A clutch system disconnects flow of power from the engine to the transmission system without turning off the engine. A typical clutch assembly consists of four main components; the pressure plate, clutch plate, spring diaphragm and the releaser bearing. All of these components sit within your bell-housing connected to the bottom of the engine block. The clutch plate sits against the engines flywheel and has linings much like the linings on brakes for friction purposes on both its surfaces. The pressure plate is bolted on the flywheel and exerts constant force by means of a spring diaphragm placed between the pressure plate and clutch plate.
The clutch plate (driven plate) runs on a splined shaft between the pressure plate and flywheel. It is faced with linings on either side which grips the pressure plate and flywheel when fully engaged. When the clutch pedal is pressed inside the car it activates a piston in a master cylinder which transmits pressure through a fluid filled pipe to a slave cylinder mounted on the clutch housing, the slave cylinder piston is connected to the clutch releaser arm which controls the releaser bearing and presses hard against your spring diaphragm. This pushes the pressure plate away from the clutch plate connected to the flywheel to interrupt power transmission to the gearbox so that gear changing is possible. When the gear is selected the releaser bearing releases pressure from the spring diaphragm and allows the clutch plate and pressure plate to re-engage and to run on the next gear. On the clutch plate are springs built into to it which allows for a little clutch slip for smooth gear changing and to absorb any vibrations from the pressure plate and clutch plate re-engaging.
So now that you know how the clutch system works here are a few points on your clutch getting damaged and why:
If it is a hydraulic clutch, which is what is discussed above, the reason the clutch plate gets damaged over years has to do with the wear of the clutch plate or disc, which leads to High pressure plate travel or clutch cover travel. Meaning that the clutch cover or pressure plate has to travel a greater distance in order to release the plate.
If it is a cable system then you may add to the excessive wear of the plate from the tension in the cable becoming too loose which causes massive friction damage and is the reason why hydraulic systems were designed.
- Any air in the hydraulic clutch actuation system.
- Thermal loads on the pressure plate or clutch cover pivot trims.
- Thermal loads on the pressure plate or clutch cover diaphragm springs.
A few tips to help lengthen the life span of your clutch system:
- Drivers should learn to take off with minimum gas i.e. riding the clutch. Because riding the clutch damages the linings on the clutch plate.
- Never hold your car steady on an incline by using your clutch rather use the handbrake.
- Always try your best to avoid a dead stop at the bottom of a steep incline.
- When driving up a steep incline do not play with your clutch while driving, rather stick to a suitable gear and only use your clutch if you need to change gears.