The clutch release bearing sometimes referred to as a throw-away bearing, is an essential component that is often only in use while the clutch is in motion. When you suffer a bad throwout bearing, it can affect the locking and shift quality of other clutch components and may cause the failure of both the clutch and transmission. In this guide, we look at how a poorly manufactured clutch can affect your car's driveability.
Badly-made clutch release bearings are typically caused by poor manufacture or bad welding. Badly-made throw-outs tend to work poorly in many circumstances, including when attempting to shift gears, apply driving force through the clutch, or when engaging and disengaging the clutch. Grinding errors in a clutch are especially common in manual transmissions. Grinding errors cause friction between the shifting elements and the bearing bush, reducing the effective life of the bearing and greatly reducing the overall efficiency of your clutch gear.
Badly-made clutch release bearings often come with wear indicators in the form of grinding lines and scorching rings. In addition to the above indications of poor construction, often there will be little or no engagement on the shift gears themselves. These gears are supposed to engage with the bearing before the clutch engages, but with poor design, this doesn't always happen. A poor design can also result in a shift that can be detected only upon complete disengagement of the car – whereupon the clutch has failed completely. Incorrect shifting can be detected with a slinging or popping noise when the gears engaged and disengaged.
If your car uses a conventional transmission system, you're highly likely to have a poorly-designed throw out bearing. These can be quite expensive to replace, so it's important that you pay attention to the proper lubrication properties before purchasing a new one. You should also be aware that the best working fluid for a clutch is water, as any synthetic lubricant will simply interfere with the transmission system's special lubrication properties. The recommended fluid for a clutch in this situation is hydraulic oil.
It's possible for a clutch to fail in a non-Mazda vehicle, especially if the wheels are not properly balanced. This makes a lot of sense: if the tires are too high, under-inflated or have uneven wear on the center belt, it's very easy for the wheels to twist while the car is being driven. A similar problem can arise if the wheels aren't properly balanced on the transmission – the result is that the gears will slip, which then can lead the car to accelerate or decelerate at inappropriate rates. In either case, a good way to prevent either from happening is to ensure that the wheels are properly balanced. If they aren't, an anti-skid washer fluid can be used to help level them out (this process can be assisted by a transfer case adjustment tool), thus preventing damage to the transmission and, hopefully, the wheels.
It's possible to tell whether the clutch is engaged or disengaged from the transmission when you press down on the clutch pedal, but there isn't an audible or visual way to know which one it is. To be able to tell when the clutch is disengaged, you should feel two clutch pedal vibrations coming into the car: one from each side. When you look at your dashboard, you'll see two lines going down the center of your shifter – one pointing to each side. If you feel no vibrations, then the clutch is engaged and you should keep driving.