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How the Clutch Works in a Manual Transmission

Every transmission has a clutch, which is required to engage and disengage the drive shaft’s moving parts. However, in a manual transmission, also called a standard transmission or more casually referred to as a stick shift, the driver has to manipulate a pedal in order to engage the clutch and shift the gears. Because the driver controls the clutch in a standard transmission as opposed to it being automatically controlled in an automatic, there is usually more clutch wear and as a result the clutch is often the most repaired or replaced component of a stick shift. Learn more about how the clutch works to use yours appropriately and avoid untimely visits to a transmission shop in San Jose for clutch repair.


Clutch Components

The clutch inside a manual transmission consists of four primary components: the flywheel, pressure plate, disc, and throw-out bearing. The clutch assembly is held together by a pressure plate that is bolted to the flywheel, which spins along with the motion of the engine along the drive shaft. The disc allows the pressure plate and flywheel to make and break contact with the engine, while the throw-out bearing works in conjunction with the release system to allow the clutch to engage and disengage.

Operating the Clutch

When the clutch pedal is depressed, the disc, pressure plate, and flywheel are disengaged so the driver can shift into a higher or lower gear. When the pedal is up, these components are engaged and the vehicle is in motion in the selected gear. Because of the wear and tear placed on the components inside the clutch assembly when it is engaged, drivers are advised not to “ride the clutch” (keep the clutch pedal pressed down while driving) since this will increase wear on the components and lead to problems that will require clutch repair or replacement.

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