Understanding Clutch Control

January 27, 2012

Clutch control is the process of controlling a vehicle’s speed using manual transmission. If your car has manual controls, it is important that you understand how the car’s clutch works.

Parts of a Clutch

Essentially, the clutch is made up of 2 plates – the pressure and the friction plates. Connected to the crank shaft is the friction plate while the pressure plate receives the force made by an actuator. Through an axle, the pressure plate is connected to the gear box.

How the Clutch Works

Knowing how the clutch works will give you an idea on how you can use it in different situations. When the clutch is engaged, the actuator pushes the 2 plates together. When these plates touch, torque is produced and transmitted to your car’s engine. However, once the car is moving and a certain amount of speed is reached, the plates will equalize.

In a manual car, the clutch is controlled by the clutch foot pedal. As you press the foot pedal down, less acceleration is formed. On the other hand, the opposite action will give you higher acceleration. When the pedal is pressed down completely, the link between the driveshaft and the engine is absent. This means that the shaft receives no power. If the clutch pedal is released, then there is contact between the shaft and the engine. By doing this, you are sending power to the shaft. There are cases, however, when you slip the clutch. This means that the clutch is only partially engaged, so only a small amount of power is sent from the engine to the shaft.

When to Use the Clutch

In a manual transmission, the clutch plays an important role because it tells what speed the vehicle should run. Also, there are specific situations when clutch control should be used. Essentially, the clutch is used in 4 ways – stopping, changing the gear, moving off and controlling the vehicle at slow speed.

Often times, clutch control is used to control the acceleration of the car when driving at low gear or low speed. It is often also used to minimize acceleration when your car starts from a complete rest or slow start. This is done by making the clutch slip wherein the friction made on the clutch plate makes the shaft equalize as the car increases speed.

When you are driving a manual transmission, you need to use the clutch more slowly than usual, at the same time revving up your engine higher. During extreme road conditions like snow or rain, it is essential to know how to use the clutch. Normally, you need to slow the engagement of the clutch as the gear increases, to prevent stalling the engine. Which in turn can cause the wheels and car to spin.

Although all cars have clutches, including automatic ones, you will encounter several problems regarding clutches. One of the main problems you may encounter is a worn out clutch. Because of the constant friction applied to the plates, the friction material starts to wear off. When this happens, the clutch starts to slip.

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