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How Does A Clutch Work And What Does It Do? [Answered]

How Does A Clutch Work And What Does It Do? [Answered]

Have you ever wondered what transpires inside a vehicle when you push a clutch pedal? A clutch is a motorized device whose function is to disengage and engage power transmission to the shafts of an engine.

The clutch functions with two rotating shafts whereby a pulley or a motor drives one shaft, and the other one drives another device. Additionally, the clutch of the two shafts can either be locked together to spin at the same speed or be separated to spin at different speeds.

Generally, understanding how the clutch works is a simple task that does not require straining. Read on for more information regarding the functioning of a clutch.

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The Components Of A Clutch

The clutch has several elements that play significant functions in its operation. By apprehending the critical components of a clutch, you can be sure that you will not have a hard time comprehending how a clutch works.

The Flywheel

The flywheel plays three main functions. First, it maintains the inertia to enhance engine rotation and consequently provide more consistent torque to the engine. Secondly, it provides a ring gear that the starter motor engages on, and lastly, it provides a friction surface for the friction disc.

The Drive Friction Disc

The Driven disc joins the transmission input shaft. It has a friction material that modulates the clutch to control the drive when taking off. Further, the driven friction disc also includes a sprung hub that absorbs the vibration from the engine. It also absorbs the torque emanating from engaging and disengaging the drive.

The Pressure Plate

The pressure plate is one of the critical parts of a clutch. It spins together with the flywheel.

When you press the clutch pedal, the pressure plates clamp on the clutch plate to facilitate a swift gear movement while preventing and minimizing the vibrations that lead to tear and wear.

Friction Surface

The friction surface plays a vital role in the operation of a clutch, considering that friction directly influences how the clutch works.

The clutch plate acts against the friction surface to provide the required movement for the smooth functioning of the clutch.

Diaphragm Spring

The motion is transmitted to the diaphragm spring when you press the pedal clutch. Consequently, the diaphragm spring pulls the pressure plate away, allowing for the free movement of gears.

How Does A Fan Clutch Work?

A fan clutch is a thermal-controlled coupling between the fan and the water pump shaft, allowing the fan to run at low speeds and disconnect at high speeds, hence letting the engine work more efficiently by eliminating the pressure the fan exerts on it.

How the fan clutch works depends on its type. In other words, there are different fan clutches; thermal, non-thermal, and electric. All three primary fan clutches use silicone fluid to engage and disengage the fan.

Non-Thermal Fan Clutches

Non-thermal fan clutches work based on the speed of the water pump. At low speeds, the clutch permits the fan blade to turn at about a 1:1 ratio, while at high speeds, the silicone fluid in the clutch cannot transfer energy to the fan and hence gets to the point of free-wheel, removing pressure from the engine.

Thermal Fan Clutches

The thermal fan clutches work by responding to underhood temperatures. As the hot air passes across the radiator, the thermal spring at the front clutch hits up and turns to allow valve ports to open in the clutch. The silicone fluid in the reservoir passes through the open ports and gets into the working area of the clutch. Consequently, the clutch engages and drives the fan. Once the engine cools, the thermal spring rotates back, closing the valve.

The Electronic

The electronic fan clutch works similarly to a thermal clutch, only that PCM/ECM signals control the level of engagement of the clutch.

What Does A Clutch Do?

The clutch is an essential part of a vehicle that connects two or more rotating shafts. Generally, the engine generates power with most of its parts constantly rotating while the wheels are not constantly spinning.

To allow the vehicle to change speed and come to a complete stop without necessarily turning off the engine, you need to temporarily cut off the connection between the engine and the wheels. Two main parts influence how a clutch works; the flywheel and the clutch plate.

When you are not pressing the clutch pedal, some springs exert pressure against the clutch plate and the flywheel hence connecting the engine to the wheels. Pressing the clutch pedal pulls the pressure plate away from the clutch plate and consequently disconnects the engine from the wheels. Additional functions of the clutch include;

  • Transmits the torque power from the engine to the drivetrain
  • Delivers the power to the engine to facilitate smooth movement of the vehicle
  • Works to reduce drive-related vibrations
  • Protect the drivetrain if abused

How Does A Motorcycle Clutch Work?

Understanding how your motorcycle's clutch works is critical because it can help you advance your riding skills and, at the same time, assist in taking good care of your bike. While some bikers do not care how their bikes work to deliver a smooth ride, some want to know how every part of the bike functions.

A motorcycle clutch's primary role is to disengage the engine from the transmission temporarily. When you pull the motorcycle's clutch lever, the pressure keeping the friction plates tight is released, allowing the flywheel to spin. Releasing the lever leads to the friction plates catching against each other to engage the engine.

How Does A Clutch Work On A Motorcycle?

As long as you are acquainted with the main role of a clutch in a motorcycle, you should find it easy to respond to the question "how does a clutch work on a motorcycle."

Pulling the clutch lever results in temporary disengaging of the transmission of torque power to the engine; while releasing the clutch, the friction plates rub against each other to engage the engine to the transmission. To be precise, pulling the clutch lever allows disengaging the engine from the transmission to change gears before re-engaging the engine with the transmission.

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Clutch Manual Transmission

Most people driving automatic vehicles are unfamiliar with how the clutch manual transmission occurs. In a manual clutch transmission, the clutch is connected to the engine shaft and the shafts that turn the wheel.

When you press the clutch pedal, the pressure plates pull away to disconnect the engine from the wheels. On the other hand, releasing the clutch pedal exerts pressure against the clutch plate and the flywheel hence connecting the engine to the wheels.

Common Clutch Problems

While the clutch is an essential part of a vehicle, it sometimes experiences different problems. Knowing some of these problems is crucial because it will help you to avoid them and protect your vehicle from ever experiencing such problems.

  • Tear and wear: the clutch is typically exposed to constant friction, which can trigger tears and wear to the materials used to construct the clutch.
  • Leaks of the fluid out of the cylinder deny the clutch enough pressure to function normally.
  • A stiff clutch means you need a lot of force to get your clutch to work. That is an indication of a problem with the clutch.
  • The air can get into the line, limiting the pressure necessary for the system to work seamlessly.


Understanding how the clutch of your machine works is essential as it can help advance your driving skills and take good care of your engine. If you suspect a problem with your clutch system, the best way to solve it is to consult a professional mechanic. In addition, when purchasing pertinent parts for your car, ensure that you get them from a reputable outlet.