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Your Clutch pressure plate (clutch cover) worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Engaging and disengaging - the clutch pressure plate
The clutch pressure plate is a component of the single-disc dry clutch. It forms a unit with the flywheel. Within it, the clutch plate is loosely positioned. Together with the release bearing, the clutch pressure plate is instrumental for disengaging the clutch. Other names for the clutch pressure plate are pressure plate or spring plate. However, it should not be confused with the clutch plate.
Construction and function of the clutch pressure plate
Flywheel, clutch plate and clutch pressure plate are all of complicated construction, their functionality only becoming apparent after closer scrutiny. The most striking feature of a clutch pressure plate is its diaphragm spring, a star of metal springs. These are compressed by the release bearing, generating a counter-pressure. This counter-pressure engages the release bearing when the clutch pedal is released and puts the pedal back in its original position. What is important to understand: the disc spring continues at the edge of the clutch pressure plate, generating a reverse effect. The protruding ends of the disc spring press the clutch plate against the flywheel during driving. If they would not do so, the driver would have to keep his foot on the clutch pedal continuously and only release it in order to disengage. Now the clutch is disengaged only when stepping on the pedal and activating the release bearing, and deactivated by releasing the pedal.
Defects of the spring plate
The clutch pressure plate is a complicated construction. Inferior quality spare parts or ignoring replacement intervals can cause a number of defects. The lamellae of the springs can crack or lose their tensioning force. The connection with the flywheel can be lost when the mounting bolts break off or loosen through vibration. Loose components in a clutch are very dangerous for engine, transmission as well as the clutch unit, as they can cause excessive damage very rapidly.
Pressure plate replacement
The spring plate is a clutch component. As the clutch is always replaced as a set with all its moving components, this includes replacement of a clutch pressure plate. It would mean saving at the wrong end to separately replace the pressure plate whilst continuing to use the flywheel, release bearing and especially the clutch plate. With a complete replacement of all components the clutch regains a completely new condition. undoubtedly taking you safely to the next replacement interval.
Unfortunately, the times when a clutch could be replaced user-friendly within 30 minutes are long gone. Many DIY'ers long for the old Opel Kadett E, a milestone of easy repair on this point. The replacement of a clutch unit is basically not very complicated, but it requires several special tools and plenty of time. The clutch is replaced from underneath the car. The only alternative to replacing the clutch by way of the car's underbody is disassembly of the entire engine and transmission. For some cars there is no other option. A car mechanic rule of thumb however dictates that when there are more than three major repairs of the engine necessary, disassembly of the engine and transmission is required. So, when in addition to the clutch, V-belt, cylinder head gasket, oil pan gasket and the cooling system need maintenance, disassembly of the engine makes the work considerably easier. An engine jack should be at hand in this case. All in all this procedure is considerably safer than working underneath the car without a lifting platform. If you are replacing the clutch only, safety is priority one. This applies especially to jacking up te car. Never place the car on cobblestones or timber blocks. The only approved tools are professional, robust car jack stands, fully supporting the car during the repair. The simple jack is only allowed for placing the car on the stands. For working under the car it is way too dangerous.
Simplifying the work with the centring pin
The clutch disk is placed loosely between flywheel and the clutch pressure plate. Tightening the clutch pressure plate fixes the clutch plate and it can no longer move. If it is not centred precisely the gear shaft will not fit. The use of a centring pin prevents this. This tool is available in the accessory trade. Alternatively it can be constructed with a piece of piping and a roll of tape.
Costs for a clutch pressure plate
The clutch pressure plate alone costs between 50 and 200 EUR (± £45 - £180). As stated earlier, it should never be replaced separately but only as a set along with all other clutch components.