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Summary
  • The throwout bearing disengages the engine from the wheel when you step on the clutch pedal.
  • Some symptoms of a bad throwout bearing include weird noises, vibration in the clutch pedal, shifting issues, and a stiff clutch pedal.
  • It costs approximately $575 to replace a faulty throwout bearing, labor costs included.

The transmission system moves power from the engine to the wheels. It’s made up of different components, and each one plays a vital role in its operation. One of these parts is the throwout bearing, which could affect your ride’s performance if it’s faulty or damaged.

What Is a Throwout Bearing?

A throwout bearing or clutch release bearing helps the engine disengage from the wheels when the driver steps on the clutch pedal.

clutch release bearing part of the slave cylinder
The clutch release bearing in the illustration is part of the slave cylinder, which is hydraulically actuated. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Like other bearings, the throwout bearing essentially connects moving and non-moving parts. In this case, it’s between the clutch pressure plate, which spins while the vehicle is moving, and the hydraulic slave cylinder, a non-moving part.

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How Does the Throwout Bearing Work?

When you step on the clutch pedal, the throwout bearing presses against the fingers of the pressure plate, lifting the pressure plate’s clamping force from the asbestos-lined clutch disc, which is splined to the transmission input shaft and is clamped between the pressure plate, and the flywheel when the clutch is released.

plate rotates with a flywheel bolted to the crankshaft
Releasing the clutch allows the engine to keep running while the transmission input shaft stops so you can put it in gear or shift to the next gear. The plate rotates with a flywheel bolted to the crankshaft. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

When force is exerted on the center of the plate, the pressure is released from the clutch disc forced against the flywheel. This allows the engine to operate without transferring torque to the transmission or transaxle.

Bad Throwout Bearing Symptoms

Like any other auto part, throwout bearings can get damaged and malfunction. Some telltale signs of a bad throwout bearing include strange noises, a vibrating clutch pedal, shifting issues, and a stiff clutch pedal.

new release bearing is nice and flat and the worn out one is grooved
You can see how the new release bearing is nice and flat and the worn out one is grooved. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
1994 escort clutch totally destroyed
Older clutches use a relief bearing that slides on the collar that extends from the input bearing retainer. This 1994 Escort clutch was totally destroyed. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Weird Noises

When you hear unusual noises whenever you step on the clutch pedal or noises that change when you operate the clutch with the engine running, you might be dealing with a bad throwout bearing.

Vibration in the Clutch Pedal

The throwout bearing might be starting to wear when you feel vibrations pressing down on the clutch pedal. This occurs when the bearing can’t align well with the pressure plate.

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Shifting Issues

throwout bearing that cannot engage properly
A throwout bearing that can’t engage properly won’t function well, resulting in stiffness or delays in shifting gears. The weird noises and vibrations mentioned above are precursors to this problem since the release bearing rides on the input bearing retainer collar (see illustration). As such, it’s crucial to check the bearing once you feel any of the symptoms above. Needless to say, mistiming your shifts could make for an uncomfortable driving experience. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Stiff Clutch Pedal

Like most auto parts, bearings need lubrication to prevent them from grinding into other components. If the lubrication between the release bearing and the bearing retainer collar wears out or is insufficient, the pedal can become stiffer and can even fail to release. This could lead to failure to disengage the clutch, making it impossible to shift gears at all.

How to Replace a Throwout Bearing

Replacing the throwout bearing can be tricky because you’ll have to remove the flywheel bell housing first. If you’re not confident doing that, it’s best to leave the task to a licensed mechanic.

While the process can differ depending on the vehicle, here are the steps it usually involves:

  • Step 1: Remove the driveshaft and transfer case.
  • Step 2: Remove the clutch slave cylinder and/or clutch linkage.
  • Step 3: Unbolt and remove the transmission.
  • Step 4: Disassemble the clutch assembly and replace the release bearings and other connected parts.
  • Step 5: Reinstall the transmission, linkage, slave cylinder, and other related components.
  • Step 6: Replace the hydraulic fluid and bleed the fluid of any air (Note: this can be tricky).
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There are also cases when the clutch slave cylinder needs to be replaced, and it’s very common to have slave cylinders come with the release bearing as part of that assembly.

Throwout Bearing Replacement Cost

A replacement throwout bearing typically costs between $30 and $100, with an average of $65.

Labor fees vary per auto shop, but they usually hover around $85 per hour. Because the replacement could take up to six hours, that’s a total of $510 in labor.

All in all, it costs approximately $575 to replace the throwout bearing if you ask a mechanic to do it for you.

Final Thoughts

The throwout bearing helps the engine disengage from the wheels whenever you step on the clutch pedal. Strange noises, vibration in the clutch pedal, shifting issues, and a stiff clutch pedal can indicate issues in this part.

The best course of action when dealing with a bad bearing is to take it to a mechanic for repairs or replacement.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

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.

File Under : Transmission , DIY Tagged With : ,
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