Diagnosing a clutch problem properly can save you time and money by pinpointing the issue and avoiding unnecessary maintenance. Virtually all motor vehicles have some sort of clutch mechanism in their make up. By understanding the sounds and actions of a failing clutch, you can repair problems on everything from your car to your riding lawnmower.
Slipping is the most common problem. Test drive the vehicle. Make a note of all the sounds and actions not normal in the clutch's operation. Drive in a lower gear than the speed requires and if the engine races, the clutch is slipping.
Chattering is another common problem. This is a jerking and grabbing action that occurs when the clutch is engaged. If chattering is occurring, check the vehicle's components around the clutch first. If nothing is externally causing the chattering, removal and disassembling of the clutch will be required.
Worn or seized bearings can cause high-pitched whines. If not repaired, these squeals can turn into grinding sounds.
Chirping noises are caused by vibration in the clutch's actuator mechanism.
Hard to depress clutch pedals are a symptom of sticking or binding in the linkage. A blockage or worn seals in the hydraulic system will also make it harder to depress the pedal.
If the pedal won't come back up when depressed, the problem might be the linkage's defective slave or master clutch cylinder. Air in the hydraulics can also cause the lack of action.
Always work your way through possible problems by going from easiest to most difficult.