Furry Woes


We’re very sorry. We could not save your pet…

Suzuki swift clutch pad destroyed

Is that my Poodle?

Thankfully, the fur above isn’t from a live pet, nor even from a pet at all! RSPCA advocates/ambassadors, you may return to your seats. There comes a time, in the life of each & every manual car,  where the clutch reaches the end of it’s lifespan. This is when clutch failure can come silently – Sometimes, together, with a cloud of fog – akin to a horror movie. It could also turn out like the above.

Clutch History

A long long time ago, before you were born..In the year 1895, the first clutch was born, to enable cars to transition between high and low gears whilst in motion. Without the clutch, the cars then, would have had to come to a complete stop before changing gears and then moving off. The cycle would repeat when another change was required – A year after the inventors had created a modern transmission that would allow different speeds on a vehicle. And so Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor had started a literal revolution!

With modern clutches, we’ve advanced so far in terms of materials selection for the clutch cover, clutch pads and flywheel that higher levels of torque can be handled by clutches, no larger than the palm of your hand. Lifespan and strength have exceeded the original invention by leaps and bounds, so it’s quite common to see clutch packs last a long time!

So, HOW did this clutch turn cute and furry?

When clutches burn out, they do so quite spectacularly. The following picture depicts what can happen when Monster University and the real world get mixed up at high RPMs. No more nightmares for a while… In fact it’s the inverse!

The shiny fibres that are visible are the strands of fibreglass present in the friction pads of the Suzuki Swift Original Clutch.

Clutch material sneaking a peek into the world

Clutch material sneaking a peek into the world

With this Suzuki Swift, the clutch pads decided to take a holiday and depart from the clutch plate itself. When this happens, the rest of the gearbox drivetrain assembly will not be able to generate any bite/friction – Resulting in the inability for the transfer of power, from Engine to Gearbox, from happening.

This means the car will not be going anywhere without the help of a tow truck. Which is what happened.

Clutch pad materials destroyed

Clutch pad materials destroyed

Prevention & Detection

So, how do we know WHEN the manual clutch should be changed? We definitely should need to know how to test this or notice this, to avoid being stranded at a carpark or experience a power loss on the highway!

Detection

IF YOU:

  1. Are able to move off in your highest gear..
  2. Have experienced a burning smell, even briefly
  3. notice that the rising engine RPMs do not correlate to the vehicle speed any more

Your vehicle will be looking at a clutch replacement soon.

Prevention

We should:

  1. Spend less time half clutching by:
    1. Wait till the clutch is fully released before revving it!
  2. Keep RPMs low when moving off e.g. below 2,000rpms
  3. Rev-match while engine braking to prevent half-clutching unnecessarily (We will be on hand to teach if you need some help)

 

** Note that all recommendations are for Factory clutches. Aftermarket / Race clutches may need to be driven differently.