. What should I do?

Answer: The problem could be in the hydraulic system. Check that there’s enough fluid, also.

Question: My Pajero Sport was jumping and vibrating as I came to a red light. I haven't been able to get into gear while the engines running since. I can move off if I start in 1st but not while in neutral while running. I checked the slave cylinder and it's working properly. Would this indicate the plate is gone?

Answer: Check the transmission mounts. A bad, loose or cracked mount can cause the transmission to vibrate and prevent engaging into gear. Also, take a look at the shift linkage.

Question: There is an airy sound when driving and, as soon as the clutch is in, it stops. And I ask, why?

Answer: It seems like the sound of a worn out clutch release bearing. But get a diagnostic from an experienced shop before making any repair decisions. Make sure the noise is coming from the transmission.

Question: My clutch is spongy and my car wont start, could these issues be related?

Answer: It's possible. You may need to purge the hydraulic system, it this it the type of system you got. Check for clutch adjustment and the master cylinder, if necessary, depending on your application. Also, a no starting issue with the clutch is the neutral safety switch. This wouldn't cause the pedal to feel spongy but would prevent you from starting the engine.

Question: While I hold down my clutch pedal to the floor and the car is in gear, after about 10 seconds the clutch wants to engage. If it’s quick, I have no problems. What would make that happen?

Answer: It's possible that there's something wrong with the springs.

Question: When shifting into 4th (and sometimes 3rd) there is bad grinding and the clutch does not engage. I can still use R, 1,2,5 & 6 with no issues. I still have power train warranty but afraid dealer may say it is clutch which is not covered (only 1yr 12K). Thoughts?

Answer: The grinding noise usually comes from a gear-set that remains partially engaged and another set trying to turn the output shaft. This may happen because of a clutch in need of adjustment or a clutch or gearshift linkage binding.

However, since you are having problems with 4th gear and sometimes 3rd, I’d be suspicious of a worn or bad blocking ring in the synchronizer. Both of these gears share the same synchro.

Another remote possibility, if you replaced the transmission oil, you may have used the wrong type.

Question: I have a 2005 Toyota Corolla. The clutch squeaks when releasing the clutch while going into gear, mainly going into 1st, 3rd and 5th. It won’t squeak though if I shift at higher RPM’s and release the clutch slowly. Is this squeaky clutch a must fix now? Can my clutch do damage to the transmission if I don’t fix it and be more costly down the line?

Answer: It seems like the pilot bushing is wearing out. It's better to get a good diagnostic. If the bushing fails, it may eventually fail to release the clutch, cause vibration and probably failure of the transmission.

Question: What should you do if your truck motor is racing like you are on the gas but you're not and the clutch is engaged?

Answer: Check first the idle air control motor (IAC); check operation (direct battery voltage) or with a multimeter. A common issue is carbon buildup inside the solenoid and passages.

Question: When starting driving, the clutch pedal is fully depressed but it is very difficult to engage 1st gear. What clutch fault makes it hard to engage first gear?

Answer: Check the linkage first. If the problem appeared gradually, this could be a wearing or damage issue. For example, gearshift lever, shift rail, synchronizer sleeves or hubs.

Question: The reverse in my car is sometimes hard to get in, but in any gear when I accelerate or decelerate it makes this grinding noise. What could this be?

Answer: Make sure first the transmission has enough lubricant. This can be a linkage or cable binding problem. If the transmission has been abused, or you have an old model, the gearshift components or synchronizers may be worn.

Question: There’s a grinding noise upon starting, though the clutch/gears work OK. But the car runs like it's in 4WD even in 2WD mode. What could be the problem with my car's clutch?

Answer: There could be a problem with the shift motor. Try hitting the motor with a hammer. This may correct the problem for a while. If it does, you may need to replace it.

Question: I have a 93 F350. Backing my camper up a slight hill or taking off on a slight hill makes the engine want to stall as if it doesn’t have enough power to do so. What could be the problem?

Answer: Check the ignition, make sure you have good spark - also, the cat could be clogged.

Question: How can I tell what caused the heat spots around the clutch? I don’t think it was driver style.

Answer: Other than driver style, the most common causes are a binding linkage, oil or grease contamination, or bad clutch adjustment.

Question: When I accelerate, I feel a kick-out movement in front under my truck. Is my transmission bad? My mounts also feel bad even though they were replaced.

Answer: It's possible, but a common source of such problems are the U-joints and wheel bearing, or low or contaminated transmission fluid. Check these first before blaming the transmission.

Question: My car is losing power and the gears seem to be misaligned, what could be the problem?

Answer: Make sure there's enough oil, otherwise the linkage may need adjustment or the clutch could be worn.

Question: I had a new clutch kit fitted and slave cylinder. Now I heard a noise setting off uphill. What could be the problem?

Answer: If the noise is in the transmission area, and assuming a proper installation, there could be a problem with the clutch release and input bearings, pilot bearing or bushing.

Question: Can the input shaft bearing sound like a single pebble bouncing up against the metal walls? I know a bad CAT has the sound of multiple pebbles bouncing around because the CAT is clogged.

Answer: A bad input shaft bearing usually makes a rough, growling noise. You'll be able to hear it in neutral with the engine running.

Question: I have a ‘07 VW Jetta, and the only gear I have is reverse. And that's only when I manually engage under the hood, while the car is running. Clutch pedal seems fine, but I can't get or find any other gear. I had issues with the linkage before and was adjusting it myself. But over time, slowly lost gears. Now I have none. Also, the check engine light came on after smelling a burning clutch really bad. And then after that totally lost gears. What could this be?

Answer: Probably the release bearing was too close or touching the pressure plate release lever when the clutch was engaged. This is usually due to a maladjusted clutch linkage. Lack of clearance accelerates clutch plate, pressure plate and release bearing plate.

Question: I shift into second and hear a clunking noise, buts it’s only when I go from 1st to 2nd gear. Can anyone help?

Answer: Check the transmission and motor mounts. Sometimes a cracked or loose mount will cause the transmission to make a clunking noise. Also, it's possible the 2nd gear synchronizer ring is bad. You may try changing the fluid. If you see a lot of golden metal dust, that's probably coming from the syncro.

Question: When I slip my clutch under load, it makes a loud whirring noise until it's fully engaged. When I'm slowly releasing the clutch, it doesn't make a sound. Is it my pilot bearing?

Answer: It seems like there's a problem with the release bearing.

Question: My 2005 Cobalt SS runs and idles but when I try to put it in first it won't go anywhere. All the other gears seem to work fine with or without the use of the clutch. There are no grinding noises. What's going on?

Answer: Try, carefully, pushing the car in neutral. If it won't move, then the issue is with the brakes. If it moves, lift the front wheels and see if they spin. If they don't, then there's a problem with the transmission. It could be locked up.

Question: I have a 2007 Mazda 6 6MT. Lately, I started to feel the clutch pedal vibrating with high frequency during operation, and leaving a "tingling" sensation in my left foot after some time of driving in urban areas. I have had the same thing in my E46 320i before. It is not normal, as I do not feel it in other cars I have driven. The clutch seems to engage/disengage quite normally. What could be the cause?

Answer: Misalignment usually causes this type of problem. Check first the bell housing; then you'll have to inspect the flywheel. Other potential problems could be the clutch disc and pressure plate, or problem with the release levers as well.

© 2017 Dan Ferrell