It’s not unusual or unexpected for your car to develop odd noises. Though the noise is annoying, it’s your car’s way of telling you something is wrong. One problem you’re likely to encounter is a squeaking clutch pedal.
Causes for a clutch pedal squeaking include a worn clutch disc, friction, dirt contamination in the transmission, a faulty throw-out bearing, and a damaged pilot bearing. The fixes for these include lubrication, cleaning, and replacing the clutch disc.
Sometimes, the squeaking clutch may have multiple causes. Before fixing the problem, you need to be certain that you have identified the primary cause. This article will look at the causes in detail and the possible solutions.
1. Worn Clutch Disc
The clutch is used almost as much as the brake and accelerator. However, it’s the only pedal pressed all the way down and released frequently. If you drive on rough terrains often, your clutch will wear out even faster. One of the signs of a worn clutch disc is a squeaky sound.
Other signs that signify a worn clutch disc include:
- The pungent odor of clutch dust
- Excessive dust from below the car
- A weird engine sound when you release the clutch
Sometimes, it’s easy to assume the problem is the clutch disc. However, a faulty throw-out bearing also causes a squeaky sound when you press or release the clutch. It’s important to find the reason behind the squeaky sound, or you’ll still have a problem to solve.
How to Fix It
If the clutch is worn, you may need to replace it. This can be costly, so you must first confirm the problem isn’t with the throw-out bearing to ensure that you are replacing the right part.
This video shows some of the possible causes of a squeaking clutch pedal and the way to fix it.
2. Clutch Slipping
The clutch is one of the moveable parts of the car, and sometimes it can shift slightly from the right position. The clutch depends on friction to engage and disengage. Sometimes the clutch slips when there’s no material to hold it in place.
The change in the clutch position isn’t enough to cause it to fail to work or even be considered dangerous. However, it’ll start rubbing against other parts, usually the clutch fork, causing a squealing sound whenever you press or release the clutch.
Other causes of clutch slipping include:
- Bent, damaged, or misaligned clutch linkage.
- Contamination of the clutch assembly by leaking transmission or engine oil.
- Broken motor mounts.
- Weakened or warped pressure plate.
Besides the squealing sound, you can tell the clutch has slipped if the car moves slowly when you release the clutch and accelerate the vehicle. A higher engine rev may accompany this sudden change in your car’s behavior. The clutch may also release faster with minimal or no pressure.
How to Fix It
You’ll need a mechanic to confirm the clutch has slipped and determine the cause. They’ll be able to reposition your clutch and lubricate the joints.
Replacing the weakened pressure plate, damaged clutch linkage, or broken motor mounts may also be a solution.
3. Dirt Contamination
Sometimes the squealing from the clutch is a result of contamination. After a while, dirt and grease can build up in the engine and stick to the parts supporting the clutch. This may affect the movement of the pedal, causing it to stick a little and squeak when you press or release it.
How to Fix It
The area around the clutch should be cleaned to remove the dust and grease build-up. Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy task, so you need a mechanic. The transmission should also be inspected and cleaned. Otherwise, the problem is likely to recur if you don’t get to the root of the problem.
When inspecting the car, you can tell if contamination is the problem by looking at the clutch housing. If it’s clean, then the cause of the squeak may not be contamination. Whereas, if it’s oily or appears to be cracked, then dirt contamination may be the problem.
Your mechanic will fix the source of dirt and clean the dirt build-up to reduce the tension that causes the clutch to squeak. If the housing is cracked, it’ll need to be replaced to prevent future contamination.
If you know your way around the engine and the clutch, you can use WD 40 Lubricant to lubricate parts that may cause the clutch to stick and squeak. It’ll also help to loosen the dirt for faster cleaning and prevent rust build-up.
This video gives ideas of possible causes of a squeaking clutch pedal. It also goes further to discuss other sounds, the causes, and fixes:
4. Faulty Throw-Out Bearing
A faulty throw-out bearing (clutch release bearing) is often due to normal wear and tear. If left unchecked, the throw-out bearing will damage the clutch and, ultimately, the transmission.
When you engage the clutch, the throw-out bearing presses against the pressure plate’s release levers, which in turn press the pressure plate’s spring. Once you change the gears, the bearing returns to its normal position.
The throw-out bearing is important because it ensures the engine disengages from the wheels when you change gears. When it returns to the start position, the engine and wheels are reconnected. If the faulty throw-out bearing is not identified early enough, your car will eventually stall and break down.
When the throw-out bearing wears down, the drivers start rubbing against one another, resulting in the squeaking sound when you press the clutch. The culprit is likely a faulty throw-out bearing if the sound stops when you release the clutch.
Other signs of a faulty throw-out bearing include;
- A stiff clutch pedal
- Vibrating clutch pedal when you engage it
- Difficulty when changing the gears
One way to confirm if the throw-out bearing is the problem, shift the gear to neutral while pressing down the clutch. If the clutch is squeaking, then the throw-out bearing is the problem.
The following reasons may be behind the faulty throw-out bearing.
- Normal wear and tear.
- Pressure plate misalignment results in uneven wear of the throw-out bearing.
- Regularly changing gears at the wrong time. If you change gears when the engine revolutions per minute (rpm) are high, the throw-out bearing wears out quickly. The ideal rpm during normal acceleration is 2000 – 2500rpm. If speeding, the ideal rpm for changing gears is 3,000.
How to Fix It
The solution to a worn throw-out bearing is to replace it. You may be able to drive your car with a faulty one, but you’ll experience some difficulty changing the gears before long, and ultimately, the transmission will be damaged.
5. Damaged Pilot Bearing
Unfortunately, it’s easy to mistake the damaged pilot bearing for a faulty throw-out bearing and vice versa. Both bearings, when faulty, will cause the clutch to squeak. However, you can still tell the bearing is failing by being more observant.
For example, if you still hear a noise when you shift the gear to neutral with the clutch fully engaged, the problem is likely a faulty throw-out bearing. If there’s no noise, the pilot bearing is the problem.
The pilot-bearing is responsible for the engine crankshaft and transmission input shaft rotating at different speeds when the clutch is disengaged. A damaged pilot bearing will cause the clutch to squeak when completely engaged and disengaged.
When the damaged pilot starts failing, the input shaft goes off-center. The transmission input shaft then moves erratically inside the transmission, causing it to pop out of gear.
Other signs of a damaged pilot bearing include;
- Vibrations when you press the clutch.
- Failure to release the clutch.
- Transmission failure.
- The transmission will also pop out of gear.
Some of these signs show up when the condition of the pilot bearing becomes worse. The squeaky clutch sound is a sign the pilot bearing is damaged. You may also experience difficulty changing the gear to reverse or the first gear when the car has stopped.
How to Fix It
A damaged pilot bearing will need to be removed and replaced to fix the squeaking clutch. The transmission and clutch kit have to be removed to get to the pilot bearing. This requires a mechanic with the expertise to pull it out of the engine’s crankshaft.
It’s best to diagnose and identify the cause when you first hear the squeaking clutch. Any delays may result in more damage to other parts, which will prove costly in the long term.
A squeaking clutch pedal is a sign that something is wrong. However, determining the cause may take time and keen observation. You need to know when the clutch squeaks and when it stops. This way, when explaining to your mechanic, he can eliminate possible causes and narrow the search to the most likely culprit. However, you need to address the problem early because the problem will get worse if you keep driving with a squeaky clutch.
Related: Why Your Car Won’t Accelerate When You Push the Gas