How to Detect a Problem With Your Car’s Clutch

How to Detect a Problem With Your Car’s ClutchHere at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan, Colorado we want you to be safe out on the road. So, we’ve written up a handy guide on how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch. It’s an important aspect of road safety and something that every driver who owns a manual car should know about. By being able to identify issues early, you’ll know what to do and when to ask a professional for help.

It’s hard to predict when your clutch is going to fail. It quite literally depends on the environment in which the car is usually driven and the driving style of the primary driver. If the driver rides the clutch a lot, you can bet that the clutch will wear out much faster.

To put things into perspective, a clutch can last anywhere from 20,000 miles to 150,000 miles. That’s quite a big range! Needless to say, how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch isn’t as simple as keeping an eye on your mileage. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for, indications that it’s time to replace your clutch–or at least have a professional take a look.

Spongy Feeling

If your clutch starts to get a “spongy” feel, this is an early sign of clutch failure. Pay close attention to when the gears catch. If you must let out the clutch almost entirely before the gear kicks in, your clutch is pretty worn out.

Burning Smell

If you start to notice a burning smell when you use the clutch, that’s another indication that failure is imminent. The clutch is beginning to slip, which causes excess friction, which causes the smell.

Difficulty Shifting

If the gears are not engaging smoothly and the car is shaking a lot when changing gears, something is wrong. This warning sign is most apparent in first gear and reverse.

Visibly Damaged Clutch

If you know a little about cars, pull off the inspection cover and take a look at your clutch. Any visible signs of wear and damage mean that it’s going bad. However, if you see fine black dust, this is normal and not an indication that your clutch is going out.

When in Doubt, Test It Out

If you’re still not sure how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch, try this quick road test. Rev the engine high in first gear and then go directly to fifth gear. If the gear doesn’t catch, as in the vehicle keeps whining and revving high, the clutch is going out. However, if the gear catches and the car begins to shake from being in the wrong gear and tries to pick up speed, then your clutch is still okay.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns on how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch, or just want the peace of mind of having a professional examine it, give us a call. Here at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan, our staff is always happy to help out our customers in any way that we can.

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Key Transmission Gears

Top Signs You Have a Clutch Problem

Top Signs You Have a Clutch ProblemIf you drive a manual vehicle for long enough, here in Englewood or across Denver, you will eventually run into problems with your clutch. That’s why it’s so important to know the top signs you have a clutch problem. Key Transmission and Gears presents this helpful list because we know that there is no good guideline, mileage or time passed, to determine when your clutch might go out and need to be replaced.

When it comes to your clutch, the type of driving that you do and the type of driver you are will have the biggest impact on performance. For example, the more you ride the clutch, the faster it wears out. What you can do is pay attention for the top signs you have a clutch problem.

  1. You notice a burning smell

An overheating clutch plate will give off a smell akin to burning rubber. You might even notice a bit of smoke coming out from under your vehicle. Don’t think that just because you don’t see smoke that something isn’t wrong. The burning smell may be unaccompanied by smoke and is still an indication of something being wrong. This is usually created by riding the clutch and is an indicator that you need to have your clutch checked immediately.

  1. You’re having trouble shifting

You might notice that the car starts to shake a lot when shifting, or it becomes increasingly difficult to engage a new gear. This effect usually shows up first in either reverse or first gear so pay particular attention when shifting into those two gears.

  1. You notice that the car starts slipping out of gear

This will show up most often when the car is working hard, such as when going uphill or accelerating. The car starts to be jerky and may even slip completely out of gear. You need to have your clutch checked, as at the very least it needs, to be repaired and possibly even completely replaced.

  1. You can see visible damage to the clutch

If you are one of those people who know what you are doing, you can get under your vehicle and do some detective work. There is usually an inspection cover on the bottom of the bell housing that you can remove in order to see the clutch itself. If you see a fine black dust all over the clutch, don’t worry about that, it is normal. However, if you can see marks and damage on the clutch, then you know that repairs are in order.

Of course, you don’t have to be an expert mechanic to ensure that your car is in good working condition. These top signs you have a clutch problem are just to help you know when to take your car to a qualified mechanic, like the ones we have here at Key Transmission and Gears. Our trained technicians are excellent at inspecting your vehicle and determining whether you have potential problems popping up. Give us a call today if you think you might need some repairs or even just to put your mind at ease.

Key Transmission Gears

Changing Gears with an Automatic Transmission

gear selector Key Transmission & Gear DenverHave you ever wondered about changing gears with an automatic transmission? Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado has the answers for you. Even though you don’t change all the gears like in a manual vehicle, you still have some control over the gears. Knowing when to shift will help improve the power and efficiency of your car, truck or SUV’s engine. 

Use the RPMs

The computer in your car understands how to shift the transmission according to the revolutions per minute or RPM. If the RPM goes up too high, the computer upshifts. Conversely, if the RPM drops too low, the computer sends the signal to downshift.

If you want to get your transmission to upshift, simply stomp down on the gas pedal until the RPM goes high enough to shift. Then ease off the pedal, so you don’t go rocketing down the highway. You may have already unintentionally used this tactic when you wanted a burst of speed to pass someone.

You can also do the opposite. If you want your transmission to downshift, let off the gas pedal. Once the RPM drops low enough, the transmission will shift down.

Use the Lever

Depending on your vehicle, you may have noticed that the transmission lever has more settings than the ones you typically use. You probably use park, reverse, and drive all the time and neutral on occasion. But have you ever noticed that there are a couple more after drive? These are usually labeled with numbers or simply an L. These are your extra low, strong gears.

Here’s when you might need to use them.

Towing

The computer on your vehicle’s engine is calibrated to the weight of your car and makes the gears shift based on that number. When you add extra weight to your vehicle, the computer doesn’t know that and often ends up choosing a gear that is too high for your current load. If you’re towing a trailer, boat or other toys, you’ll want to force it to drop down by changing gears with an automatic transmission.

Going Uphill

Even though you don’t actually add extra weight, when you go up a steep hill gravity essentially makes your vehicle heavier. This puts added torque on your engine that you can balance by using a lower gear.

Going Downhill

You might be wondering why you would use these lower gears to go downhill. Obviously, the load on your engine has been lessened quite a bit. You don’t need extra torque from the transmission, what you need are good brakes, right? Not so fast.

Instead of riding your brakes down a steep hill, which can be dangerous if they overheat, downshift. Changing gears with an automatic transmission (to a lower gear) helps to brake your engine, which slows you down without having to use the actual brakes. Knowing how to use this feature can really save your brakes in mountain driving.

We hope these tips from Key Transmission and Gears have been helpful. Now that you understand more about changing gears with an automatic transmission you may actually put those extra gears to use if you decide to head up into the mountains or tow a sweet teardrop trailer for your summer road trip. While driving a car with an automatic transmission is not as complicated as a manual, knowing these little tricks can help your engine run more efficiently and cause less wear and tear on your vehicle.

Key Transmission Gears

Driving with Transmission Issues

Driving with Transmission Issues Key Transmission & Gear DenverHow much do you know about driving with transmission issues? Our staff here at Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado have put together a bit of information for you.

How do you know that something might be wrong with your transmission? Is it safe to keep driving your car if you feel the automatic transmission slipping? Let’s take a look at a few signs that your transmission is not in great shape and what could be happening with this crucial component.

It Changes Gears When It Shouldn’t

When an automatic transmission changes gears, you can usually hear a noise or change in pitch. If you start hearing that noise when your transmission shouldn’t be changing gears, such as driving on a flat road at a steady speed, that’s an indication that you’re driving with transmission issues.

Rough Gear Changes

While it is normal to hear a change in pitch when an automatic transmission switches gears, clunking or thudding is not. Also, notice if you feel unusual or more pronounced vibrations. These are indications that the gears are not changing smoothly. You also may find that the vehicle doesn’t accelerate well due to difficulty with the gear changes. These should be fluid, and the vehicle shouldn’t jerk or shake.

Vehicle is Less Responsive

When you shift from park to drive, a car should respond and begin moving right away. If you experience a significant delay, that’s an indication your transmission isn’t functioning correctly. Your engine may rev up and sound like it’s doing something, but your car won’t go anywhere for a time. This is unacceptable.

Low Fluid Level

The first thing to do if you notice that the transmission is slipping is to check your transmission fluid. Put the vehicle in park and leave it idling while checking the fluid level. The transmission has a dipstick to see the fluid level. If you find that it is low, give us a call immediately to service the transmission fluid.

Fluid Leak

Sometimes the fluid level is just low. But sometimes there is a reason, such as a leak. You can often tell if you have a leak by simply checking your garage floor. Transmission fluid is red, and a significant leak will leave marks under where your car is usually parked. If you notice these spots and transmission slipping symptoms, you can be very sure there is a leak. In that case, have an expert take a look.

So, should you continue driving with any of these transmission issues? It’s not recommended. If it’s bad enough, your vehicle could be quite unsafe. You don’t want your vehicle unexpectedly changing gears at random moments. It’s dangerous and could end up causing extensive damage to your engine.

Be sure to have your transmission checked out by the experts. We here at Key Transmission and Gears have over 20 years of experience working on transmissions. We have the knowledge necessary to get you safely back on the road again. Give us a call today and don’t risk driving with transmission issues.

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