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Summary
  • Clutch slippage occurs when the friction disc slips against the flywheel.
  • A slipping clutch will cause an increase in engine speed without a corresponding increase in vehicle speed.
  • You can typically expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,500 for a professional to replace the clutch assembly.
  • You can save money by personally replacing the clutch assembly if you have the tools and the know-how.
  • Fixing a slipping clutch involves finding the cause of the slippage and replacing the faulty part.

These days, very few vehicles have a manual transmission. But if your car is one of the few that do, you can expect its clutch to wear out eventually. 

Much like brake pads, a clutch is considered a wear item, meaning it’s not designed to last the life of the vehicle. When your car’s clutch begins to wear out or experience premature failure, you may start to notice symptoms, such as clutch slippage. 

What is Clutch Slipping?

car repair kit clutch manual gearbox isolated
From left to right: the flywheel, pressure plate, friction disc, and release bearing.

To understand clutch slippage, you first need to know how a manual transmission clutch works. A typical manual transmission clutch assembly includes four primary components: The flywheel, friction disc, pressure plate, and release bearing.

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When the clutch pedal is depressed, the release bearing pulls the pressure plate away from the friction disc, resulting in the friction disc disengaging from the flywheel. In this state, the engine is disconnected from the transmission, and rotational force cannot be sent to the drive wheels.

On the other hand, when the clutch pedal is released (foot off of the pedal), the pressure plate keeps the friction disc pressed against the flywheel. In this state, the engine is connected to the transmission, and rotational force can be transferred to the drive wheels.

The video below demonstrates clutch operation:

So, what is clutch slippage? Clutch slippage occurs when the friction disc is not firmly held against the flywheel when it should be. When the friction disc slips, powerflow between the engine and transmission is interrupted.

Although slippage usually results from a worn-out friction disc, other possibilities include insufficient clutch pedal free play, a weak pressure plate, and oil-contaminated mating surfaces.

Signs of a Slipping Clutch

If your car’s clutch is slipping, the symptoms will be fairly obvious. Clutch slippage results in an increase in engine speed without a corresponding increase in vehicle speed. While driving, you’ll notice the engine races, but the car does not go any faster. This is because the slipping clutch is disrupting the flow of power between the engine and transmission.

See also  Making Your Car Clutch Last As Long As It Can

How Do You Check for a Slipping Clutch?

Do you think your car’s clutch might be slipping? You can check for slippage by doing the following:

  • Set the vehicle’s parking brake and chock the drive wheels.
  • Place the transmission into high gear.
  • Increase engine speed slightly.
  • Slowly release the clutch pedal.

The engine should stall immediately once the clutch pedal is released. If the engine continues to run (even momentarily) or slows and continues to run, the clutch is slipping.

car clutch assembly details
If a worn-out clutch assembly is to blame, you can typically expect to pay somewhere between $1000 and $2,500 for a professional to replace the clutch.

FAQs

How Much Does it Cost to Fix a Slipping Clutch?

The cost of fixing a slipping clutch will depend on several factors, including what’s causing the slippage to begin with. If a worn-out clutch assembly is to blame, you can typically expect to pay somewhere between $1000 and $2,500 for a professional to replace the clutch. Of course, the exact cost will depend on the type of vehicle you have and other variables.

Can I Replace a Clutch Myself?

You can save money by replacing the clutch assembly yourself if you have the tools and the know-how. CarParts.com has a wide variety of replacement clutches available for various makes and models.
Keep in mind, however, that replacing a clutch assembly is not a DIY-friendly repair. The job involves first removing the transmission assembly—a complicated and labor-intensive task.  Unless you have the necessary equipment and confidence in your automotive repair skills, clutch replacement is a job best left to a professional.

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How Do You Fix a Slipping Clutch?

To fix a slipping clutch, you (or your mechanic) must first determine what’s causing the slippage in the first place. As was mentioned, clutch slippage can be caused by excessive clutch pedal free play, fluid-contaminated mating surfaces, a worn-out friction disc, or a weak pressure plate.
Once you determine the cause of the concern, you can perform the necessary repairs to fix the vehicle. Usually (but not always), the fix will be to replace the clutch assembly.

About The Author
Written By Automotive Subject Matter Expert at CarParts.com

Mia Bevacqua has over 14 years of experience in the auto industry and holds a bachelor’s degree in Advanced Automotive Systems. Certifications include ASE Master Automobile Technician, Master Medium/Heavy Truck Technician, L1, L2, L3, and L4 Advanced Level Specialist. Mia loves fixer-upper oddballs, like her 1987 Cavalier Z-24 and 1998 Astro Van AWD.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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