How to Diagnose a Slipping Clutch in Your Car

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The clutch on a manual transmission car usually lasts anywhere from four to seven years, depending on where you drive (in the city, on hills, etc.) and your personal driving habits.

Instructions

  1. Note poor gas mileage.

  2. Notice if you need to downshift more frequently when going up hills.

  3. Take note if the engine sounds like it's revving when you accelerate or start moving from a stop.

  4. Be aware if the clutch can no longer be adjusted to create more pedal "free play."

  5. Notice if the clutch pedal begins to feel stiff and requires more force to depress it.

  6. Make sure the clutch is properly adjusted: You should feel about 1/2 inch of free play (or slack) at the clutch pedal when you first put your foot lightly on the clutch pedal.

  7. Put the handbrake on.

  8. Turn the engine on.

  9. Depress the clutch pedal and put the transmission in fourth gear.

  10. Slowly let up on the clutch while stepping on the gas pedal.

  11. If you are able to completely release the clutch pedal without the engine stalling (or the car moving), your clutch is history.

Tips & Warnings

  • A clutch that needs an adjustment will create the same symptoms as a clutch that needs replacing. Replacing the clutch is typically a 5- to 6-hour job (pricey!), while a clutch adjustment takes less than 5 minutes.
  • Make sure the handbrake works well and be prepared to move your foot quickly to the foot brake in case the car starts moving or lurches forward.

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