Well, what do you do to give an indication to your truck that you want to change gears? The answer is obviously that you push the clutch. This clearly simplifies that the clutch is the first and the foremost stage of the transmission of your truck and it is an indispensable part of your vehicle’s gearbox.
Why is clutch important?
Clutch is important for your car or your truck in many ways. Firstly, the clutch is identified to transmit power from the engine to the gearbox. In a practical sense, it breaks down connection between the wheels and the engine. This implies that if you are willing to bring your vehicle to a stop or to slow it down, like you have to either press the clutch or downshift the clutch. Pressing the clutch means you are allowing the engine to run even if the truck is stationary.
Secondly, the clutch allows you to interrupt between the transmission if you are willing to change gears when you are moving. And then when you remove your foot from the clutch, the engine gets connected to the wheels again. The clutch mounted on a truck is actually known as a friction clutch. It runs by way of a fluid or a cable.
Clutches may differ based on their torque capacities. It is obvious that the heavy duty ones need more torque than the smaller ones due to It’s higher momentum.
There are about five major parts in a clutch kit, namely- Pressure plate, clutch or friction disc, flywheel and the throw out bearing and the releasing system.
Parts in a clutch kit –
If you are driving a manual transmission car, you may find more than one clutch and you may get surprised. And meanwhile, people come to a conclusion that cars are having clutches with the automatic transmission. But there are clutches in several things you actually use or see every day. Many cordless drills even have a clutch, some chain saws too have a centrifugal one and some yo-yos even do have a clutch.
A clutch is useful in a device having two rotating shafts. In such devices, one shaft is driven by a pulley or a motor and the other one drives the other device. In case of a drill, one of the shafts is driven by a motor and the other one drives a drill chuck. Clutches connect the two shafts in order to either lock them together while spinning at the same speed or to decouple them while spinning at the different speeds.
In a vehicle like car, you need a clutch probably because the engine has the function of spinning all the time while the wheels of the car do not spin. So, in order to stop a car without letting the engine kill, the wheels are required to get disconnected from the engine anyhow. Here, the clutch allows it to smoothly engage with a spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by having a control of slippage between them.
Knowing a little bit about friction helps us to understand about how a clutch works. This is because of the reason that friction is a measure of how hard does an object need to slide over the other. So basically, a clutch works due to friction caused between a flywheel and a clutch plate.
How does it work?
Talking about the clutch plates, friction and flywheels, we will see how all of them works. If we talk about the clutch of a car, the flywheel gets connected to the engine and a clutch plate gets connected to the transmission. When you put your feet off the pedal, the springs start pushing the pressure plate against the clutch disc which further presses against the flywheel in turn. Hence, this process locks the engine with the transmission input shaft, which causes them to spin at the same speed.
Clutch can hold a certain amount of force and this force depends on the friction caused between the flywheel and the clutch plate and also on the force which the spring put on the pressure plate. This frictional force in the clutch works just the way block does.
How does a clutch work – how does it engage and release?
When the pedal of a clutch is pressed, a hydraulic piston gets pushed on the release fork, which in turn presses the throw out bearing against middle of diaphragm spring. The moment when the middle of the diaphragm spring gets pushed in, there is a series of pins close to the outside of the spring which causes the spring to pull on the pressure plate away from the clutch disc. This in return makes the clutch release from the spinning engine.
The spring in the clutch plate help in isolating the transmission from the clutch engaging shock. This design works in a fine way but does have some of the drawbacks as well.
Common drawbacks of a clutch and more of its uses
Some of the common problems include-
Since the 1950s till the 1970s it is counted to be around 50 to 70 thousand miles from a car’s clutch. Clutches are known to last for more than about 80 thousand miles if you are using them in a gentle way and maintaining it quite well. But if they are not taken care of, the clutches may start to break down at only about 35 thousand miles. And the trucks having a constant overloading function may face problems with even relatively new clutches.
One of the most common problems with clutch is that it’s friction part of the disc wears out.
The frictional part on the clutch is quite similar to the frictional part of the pads of a disc brake or shoes or a drum brake and then it wears away after a while. Hence, as a result the clutch starts slipping off due to absence of friction and eventually it will not be able to transmit any power from engine to the wheels.
If the clutch and the flywheel spins at different speeds, the clutch wears out. But if they are locked together, the frictional part of clutch gets held tightly against the fly wheel and they start spinning in sync. It happens only when the clutch disc spins against the flywheel that the wearing out process of the clutch takes place. So, you need to make sure not to slip your clutch a lot otherwise your clutch will wear out a lot more faster and very frequently.
Sometimes the problem also persists because of sticking. If the clutch of your vehicle will not be releasing in a proper way, it will then continue to turn on the input shaft, which in turn may cause grinding or it will rather completely prevent your vehicle from getting into gear. Common reasons of a clutch getting stuck, are- broken or a stretched clutch cable, defective or a leaky slave or master clutch cylinders, air inside the hydraulic line, misadjusted linkage, mismatched components of clutch or a ‘hard’ clutch may also be one of the reasons of the problem. Clutches need some quantity of force for getting depressed fully. But if you have to press the pedal a bit harder, then there is definitely something wrong in the clutch. These may include the cross shaft, pedal linkage, cable or pivot ball, which are considered as common causes. At times, a blockage or worn seals inside the hydraulic system may also cause a hard clutch.
Types of clutches-
There are several types of clutches namely- an air conditioning compressor containing a clutch, an engine driven cooling fan consisting of a thermostatically controlled viscous clutch, limited slip differentials, gas powered chain saws having centrifugal clutches, etc.
An automatic transmission consists of several clutches. Those clutches engage and disengage a varied set of planetary gears. Each and every clutch is put into motion with the use of pressurised hydraulic fluid. And when the pressure starts dropping, springs start causing the clutch to release. Splines, evenly spaced ridges, are determined to line up the inside and outside of the clutch to lock into gears and even the clutch housing. An air conditioning compressor in any car consists of an electromagnetic clutch, which allows the compressor to shut off even when the engine is running. And when the current flows through a magnetic coil in the clutch, the clutch starts engaging. But the moment current stops, i.e; when you turn off the air conditioning system of your car, the clutch starts to disengage.
Most of the cars have an engine driven cooling fan, having a thermostatically controlled viscous clutch, where the temperature of fluid is responsible for driving the clutch. And the clutch is at a position- hub of the fan. This kind of clutch is more or less like the viscous coupling at times found in all wheel drive cars. The fluid in the vehicle starts getting thicker when it heats up and hence, causes the fan to spin even more faster in order to catch up with the rotation of engine.
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