Any Car With A Manual Transmission Has A Clutch That Connects/Disconnects The Engine And Transmission. Learn How A Normal Automotive Clutch Works And Explore A Variety Of Other Clutches!

935 words - 4 pages

If you drive a manual transmission car, you may be surprised to find out that your car has more than one clutch in it. And it turns out that folks with automatic transmission cars have clutches, too. In fact, there are clutches in many things you probably see or use everyday: Many cordless drills have a clutch, chainsaws have a centrifugal clutch and even some yo-yos have a clutch!Diagram of car showing clutch locationIn this edition of HowStuffWorks, we will learn why you need a clutch, understand how the clutch in your car works, and talk about some interesting and perhaps surprising places where clutches can be found!Why Do We Need Clutches?Clutches are useful in devices with two rotating shafts. In these devices, one of the shafts is typically driven by a motor or pulley, and the other shaft is driving another device. In a drill, for instance, one shaft is driven by a motor and the other is driving a drill chuck. The clutch connects the two shafts so that they can either be locked together and spin at the same speed, or be decoupled and spin at different speeds.Basic clutchIn a car, you need a clutch because the engine spins all the time and the car wheels don't. In order for a car to stop without killing the engine, the wheels need to be disconnected from the engine somehow. The clutch allows us to smoothly engage a spinning engine to a non-spinning transmission by controlling the slippage between them. To understand how a clutch works, it helps to know a little bit about friction.Automobile ClutchIn the figure below, you can see that the flywheel is connected to the engine, and the clutch plate is connected to the transmission.Exploded view of car clutchWhen your foot is off the pedal, the springs push the pressure plate against the clutch disc, which in turn presses against the flywheel. This locks the engine to the transmission input shaft, causing them to spin at the same speed.Photo courtesy Carolina MustangPressure plateThe amount of force the clutch can hold depends on the friction between the clutch plate and the flywheel, and how much force the spring puts on the pressure plate. The friction force in the clutch works just like the blocks in the friction section of How Brakes Work, except that the spring presses on the clutch plate instead of weight pressing the block into the ground.How a clutch engages and releasesWhen the clutch pedal is pressed, a cable or hydraulic piston pushes on the release fork, which presses the throw-out bearing against the middle of the diaphragm spring. As the middle of the diaphragm spring is pushed in, a series of pins near the outside of the spring causes the spring to pull the pressure plate away from the clutch disc (see below). This...

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