If you are driving a car, pick-up or SUV with a manual transmission, clutch repair service is something you might need in the near future. The more you know about symptoms of clutch problems and their causes, the more likely you are to get a quality repair for a fair price when the time comes.
When a clutch repair shop uses the term “clutch” they are referring to a system of components that allows the driver of a manual transmission vehicle to change transmission gears when desired. By comparison, an automatic transmission shifts gears when it is programmed by the manufacturer to do so. When a manual transmission has a problem shifting, it may tell you with a chattering noise, shuddering sensation, or by being difficult to shift. In these instances, the problem could be caused by one or more clutch system components.
Clutch System Components
In some cases, a clutch component can be repaired or replaced without removing the transmission. Examples are:
- Master cylinder
- Slave cylinder
- Hydraulic hoses
- Shift linkage
- Shift cable
- Pressure plate
- Throw out bearing
- Pilot bearing
Clutch Failure Symptoms
A clutch that is used correctly will normally last 50,000 to 100,000 miles before needing repair or replacement. If the clutch is used incorrectly or abused, it could fail within 30,000 miles or less. A driver can damage a clutch by:
- Driving with a foot slightly resting on the clutch pedal
- Letting the clutch pedal out too slowly – slipping the clutch
- Repetitive use in a short time interval – as when getting un-stuck from a mud or snow pack
- Carrying too much weight for the vehicle and slipping the clutch
Clutches are very susceptible to damage by the excess heat created during “slipping” conditions. Heat reduces friction, which can cause more heat, which reduces friction more. This is a “snow ball” effect that can quickly destroy a clutch.
You may be in need of a clutch repair service if you are experiencing one of the following symptoms:
- Clutch chatter or shudder while letting the clutch out
- Clutch pedal does not return up when released
- Clutch falls to the floor or is too easy to push
- Clutch pedal is hard to push
- Transmission is hard to shift into gear or makes a grinding noise during shifts
- Slippage in the clutch on acceleration
Problems with internal clutch parts like the disc and pressure plate usually are the cause of hard shifting, shudder/chatter, or slippage. The fix is to replace these parts.
Problems with external clutch parts like master cylinders and slave cylinders usually cause clutch pedal symptoms like weak or non-returning pedals. They can also contribute to hard shifting and grinding noises during shifts.
Most cars made today have shift cables rather than linkage found in many older vehicles. These cables can wear out or slip out of adjustment causing hard shifting or grinding. Pick-up trucks usually have the shift lever mounted inside the transmission. In these cases, the shift linkage is internal and can only be repaired with the transmission removed.
Probably the most common clutch symptom is slippage on acceleration. This happens when the clutch is being let out and the gas pedal is being depressed and is usually described by the driver as a lack of power. The driver may also notice the dash tachometer indicates an engine RPM that increases rapidly, but the vehicle speed is not increasing like it normally would.
Clutch Replacement Parts and Costs
At Wayne’s Transmissions, we road test your vehicle to verify the symptoms you describe. During our analysis of the clutch system, if necessary, we raise the vehicle to do a thorough inspection of the drive axles, driveshaft, and all other clutch or drivetrain related components. Then we put together an estimate that will include all failed or failing parts we could identify, along with labor cost needed to complete the clutch repair service.
Sometimes we don’t know the complete list of parts needed until we have the clutch out of the vehicle and disassembled. For example, the condition of the flywheel can’t be verified until we can see it. A clutch that is slipping can seriously damage a flywheel, which means it will need to be turned or machined, a process that is normally included on many initial quotes.
When inspection shows a flywheel has extensive damage that cannot be corrected by machining, it will need to be replaced. This is also true for special types of flywheels that can’t be machined and are always replaced. These situation ends up increasing the cost of the job by as much as one third to one half the original cost of the clutch estimate in some cases.
Any clutch repair at Wayne’s will include machining or replacement of the flywheel. It will also include replacing these parts found in most clutch kits:
- Pressure plate
- Throw out bearing
- Pilot bearing
If any repair shop gives you an estimate that does not include these items you should immediately be concerned about whether you will be getting a quality clutch repair service.
Frequently, a major cost component of a clutch replacement is the labor cost to remove the transmission for access to the clutch. Four wheel drive pick-up trucks and SUV’s typically require the most labor hours for transmission removal because they have a transfer case that must also be removed.
Additional expenses beyond the parts kit and flywheel related costs might include a clutch master cylinder, slave cylinder, hydraulic clutch hoses, or rear main seal. The transmission is bolted to the back of the engine and receives its power from the engines crankshaft. This shaft has an oil seal to keep engine oil from leaking out. If oil leaks from this seal it could get on the clutch and cause it to slip. A quality clutch repair service always includes inspecting the rear main seal to see if it needs to be replaced.
Master cylinders and slave cylinders are inspected for external leakage. These can be worn internally and the only way to detect a problem is by experiencing the symptoms listed above. If your vehicles clutch has lasted 100,000 miles and has never had the slave master cylinders replaced, we recommend replacing them when the clutch is replaced.
Clutch repair service costs vary depending on the vehicle. Generally a small car clutch replacement (without a new flywheel) will run between $700 and $1000. Any hydraulic parts will increase that cost. If the vehicle has a dual-mass or other complex flywheel, that part alone could add $1000 to $1500 to the repair cost.
Clutch repair service on SUV’s and pick-up trucks vary depending on the size of the vehicle. For example, a ¾ ton truck will have a larger clutch and flywheel. Replacement part will cost more than those for a smaller one-half ton truck. Imported car and truck parts are universally more expensive than domestic parts making clutch replacements on imports in the range of $1300 to $2000.
Whatever your clutch repair service needs, Wayne’s Transmissions offers you a professional repair using superior quality parts at affordable prices with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. Because we specialize in transmission and drivetrain systems, we don’t offer general automotive repair work.
We’ve been serving the Boise community with transmission, clutch, and all other drivetrain system repairs for over 46 years. Call us today at (208) 322-1236 or stop by our location at 2687 S. Cole Rd. in Boise just south of Costco. Bring your vehicle to the masters, and you’ll be glad you did!