Mechanics

Clutch Replacement

Easy step by step guide on how to replace an automotive engine clutch disc and pressure plate, though appearances may vary, the process is the same on most vehicles.

Difficulty Level - 6

Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Complete tool set
  • Clutch replacement kit with alignment tool
  • Resurfaced Flywheel
  • Hoist or hydraulic jack with stands.
  • Transmission fluid
  • Shop towels
  • Protective eyewear and gloves
  • Fluid catch basin
  • Transmission jack
  • Dust mask
Begin with the vehicle lifted enough to access the transmission while using jack stands for safety, wear protective eyewear, gloves and breathing mask. (Note: A clutch is constructed using asbestos which causes cancer, use a mask before removing the clutch disc.)

Step 1 - To replace a clutch assembly the transmission and exhaust system must be removed.

Please visit our manual transmission removal guide for further instructions.


Transmission Removed

Step 2 - Inspect and identify the old clutch assembly for damage such as a broken pressure plate finger or disc springs.


Worn Clutch Assembly

Step 3 - While wearing a dust mask, remove all but one of the mounting bolts that hold the pressure plate to the flywheel, it will move outward as the pressure is released and becomes loose.


Remove Pressure Plate Bolts

Step 4 - While the last bolt is removed, keep your hands on the disc and plate, they will become loose.


Hold Clutch Disc

Step 5 - Once the clutch is fully removed, firmly grasp and carefully remove it from the flywheel.


Clutch Removed

Step 6 - Check the flywheel's condition, this unit must be resurfaced or replaced to ensure proper clutch operation. (Note: If the flywheel is not resurfaced or replaced the new clutch might chatter which is common problem.)

Please visit our flywheel removal guide for further instructions.


Flywheel

Step 7 - Once removed, inspect the clutch disc for wear, the assembly rivets are a good indication of such wear.


Clutch Disc Wear

Step 8 - Match the new clutch disc and pressure plate to the old units to ensure a proper installation.


New Clutch Disc - Pressure Plate

Step 9 - Fit the clutch disc over the input shaft of the transmission to ensure a proper installation.


Input Shaft Fit

Step 10 - It's important to install the disc in the proper direction, the side that is protruding outward goes toward the pressure plate. (Note: If the disc is installed incorrectly, it will not release.)


Toward Pressure Plate

Step 11 - Once the new or resurfaced flywheel has been reinstalled, its highly recommended to replace the pilot bearing, this takes a special puller designed for the job.

Please visit our pilot bearing removal guide for further instructions.


Pilot Bearing Removal Tool

Step 12 - Gently install the new clutch disc and pressure plate onto the alignment dowels on the flywheel while installing the mounting bolts by hand. (Note: Leave the pressure plate bolts a little loose so the pressure plate can move.)


Installing New Clutch Assembly

Step 13 - An alignment tool is usually included in the clutch replacement kit, and is needed to align the clutch disc to the pilot bearing.


Clutch Disc Alignment Tool

Step 14 - With the clutch disc loose, position and install the clutch alignment tool, hand tighten the bolts further to hold the disc in place, once installed, rock the tool around a little to find a good center point.


Installing Alignment Tool

Step 15 - Tightening the pressure plate evenly and slowly in a star pattern, work your way around the pressure plate slowly tightening several times until completely tight, you will notice the fingers of the pressure plate traveling inward as you tighten the bolts, you want this progression to be as even as possible. (Note: If this step is not done correctly the clutch will not release properly which can cause hard shifting.)


Tighten Pressure Plate Bolts

Step 16 - After all pressure plate mounting bolts are tight, remove the clutch alignment tool, the clutch is now ready for transmission reinstallation, (Note: It is highly recommended to replace the throw out bearing during this repair.)

Please visit our throw out bearing removal guide for further instructions.


Remove Alignment Tool

Step 17 - Once the transmission has been reinstalled, slowly pump the clutch pedal until normal operation is present.


Pump Clutch Pedal

Helpful Information

After the repair, start the engine and push the clutch pedal down completely while shifting the transmission through the gears. Its normal for this operation to be a little rough while the clutch is in "break in" period, this should return to normal shifting after a few miles.

Common clutch problems include chattering, slipping, and gear grinding when shifting.

Avoid overloading a vehicle or towing beyond its capacity, this can cause premature transmission failure.

Troubleshooting

  • If a whirring sound is heard, then it goes away when the clutch is depressed, the transmission input shaft bearing has failed.
  • If the transmission is quiet in neutral but when you depress the clutch pedal a squealing noise is heard, the throw out bearing has failed.
Will not go into gear:

  • Clutch hydraulic system fluid is low
  • Disc is broken
  • Internal transmission damage
  • Failed primary cylinder
  • Seized secondary cylinder
  • Broken fork pivot - older models
  • Broken cable
Goes into gear but it fades out or is slipping

  • Disc is worn out
  • Disc is oil soaked from an external engine oil leak
Car makes grinding noise while shifting

  • Pilot bearing has failed not allowing the input shaft to stop.
  • Gear cyncro is worn out and failing to stop the gear before engaging it, causing a grind.

AUTHOR


Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of 2CarPros.com
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2015-04-30)