Your car's clutch is essential to smooth driving, and once it becomes worn down or damaged, can negatively affect the performance of your vehicle and make it more difficult to switch gears. This can be a serious safety hazard, and should be addressed as soon as possible to reduce the risk of an accident. Thankfully, there are a number of warning signs for a failing clutch that you can keep your eye out for.

Soft Clutch

If your clutch feels soft or spongy when you push down on it, it may have become worn down. While this does not pose an immediate problem, over time you will need to let your clutch out more and more before it catches, which can make it much harder to switch gears quickly and efficiently and reduces the amount of control that you have over your vehicle. A soft clutch is a good early warning sign, and you should head to a mechanic as soon as possible.

Burning Smells

A burning smell that occurs when you engage the clutch occurs when your clutch has worn down a more significant amount, and is caused by the friction of the clutch slipping in the transmission. Not only does this wear down the clutch even more, it can cause damage to your transmission and engine by not shifting gears quickly enough.

Shaking and Slipping

Shaking and grinding when shifting are a sure sign of a severely worn down clutch. This is also accompanied by a slipping clutch, which occurs when the clutch has worn down so that there is very little material left, allowing the clutch to disengage with very slight pressure to the clutch pedal. If either shaking or slipping occur, but especially together, it usually means that your clutch is very near the end of its lifespan and should be replaced as soon as possible.


If your clutch is sticking, which is when the pedal won't disengage the clutch (or requires a great deal of effort to do so), there may be a problem with your clutch itself. This goes beyond wear – this is usually because of a damaged component, such as the hydraulic lines or pressure plate within the clutch. As such, you should have a mechanic take a look right away, as these damaged or improperly functioning components can cause your clutch to fail suddenly, making it much harder for you to keep your vehicle under control while driving.

To learn more, contact a company like Gordie's