Manual transmissions continue to hold a strong appeal for a certain subset of car owners. These car owners cite a greater sense of control and better gas mileage as two appealing features of a manual transmission. Of course, along with such benefits, manual transmissions bring their own set of potential problems as well.
Fortunately, you can catch many such problems before they grow too severe by educating yourself about the parts of your manual clutch system. One of the most important — and most overlooked — manual transmission components goes by the name of the throwout bearing. This article outlines two key things to know about your clutch's throwout bearing.
1. Throwout Bearings Transfer Pressure
The clutch pedal allows you to temporarily disengage your engine from your transmission in order to shift from one gear to another. This seemingly simple task requires the close coordination of many different components. Each component plays a key role in transforming the pressure your foot exerts on the clutch pedal into physical movement within the clutch.
Key clutch components include the flywheel, the clutch disk, the pressure plate, and the throwout bearing. The last of these components — the throwout bearing — lies at the proverbial heart of your clutch system. There it transfers pressure from the clutch pedal, allowing the transmission to successfully break its contact with the engine.
When you depress your clutch pedal, the throwout bearing physically advances toward the flywheel. This movement creates contact with the release fingers of the pressure plate. This contact, in turn, causes the pressure plate to move away from the clutch disk and thus interrupt the flow of power.
When you release the clutch pedal, the throwout bearing retreats from the release fingers. This reterat allows the clutch disk flywheel to come into contact. Power can once again flow from engine to transmission.
2. Riding Your Clutch Wears Down the Throwout Bearing
Most people who drive manual cars have been warned at some point about the perils of riding the clutch — that is, keeping the clutch pedal pressed down even when not actively changing gears. Many write off such warnings as having little to no practical bearing on the health of their car. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to premature failure of your throwout bearing.
As explained above, depressing your clutch pedal causes the throwout bearing to come into contact with the pressure plate — and specifically with the pressure plate's release fingers. This contact causes the throwout bearing to rotate at the same speed as the transmission. Over time, such rotation causes wear on the surface of the bearing, causing it to become rough and abraded.
Eventually, such movement will wear down the throwout bearing to the point that it can no longer accomplish its given task. The more time you spend with your foot on the clutch, the more quickly this process will happen. As the wear grows greater, the throwout bearing will begin to give off unusual whirring, grinding, and/or whining sounds when you press down your clutch.
The location of a throwout bearing makes it difficult to replace without dismantling your entire clutch assembly. For this reason, drivers should make a point not to ride the clutch excessively. Responsible clutch use will help to prolong the life span of your throwout bearing.
Anybody who owns a car with a manual transmission can benefit from a more thorough knowledge of its internal components. If you believe your transmission needs a new throwout bearing, consider saving money by purchasing a used replacement. For more information, please contact the used-auto-part pros at John's Famous Auto Parts.