What Does Clutch Do in a Car?

December 4, 2023

The clutch is what connects the engine to the gearbox to transfer the rotational motion from the engine to the wheels to get your car moving. When the clutch is engaged (clutch pedal up) the engine is connected to the gearbox, and when you depress the clutch pedal it disconnects them. When you use the clutch you are actually pushing down on a lever that, through springs and pins, pulls the pressure plate away from the flywheel to momentarily separate the two shafts from each other. This stops the engine power from transferring to the wheels and allows you to change gears without your vehicle’s engine turning over.

Many drivers mishandle the clutch, often due to incorrect positioning of their foot on the pedal. This can cause excessive wear and tear to the clutch. Other common causes include not using the clutch when changing gears, riding the clutch while waiting at a traffic light or drive-thru window, or driving over deep puddles of water or snow.

Typically, the clutch in your manual transmission is made up of several plates enclosed within a housing. The number of plates and the thickness of those plates determine how much power the clutch can transmit. When the clutch is in the “engaged” position, the plates are tightly pressed together and transfer power easily. When the clutch is in the “disengaged” position, the plates are not tightly pressed and it requires more force to transmit power.


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