10 Reasons Why Your Car Clutch is Hard (+Solution)

34% of the light vehicles driven in the world have a manual transmission. As cars with automatic transmission are getting popular day by day, the market share of manual cars is shrinking constantly.

Clutch is the heart and soul of a manual car. At times clutch can become hard and its operation can get difficult. In this article, we’ll cover major reasons for a hard car clutch, why it happens, how to avoid it, fixing costs, and how to fix it yourself.

Reasons Why Your Car Clutch is Hard
Tensioned Clutch CableReplacement/Lubrication$160
Pedal BendReplacement/Repair$50
New Clutch CompatibilityLubrication$10
Failed Clutch Assist SpringReplacement$30
Worn Out Clutch Release BearingReplacement$1,500
Worn Out Drive ShaftReplacement$750
Damaged Pivot BallReplacement$10
Defective Clutch PlateReplacement$200
Low Fluid LevelsChange of fuild$15
Blocked Hydraulic HoseCleaning$40

1. Tensioned Clutch Cable

In cable-based clutch systems, a steel cord is responsible for the transfer of action between the foot pedal and driveshaft. During its operation, this cable is pulled and released over and over again. Due to this pulling and releasing the metal of the cord retains some of the stress. This is also called the residual stress which is the residue of the actual stress applied to the material.

How to Avoid: This residual stress lowers the failure stress of the cord. This means it might fail before the completion of its fatigue failure cycle. There is no way of avoiding this. It is a permanent con of using a cable clutch system. But you can delay the stiffening of the clutch cable by lubricating it well. This way the cable remains flexible for a longer period.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: In case of complete failure, you can do nothing but replace the cable. Changing the clutch cable is a lengthy and tedious process. It will take up to 2-3 hours. It may cost you around $160 for replacing a clutch cable. The labor cost for replacement is $70 and the cable itself costs $90.

Also read: How Long Should Clutch Last? How Much is a New Clutch?

2. Pedal Problems

A lot of things can go wrong with the clutch paddle. Some people have a heavy foot or they accidentally drop something onto the pedal, which might bend or distort it. Even the slightest of misalignment in the paddle can make it hard for you to press the clutch. Another reason can be a blockage behind the pedal. Sometimes a kid’s toy or a broken hardware piece is tangled with the pedal, which makes the paddling harder.

How to Avoid: You cannot do anything about the blocked things. You can only remove those after finding out. But you can avoid bending the pedal by applying gentle pressure on it. A slight change in your driving pattern can go a long way in saving your clutch pedal.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: You can straighten the small bends of the pedal by gentle stroking. But if it is beyond repair you need to replace it. It is very simple to replace it you can do it yourself. A pedal might cost you between $10 and 15. A mechanic will charge you $50 for a pedal replacement.

Also read: 5 Reasons Why Europeans Hate Automatic Transmission

3. Newly Installed Clutch

Newly installed hardware can take some time to adjust. The same is the case with the clutch. If you have just installed a new clutch you might feel it is harder than usual. This may also happen due to compatibility issues.

How to Avoid: Whenever you replace a clutch make sure you replace it with the right one. To avoid a hard clutch always adequately lubricate associated parts.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: You can purchase a clutch lubricant for $5 to 10. Apply it at regular intervals after the clutch replacement, hopefully, the hard clutch will become soft soon.

4. Failed Clutch Assist Spring

There is a small spring attached to the rear of the clutch pedal. This spring is responsible for retracting the pedal after it has been depressed. It also removes the play at the top of the clutch. Sometimes this spring might break or go missing. The absence of this spring can cause a hard clutch.

How to Avoid: Use higher quality clutch assist springs that are less prone to failure.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: Sometimes the spring is off the hook and you simply need to attach it back. If it is broken or missing, a new spring will cost you $20 to $30. You can easily replace it by yourself. However, a mechanic will charge around $20 for this service.

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5. Worn Out Clutch Release Bearing

A clutch release bearing is attached at the end of the drive shaft. Once the transmission is engaged, this bearing is responsible for the transfer of power between engine and transmission. With the passage of time, this bearing is worn out. A worn-out bearing can cause clinking sounds as well. It is a symptom that clutch release bearing is close to failure and needs replacing.

How to Avoid: There is no way of avoiding it as all mechanical components wear out after some time.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: Replacement of clutch release bearing is a very delicate process, requiring a highly skilled mechanic. It is an extremely costly part. Its prices are in the range of $500 and $1000. A mechanic will charge $300 for this service.

Also read: 3 Things Happening if You Keep Driving with a Bad Clutch

6. Worn Out Drive Shaft

The driveshaft is not a direct part of the clutch system. Rather it is an associated part. It is the medium of power transfer between engine output and transmission. If you are driving on a worn-out driveshaft then you are likely to experience a hard clutch.

How to Avoid: Again as with the wearing of other parts you cannot do anything about it. It has to wear out sooner or later. But you can delay the wearing of the driveshaft with proper lubrication.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: Replacement of the driveshaft demands a highly skilled mechanic, who may charge up to $300. The cost of the driveshaft can vary between $300 and $450.

7. Damaged Pivot Ball

The pivot ball is specially designed to assist in the smooth functioning of the clutch. It makes it easier on the foot to press the clutch and release it. If this pivot ball is damaged, you’ll feel a stiffer clutch that is harder to press down.

How to Avoid: You should avoid a loose pivot ball in order to avoid its failure. A loosely attached pivot ball is more likely to fail in comparison to one that is tightly bound.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: Replacement of pivot ball is quite cheap. A mechanic will charge you $10 including the pivot ball. But you can replace it yourself also.

Also read: Manual or Automatic- which Transmission Last Longer?

8. Defective Clutch Plate

A clutch plate is the most primary part of the clutch system. A failed or worn-out clutch plate can adversely affect the whole system. You will feel these negative effects in the form of a hard clutch.

How to Avoid: Proper lubrication is the key to avoid wearing out of all mechanical components.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: Clutch plate is a core engine component and you must visit a mechanic to replace it. Replacing a clutch plate can cost you $200. $100 for part replacement and $100 in labor cost.

9. Low Fluid Levels

There are two types of clutch systems. One is cable-based and the others are hydraulic clutch systems. In hydraulic systems, fluid levels are of great importance. If you have low fluid levels then the clutch will become hard.

How to Avoid: Check clutch fluid at regular intervals to avoid hard clutch due to this reason.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: It is quite easy to refill the clutch fluid. You can purchase it for $15 at any online store and use it according to your need.

10. Blocked Hydraulic Hose

In a hydraulic clutch system, the fluid transfer takes place through a series of hoses and joints. If any of these hoses are blocked then sufficient pressure is not created. As a result, you will feel that the pressing of the clutch is becoming harder and harder.

How to Avoid: This can happen when you don’t use your car for extended periods. Hence, always use your car once in a while.

Replacement/Repair/Rectification: A blocked hydraulic hose needs cleaning. You can clean it yourself but consulting a mechanic is recommended. As it is difficult to reconnect these hoses. This service can cost you $30 to 50.

Also read: Should You Press Clutch While Braking (Easily Explained)

How Long Can You Drive with Hard Clutch?

You can drive with a hard clutch for months or few days depending upon the issue. If you have a worn-out clutch release bearing, driveshaft, clutch plate, pivot ball, low fluid levels, or pedal problems in general then there is nothing to worry about, you can drive for few weeks. But if you have a tensioned clutch cable then it is recommended to fix it immediately.

Things are uncertain with a tensioned clutch cable since it can break at any time and cause you unnecessary trouble. However, on the other side, problems like worn-out clutch release bearing, driveshaft, and clutch plate can linger on for a while as there is no danger of immediate breakdown. It may take weeks or months for these parts to wear out completely.

Still, in both cases, it is recommended to get your hard car clutch fixed at the earliest. The reason is that clutch isn’t an isolated part rather it is a whole system. If one part goes off, the working of others gets affected too.

Is it Dangerous to Drive with Hard Clutch?

At times it can be very dangerous to drive with a hard car clutch. While driving on highways a sudden failure of the clutch cable or breakage of a linkage can cause immense damage. Not only that, it is unsafe as well. These broken parts can fly off into the linked transmission system and cause a jam. At higher speeds, a jam or bad gear can lead to a severe accident.

Driving with a bad clutch inside the city area at lower speeds isn’t that dangerous. Still, you should not tread lightly on this line as the clutch isn’t the only part at stake here. Your whole transmission system that is worth thousands of dollars is on verge of a breakdown. A hard car clutch is only a symptom, you should address the issues related to it immediately.


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