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There are five types of clutch problems- slipping, grabbing, dragging, abnormal noises, and vibration. It is important to know the symptoms produced by these problems and the parts that might be the cause.
Slipping occurs when the driven disc fails to rotate at the same speed as the driving members when the clutch is fully engaged. This condition results whenever the clutch pressure plate fails to hold the disc tight against the face of the flywheel. If clutch slippage is severe, the engine speed will rise rapidly on acceleration, while the vehicle gradually increases in speed. Slight but continuous slippage may go unnoticed until the clutch facings are ruined by excessive temperature caused by friction.
Normal wear of the clutch lining causes the free travel of the clutch linkage to decrease, creating the need for adjustment. Improper clutch adjustment can cause slippage by keeping the release bearing in contact with the pressure plate in the released position. Even with your foot off the pedal, the release mechanism will act on the clutch fork and release bearing.
Some clutch linkages are designed to allow only enough adjustment to compensate for the lining to wear close to the rivet heads. This prevents damage to the flywheel and pressure plate by the rivets wearing grooves in their smooth surfaces.
Other linkages will allow for adjustment after the disc is worn out. When in doubt whether the disc is worn excessively, remove the inspection cover on the clutch housing and visually inspect the disc.
Binding linkage prevents the pressure plate from exerting its full pressure against the disc, allowing it to slip. Inspect the release mechanism for rusted, bent, misaligned, sticking, or damaged components. Wiggle the release fork to check for free play. These problems result in slippage.
A broken motor mount (engine mount) can cause clutch slippage by allowing the engine to move, binding the clutch linkage. Under load, the engine can lift up in the engine compartment, shifting the clutch linkage and pushing on the release fork.
Grease and oil on the disc will also cause slippage. When this occurs, locate and stop any leakage, thoroughly clean the clutch components, and replace the clutch disc. This is the only remedy.
If clutch slippage is NOT caused by a problem with the clutch release mechanism, then the trouble is normally inside the clutch. You have to remove the transmission and clutch components for further inspection. Internal clutch problems, such as weak springs and bent or improperly adjusted release levers, will prevent the pressure plate from applying even pressure. This condition allows the disc to slip.
To test the clutch for slippage, set the emergency brake and start the engine. Place the transmission or transaxle in high gear. Then try to drive the vehicle forward by slowly releasing the clutch pedal. A clutch in good condition should lock up and immediately kill the engine. A badly slipping clutch may allow the engine to run, even with the clutch pedal fully released. Partial clutch slippage could let the engine run momentarily before stalling.
Never let a clutch slip for more than a second or two. The extreme heat generated by slippage will damage the flywheel and pressure plate faces.
A grabbing or chattering clutch will produce a very severe vibration or jerking motion when the vehicle is accelerated from a standstill. Even when the operator slowly releases the clutch pedal, it will seem like the clutch pedal is being pumped rapidly up and down. A loud bang or chattering may be heard, as the vehicle body vibrates.
Clutch grabbing and chatter is caused by problems with components inside the clutch housing (friction disc, flywheel, or pressure plate). Other reasons for a grabbing clutch could be due to oil or grease on the disc facings, glazing, or loose disc facings. Broken parts in the clutch, such as broken disc facings, broken facing springs, or a broken pressure plate, will also cause grabbing.
There are several things outside of the clutch that will cause a clutch to grab or chatter when it is being engaged. Loose spring shackles or U-bolts, loose transmission mounts, and worn engine mounts are among the items to be checked. If the clutch linkage binds, it may release suddenly to throw the clutch into quick engagement, resulting in a heavy jerk. However, if all these items are checked and found to be in good condition, the trouble is inside the clutch itself and will have to be removed for repair.
A dragging clutch will make the transmission or transaxle grind when trying to engage or shift gears. This condition results when the clutch disc does not completely disengage from the flywheel or pressure plate when the clutch pedal is depressed. As a result, the clutch disc tends to continue turning with the engine and attempts to drive the transmission.
The most common cause of a dragging clutch is too much clutch pedal free travel. With excessive free travel, the pressure plate will not fully release when the clutch pedal is pushed to the floor. Always check the clutch adjustments first. If adjustment of the linkage does not correct the trouble, the problem is in the clutch, which must be removed for repair.
On the inside of the clutch housing, you will generally find a warped disc or pressure plate, oil or grease on the friction surface, rusted or damaged transmission input shaft, or improper adjustment of the pressure plate release levers causing the problem.
Faulty clutch parts can make various noises. When an operator reports that a clutch is making noise, find out when the noise is heard. Does the sound occur when the pedal is moved, when in neutral, when in gear, or when the pedal is held to the floor? This will assist you in determining which parts are producing these noises.
An operator reports hearing a scraping, clunking, or squeaking sound when the clutch pedal is moved up or down. This is a good sign of a worn or unlubricated clutch release mechanism. With the engine off, pump the pedal and listen for the sound. Once the source of the sound is located, you should clean, lubricate, or replace the parts as required.
Sounds produced from the clutch, when the clutch is initially ENGAGED, are generally due to friction disc problems, such as a worn clutch disc facing, which causes a metal-to-metal grinding sound. A rattling or a knocking sound may be produced by weak or broken clutch disc torsion springs. These sounds indicate problems that require the removal of the transmission and clutch assembly for repair.
If clutch noises are noticeable when the clutch is DISENGAGED, the trouble is most likely the clutch release bearing. The bearing is probably either worn, binding, or, in some cases, loses its lubricant. Most clutch release bearings are factory lubricated; however, on some larger trucks and construction equipment, the bearing requires periodic lubrication. A worn pilot bearing may also produce noises when the clutch is disengaged. The worn pilot bearing can let the transmission input shaft and clutch disc vibrate up and down, causing an unusual noise.
Sounds heard in NEUTRAL, that disappear when the clutch pedal is pushed, are caused by problems inside the transmission. Many of these sounds are due to worn bearings. However, always refer to the troubleshooting chart in the manufacturer's manual.
A pulsating clutch pedal is caused by the runout (wobble or vibration) of one of the rotating members of the clutch assembly. A series of slight movements can be felt on the clutch pedal. These pulsations are noticeable when light foot pressure is applied. This is an indication of trouble that could result in serious damage if not corrected immediately. There are several conditions that can cause these pulsations. One possible cause is misalignment of the transmission and engine.
If the transmission and engine are not in line, detach the transmission and remove the clutch assembly. Check the clutch housing alignment with the engine and crankshaft. At the same time, the flywheel can be checked for runout, since a bent flywheel or crankshaft flange will produce clutch pedal pulsation. If the flywheel does not seat on the crankshaft flange, remove the flywheel. After cleaning the crankshaft flange and flywheel, replace the flywheel, making sure a positive seat is obtained between the flywheel and the flange. If the flange is bent, the crankshaft must be replaced.
Other causes of clutch pedal pulsation include bent or maladjusted pressure plate release levers, warped pressure plate, or warped clutch disc. If either the clutch disc or pressure plate is warped, they must be replaced.