February 16, 2007, Newsletter Issue #51: Clutchology 101

Tip of the Week

Whoever came up the phrase "coming through in the clutch", must have been driving at the time. The clutch is one of the toughest and hardest-working parts of your vehicle. Think about it. When you've got your motor running, roaring down the highway, the clutch goes through hell to keep you, lookin' for adventure.

When you make those rapid gear changes, all kinds of variables have to come together in just the right way. If they don't, you're going nowhere. You are relying on a disc that's a mere 5mm to 8mm thick to get power to the transmission. That skinny sucker takes all kinds of abuse. It's at a standstill one moment, and then it's spinning at 4000 to 6000 rpm stuck between two pieces of aluminum. This creates shock, friction and heat that would destroy a lesser component.

That's why selecting a high-quality aftermarket clutch kit from a creditable manufacturer is so important to the life of your car. Your basic clutch is a one-trick pony in a two part sub-assembly, namely a clutch disc and a clutch cover. Connected to the flywheel, the clutch cover contains the all-important pressure plate and diaphragm spring, where all sorts of mechanical things go on.

The clutch disc resides between the flywheel and the pressure plate which has friction material on the front and back surfaces.(The better to grab you with, my dear.) The transfer of power between the engine and transmission takes place at the disc, which is connected to the transmission input shaft by means of splines in its center section.

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