Clutch Failure In Heavy-Duty Trucks: How To Spot It, And How To Fix It
A heavy-duty truck is a formidable piece of equipment, and all of its components are built to withstand an incredible amount of punishment during long journeys on the open road. However, these components are not invulnerable, and a heavy-duty truck's clutch can be particularly vulnerable to everyday wear and tear.
An average heavy-duty truck clutch can have as many as 18 gears, so it's no surprise that a component with so many moving parts can suffer from a wide variety of mechanical problems. Fortunately, truck clutches that have malfunctioned or are on the verge of failing usually create some very noticeable symptoms.
How can I tell if a heavy-duty truck's clutch is malfunctioning?
Stiff clutch pedal
In heavy-duty trucks with manual transmissions, a stiff clutch pedal that is difficult or impossible to depress fully can be an easy-to-spot sign of imminent clutch failure. You should also be concerned if the clutch pedal fails to rise back to its normal position when you remove your foot. Worn clutch cables, blocked transmission fluid lines and binding gears are just some of the clutch problems that can cause this symptom.
Slipping when shifting gears
When a clutch cannot effectively transfer engine power to and from your truck's wheels and transmission box, this is known as a slipping clutch. A slipping clutch can manifest in a number of ways -- the engine may rev too high while your shift gears, acceleration after shifting gears can be noticeably muted and you may even notice a burning smell when you try to change gears.
Driving with a slipping clutch can be dangerous, and can also put a serious dent in a truck's fuel economy. In many cases, this problem can be fixed by replacing the clutch's friction plate, but other, more serious mechanical problems may be causing or exacerbating the problem.
Unusual noises when shifting gears
The enormous clutch of an average heavy-duty truck is not exactly a sleek, quiet component, but you should be concerned if it is making unusually loud noises while shifting gears. Grinding or high-pitched screeching noises are particularly worrying, as they may signify that the clutch's gripping mechanism has failed and needs to be replaced.
What should I do if I experience any of these clutch problems?
The sheer complexity of a heavy-duty truck's clutch can make them very difficult to repair when things go wrong -- every problem has a number of potential causes, many of which are buried deep within the clutch's integral mechanisms.
As such, taking the stricken truck to a professional truck repair service is always the smartest option. Professional truck repair mechanics have the specialised tools and knowledge necessary to diagnose and repair almost any clutch problem. They can also replace a clutch that is beyond repair quickly and efficiently, getting your truck back on the road and earning money as quickly as possible.