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Your Clutch plate (clutch disc) worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Connecting engine and gear: the clutch plate
The clutch plate is the central component for the entire clutch assembly, responsible for disengaging the connection between engine and gearbox. The clutch plate is a wear component with a limited life span. Its replacement is rather complicated, although DIY'ers should be able to master it with some exercise and skill.
Task of the clutch
The engine supplies torque which is variable due to the rotational speed and the compression. For average driving the so-called engine speed range is not wide enough. It needs an adaptable torque conversion and engine speed to move the car safely and comfortably through the traffic. For acceleration, the engine power needs a low gear ratio to overcome the car's moment of inertia. At higher speeds, the gear ratio must be higher to let the wheels rotate fast enough to reach an adequate speed. Furthermore, disengaging the engine torque from the gear enables the idle running of the engine. The clutch makes it all possible, its central element being the clutch plate.
Construction and location
The clutch plate is a circular metal plate with an inner linkage. It has a friction lining on one side, not unlike the lining on brake shoes or brake pads. Additional clutch plate components are its lamellae and springs, supporting the function of the clutch. The clutch lining makes a wear part of the clutch plate. Sooner or later, the lining is totally worn and the clutch can no longer connect the engine and gear. The clutch sits in the clutch bell immediately between engine and gearbox, making it difficult to access.
Clutch plate defects
The clutch plate usually wears gradually until the clutch ceases functioning. The car does no longer accelerate synchronously with the increasing engine speed. Often, a worn clutch plate makes itself heard by a grinding noise. Slow and heavy driving is a typical symptom of a worn clutch. In rare cases the clutch plate cracks. A loud rattle comes from the clutch bell and driving is no longer possible.
Clutch plate repair
Let it be clear: a clutch is principally replaced as a set. For this maintenance step, everything recommended by the manufacturer should be replaced. When a clutch is worn, the release bearing and all other replaceable parts have reached the end of their life span. Therefore, saving on the wrong end here is a serious error. Clutch replacement is a repair for the experienced. The engine must be separated from the gearbox. This is very complicated and requires special tools, like e.g. professional car stands to secure the car as well as a gearbox jack.
Making the work easier with a centring pin
The clutch plate is loosely placed in the gear and exactly centring it is very important. If errors are made here, the gear does not connect with the engine. A centring pin is therefore an indispensable tool for this repair. You can make one yourself with help a piece of piping and a roll of tape. Be sure to keep one at hand for the repair.
Replacing the gear oil and the dual mass flywheel
Disassembly of the gear box requires drainage of the transmission oil. This is an excellent occasion for a gear oil change. A critical element is the dual mass flywheel. If the car has one of those, it should be replaced along with the clutch. At 600 EUR (± £ 530) it is rather expensive despite its limited life span. Therefore, it is not worth while replacing the clutch plate and having to disassemble the entire system after another twenty thousand km just because of the dual mass flywheel.
Price of a clutch plate
The price of a single clutch plate starts at ca. 40 EUR (± £35). Costs for a complete set with all accessory components costs start at ca. 100 EUR (± £90). It is always important to choose branded quality from a professional retailer. This way you are certain to enjoy your repaired clutch for a very long time.