clutch

how do you know when the clutch is going bad?

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clutch disc wears out. The operation starts feeling "soft" - it no longer matters how fast you let the clutch pedal out because the clutch slips anyway (the engine won't stall, and there is no big jerk when you "pop" the clutch). If that is happening, drive very gently until you can have the clutch replaced. A light foot on the throttle when starting off and shifting can delay the inevitable a few months, while a heavy foot can leave the car where it sits within a day or two.
Sometimes they fail the other way; the pressure plate or either of the bearings can fail in ways that prevent the clutch from fully disengaging. Shifting becomes difficult, and you may not be able to get into reverse without forcing it. As we've recently been reminded, those symptoms can come from the clutch hydraulic cylinders that are not actually part of the clutch itself... everything else requires a clutch replacement to fix. If this is happening to you, check out the thread, "Accord Manual transmission question" that started Nov 27.
Finally, they can become noisy. The noise can be when the clutch is depressed, or when it is not. Either way the cure is the same - clutch replacement - but most people elect to ignore the noise. It can go many years without getting worse. I've never personally had a noisy clutch fail because of the noise.
Mike
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