What Are the Signs of a Bad Automatic Clutch Mechanism?

Some people think that an automatic car does not have a clutch mechanism and that the vehicle will change gears magically by itself. Yet there is, of course, a sophisticated clutch mechanism inside the automatic transmission casing and from time to time, this can also fail. How do you know that you are encountering such problems and what could be going wrong?

Looking After Your Transmission

Even though an automatic transmission system is far more complex than a conventional one, they are nevertheless very reliable. You may never run into issues with the automatic clutch during the life of your vehicle, but it's still important to stick to any recommended maintenance schedules provided by your manufacturer. It's also important to treat the system respectfully and not develop bad driving habits. For example, some people shift the lever between drive and reverse before they come to a halt. This is likely to add a lot of strain to the system and could damage the clutch mechanism.

How an Automatic Clutch Works

The clutch mechanism inside an automatic transmission is operated by pressurising hydraulic fluid. The ECU controls the fluid level and pumps through a torque converter to match the engine's speed. When the fluid pressure drops, it releases the springs built into each clutch disc, allowing it to move along a central spline. As part of a sophisticated operation, it will then engage with the most appropriate gear for the expected road condition.

Noticing Signs of a Problem

If things start to go wrong, you may notice several problems. For example, the engine may sound as if it is working hard, but the vehicle is not moving at the appropriate speed. This means that gears are slipping due to a faulty clutch mechanism. Alternatively, you may place your foot on the accelerator while moving away from a traffic light, only to find a strange delay between the application and the result. Again, the automatic clutch may be experiencing issues causing this transmission lag.

As the problem worsens, you may notice a burning smell, which could be overheated transmission fluid. If you remove the dipstick to look at the fluid level, you may also see that it has a dark brown consistency rather than a reddish/pink colour.

Taking Urgent Action

It's essential to act whenever you suspect issues with your automatic clutch system. Prompt action may ensure that you keep repairs to a minimum and avoid a more expensive bill. So, seek out the help of an experienced mechanic at the first signs of a problem.

For more information about transmission repairs, contact a local company.