How the clutch system works

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             How the Clutch System works


- The clutch system is one of the most important components of your vehicle, as you already know, it allows you to place your car equipped with a manual transmission in gear, while at the same time shift to the next gear as your car starts moving.

- There are two kinds of clutch systems:

1- Mechanical clutch system

2- Hydraulic clutch system

- Most of the newer vehicles are equipped with hydraulic systems due to their self adjusting feature, older mechanical clutches needed constant adjustment to maintain proper clearance between the clutch release bearing and the clutch pressure plate.


We will focus on the modern hydraulic system since is more likely that your vehicle has this modern system instead of the older design.

The most common parts that you will find in a hydraulic clutch system are:

1- Clutch master cylinder

2- Clutch pedal

3- Clutch slave cylinder

4- Clutch fork ( in some models )

5- Clutch release bearing

6- Clutch pressure plate

7- Clutch disc

8- Flywheel

9- Pilot bearing or pilot bushing depending on the manufacturer.

- If you look on the left side, you will see pictures of the items we just described, now we will move to its operation:


- When you depress the clutch pedal in your vehicle, it pushes a rod connected to the clutch master cylinder, it is in this part that the mechanical pressure being applied by the clutch pedal is transformed in to hydraulic pressure.

The master cylinder either has a reservoir attached to it, or it is connected to a remote reservoir, this reservoir contains the hydraulic fluid ( most systems use brake fluid), that will be forced through the  line in to the clutch slave cylinder.

It is the hydraulic pressure entering the clutch slave cylinder that activates a rod in an external slave cylinder against the clutch fork. The clutch fork will apply pressure against the pressure plate through the clutch release bearing.

In an internal clutch slave cylinder system, the slave and the release bearing are one unit, eliminating the need of a clutch fork.

The pressure being applied by the release bearing forces the pressure plate to decrease the pressure it has against the clutch disc, once this is achieved, the transmission is not longer turning along with the engine, and it is now that you can place the vehicle in gear without damaging the transmission.

The clutch disc is the part that makes contact with both  the pressure plate and the flywheel.
The splines in the center of the clutch disc allow the disc to slide in the splines of the input shaft of the manual transmission, that is how the rotational movement of the engine is transferred from the flywheel to the transmission.

The flywheel is bolted to the rear of the engine , to the crankshaft to be more specific, the crankshaft is the one that converts the up and down movement of the pistons in to rotational movement, that's why the flywheel turns when the engine is running.

So, basically, the function of the clutch is to transfer the rotational movement of the engine to the transmission, while at the same time offers a way to disconnect this force at the driver's command every time the clutch is depressed.


Click on image to learn how to replace the clutch set in a 2002 Hyundai Accent GS.

  Click on image to learn how to replace the clutch set on 1993-2005 Ford Ranger 2wd trucks.

Click on the image to learn how to replace the clutch on a 1995 Ford Ranger 4wd pickup.

Click on the image to learn how to replace the clutch on a 1991 Nissan Pickup 4x4.

- High performance billet aluminum flywheel with steel insert

Click on image to view how to replace a clutch master cylinder on a 1991 Mazda B2200.

  - Click on image to learn about how a clutch slave cylinder works, how to diagnose problems related to it, how to bleed it and more....  


- Click on image to learn how to replace the internal clutch slave cylinder on 1988-1996 Ford F-150 2wd

- Clutch fork

-  Clutch release bearing, or also known as throw-out bearing

- Clutch pilot bearing


 Click on image to learn how to replace the clutch slave cylinder on a 1995 Ford Ranger 2wd