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How to Know if Your Clutch is Working Properly

Car Clutch

One of the costliest and most unexpected and unpredictable issues that your vehicle can have is the transmission. Seemingly out of nowhere issues can appear in an instant. A large majority of that stems from the clutch.
Fortunately, knowing what to look, listen, and feel for is a great way to see the signs early before long-term damage can be inflicted. With that in mind, these are some of the best ways to tell if your car clutch is working properly or not.

Pedal Problems

A great way to see if your clutch is experiencing any issues is to test the gas pedal for a few different signs of wear and tear. If something is wrong with your clutch your pedal will begin to feel soft and spongy and you may notice it starting to stick to the floor. Both of these issues indicate a larger problem with the master cylinder, either through a seal leak or it having gone out completely. Either way, make sure to seek a mechanic and repair immediately as this is an extremely dangerous situation and makes your vehicle unsafe to drive.

Dragging Clutch

Does your vehicle make a weird grinding noise every time you shift gears? This could signal a dragging clutch, which occurs when the clutch won’t disengage the flywheel after shifting and instead, the clutch continues to spin with the engine which can greatly increase the difficulty of shifting. Fortunately it’s a lower-than-most cost repair that is often just caused by too much slack in the clutch pedal itself.

Slipping Gears

Regardless of whether it’s an automatic or a manual transmission, your vehicle should stay in the selected gear until you shift it again. If you notice yours shifting to neutral without you doing so or shifting between gears on its’ own then that’s an indication to an extremely severe issue. This can be caused by a break or extensive wear in the transmission in the link that holds the gears together. When this occurs it’s possible to lose power to the wheels so if you notice your vehicle slipping gears, seek an mechanic’s help and repair as fast as possible before more damage can occur.


Obviously no leak is a good one and can mean significant issues are at hand and in a transmission, a leak can lead to the engine seizing. If you see fluid under your vehicle, it’s important to find out immediately what it could be by taking your vehicle into a trustworthy auto mechanic. In automatic vehicles, the automatic transmission fluid is a bright and clear red in color and can even smell a little sweet. A darker fluid can suggest that it’s time to have the fluid replaced and flushed to avoid long-term issues.

Hard to Shift

If you’re having difficulties shifting gears in your vehicle, then there’s a chance that something is wrong with the master cylinder. Shifting gears should be a smooth and fluid feeling process and anything more difficult than that can indicate that the master cylinder is beginning to fail, something that if unrepaired immediately can lead to severe and possibly irreplaceable damage to your transmission. Difficulties shifting usually occur most in first gear or in reverse.

Car Gear

Test it Out

A great way to see just exactly how well your clutch is holding up is to get on the road and see for yourself. Simply rev the engine while in first and shift to a higher gear; if your vehicle still continues to rev then it’s possible that the gear hasn’t caught and that the clutch could be going out. If you do this and your car shakes and slowly begins to pick up speed then it’s a good sign that your clutch is performing properly.
All of these are signs that show there could be something wrong with your clutch or even your transmission as a whole. If your vehicle isn’t experiencing anything like these symptoms then most likely the clutch is ok. You should still have your vehicle inspected and serviced regularly though to avoid escalating issues that can cause extensive and expensive damage and potentially ruin your vehicle beyond repair.