Do you sometimes get that "disconnected" feeling when you're driving your automobile? You may hear your engine ticking over properly and responding to your instructions when you put your foot on the throttle pedal. However, for some reason this doesn't appear to be translating into forward motion properly. Could your clutch be on the way out?
Is It Your Fault?
The vehicle clutch is a very hard wearing component, which is meant to last for a reasonable amount of time. However, you may be contributing to some issues without even knowing it. Do you have a habit of resting your left foot on top of the clutch pedal? When you do this, the pressure causes the friction plate to move forward and engage very slightly, wearing away a tiny piece of the resin that is attached. It's not a huge problem right away, but it will certainly cause issues over time. Break your habit!
Signs of Impending Failure
When you can hear your engine labouring away but the vehicle is not moving as you would have expected, the clutch mechanism is slipping. This is caused by excess wear and tear and will be most noticeable when you're trying to go up a steep hill. Don't be surprised if the vehicle will slip out of gear altogether as the problem gets worse.
In addition, the clutch plate will eventually wear down so much that metal will start to rub against metal. This will generate a very distinctive burning smell and you may even see a couple of traces of smoke.
Eventually, you will find it very difficult to shift into gear from stationary, or to move from one gear to another when driving. You will be able to depress the clutch pedal all the way to the floor, but will still hear some horrible grinding noises from the gearbox.
The more adventurous weekend mechanics may want to have a look themselves. It's possible to inspect the condition of the clutch by looking through the bell housing, which is at the back of the gearbox. You will have to put the car up on axle stands to do this and should always be careful when crawling underneath.
Engaging a Fix
To change the clutch mechanism, the gearbox will need to be removed. This is usually beyond the scope of the average motorist and you should seek out a transmission repair specialist to help you.