Clutches are designed to be robust and can handle the constant engaging and disengaging that comes with each gear change, but they're not fail proof and will eventually wear out. Here's an overview of three signs your clutch is faulty:
If you can press the clutch pedal to the floor with no resistance the master cylinder may have failed. You can check if this is the case by observing if the brake fluid level rises when the clutch pedal is engaged as this is a key sign of a faulty master cylinder. Simply push the clutch pedal to the floor while another person observes the brake fluid reservoir level. Lack of pedal resistance can also indicate a hose leak, so check the hose from the master cylinder to the brake fluid reservoir.
It's normal for clutches to slip when changing gears as this prevents the car from jolting forward and offers protection to the drivetrain, but it shouldn't slip after you've released the clutch pedal. Clutch slippage can damage the flywheel and pressure plate as it generates heat, so address this problem as soon as possible to prevent more damage being done. A worn clutch disc is a common reason for clutch slipping, but you'll have to remove the pressure plate to get a good look at the condition of the disc.
Slipping can also be caused by oil leaking from a bad rear crankshaft seal. You can't see this seal by looking under your car, but if you seem to be losing oil without seeing evidence of a leak when you're parked, a busted rear crankshaft seal could be to blame.
If the clutch is shuddering when engaged the clutch disc may be dirty. This can happen when you have an oil or coolant leak that has contaminated the clutch disc, so check for fluid coming out of the clutch housing or leaks around the back of your car. Alternatively, you may have a damaged flywheel or pressure plate, and the only to establish this is to take the clutch apart and inspect each piece.
Changing clutch components is labour-intensive, so if you have a faulty component it's a good idea to have the whole clutch checked over by a mechanic. This can save you paying to have your clutch stripped back and the current fault repaired only to find out later there's another component that needs replaced. For more tips or assistance, you can contact repair services like Precision Differential & Gearbox Centre.