December 05, 2022
Why does a clutch smell like burning?
Car service

Do you want to know why does a clutch smell like burning? If yes, read this article.

The clutch in your car is an important component for efficient functioning, and as car owners, we must keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear in the clutch. There aren’t any rules specifying when to replace it, so the repair or replacement process isn’t as straightforward as visiting a garage and ordering a new tyre. The lifespan of your clutch depends entirely on how you drive and the conditions in which you drive. The life of a clutch can range from 25,000 to 100,000 miles.

Sometimes while driving a car, you may notice a burning smell coming out of your car. This smell is similar to burning rubber. It is a sign of trouble in your clutch and needs to be addressed. It indicates that the clutch is burnt and needs replacement. In this article, we will discuss clutch burning.

How does a Clutch Work?

Two hydraulic elements, typically axles, can be linked and detached with the help of a clutch. The clutch connects the motor to the drivetrain with a manual gearbox. The clutch enables the transmission and engine to be separated, allowing the vehicle to be put into drive or rest.

The hydraulic ring gear and the gear disc are the two major components of the clutch. The crankshaft, which is attached to the motor, is where the hydraulic gear plate is fastened.

Is it normal to smell burning from the clutch?

If the clutch emits a burning stench, it has burnt out and needs to be replaced and the same is not normal. If the smell is too bad and hits your nose, it confirms that the clutch plate is slipping more than average. The burning on the surface of the plate may lead to the glazing of the clutch surface. It will lead to slippage of the clutch plate due to the burning, preventing it from engaging fully.

It causes due to variety of things like a worn-out clutch disk, a problem due to the clutch pressure plate, and low transmission fluid. If your car is slipping, it is advisable to have a check at the nearest car repair shop. Some of the reasons why your clutch plate is burning are listed below:

  • Normal wear and tear of the clutch disc due to time.
  • When the clutch linkage is misaligned, the throw-out bearing has no room for free play.
  • Reckless and poor driving.
  • Overheating due to excessive use of the clutch

What should I do if I smell the clutch burning?

When the clutch is burning, the time has come for clutch disc replacement. Apart from the clutch disc, the mechanic must also deal with other things to address the concern. Removal of the manual transmission is required to inspect the clutch components. The pressure plate also needs to be checked to assess if it’s affected or not. The flywheel also needs inspection for hot spots and warpage.

Most of the time, clutch repairs require a complete kit with a replacement clutch disc, a new pressure plate, a pilot bearing, and a thrust bearing. All the damaged parts must be replaced with new ones. Or else you may face another clutch burnout shortly.

How do you know your clutch is burned out?

The telltale sign of the burnt clutch is the foul smell. Getting a foul odour regularly indicates that the foot pedal has burned.

Given below are a few indications that will help you:

After shifting or deviating, there is a foul odour. 

The friction material on the disc overheats and rubs towards the rotating axle as the clutch burns out. It is because the pressure plate does not fully engage the clutch disc. The ball bearings cause the burning clutch stench as it erodes.

Upon shifting gears, the engine vibrates violently.

The jerking of the engine is another symptom of a burning clutch. When the scorched gear tries to grab the axle, it slips. The vibrations depend on how you handle the pedals while driving a car. It’s a standard feature to take your other foot off the steering wheel when driving.

When the release pedal is pushed, the brake pedal disc is moved away from the wheel, which serves as the gear shift. When you release the clutch pedal, it allows the engine to maintain the clutch disc and cannot grip the flywheel properly.

Higher Engine RPMs Abruptly When Heavy or Heading up

An engine may jerk due to a burning clutch. It is because of the friction material on the clutch disc, which is nearly worn away and has become scorched and glossy in appearance.

The motor axle produces greater horsepower than usual while the engine is under strain, making the lack of grip more evident. This raises the risk of combustion and places more force on the flywheel clutch connection.

The Shaft is Tough

Selecting a gear may be difficult if the clamp is scorched. It mostly occurs because the rotor doesn’t always completely disengage from the damaged gearbox. In addition to making revs challenging, it increases engine attrition since it partially interacts with the rotor.

Weird Sounds When Shifting Gears

A burned circuit might lead to trouble while shifting gears. Excess damaged parts don’t function smoothly. When you change gears, it triggers a series of sounds. A scorched ring gear will also cause difficulty while shifting gears smoothly.

The pedal feels stiffer or gentler than expected.

A burnt clutch will show changes in the gear lever. A burnt ring gear can damage other clutch sections in the long run.

Contamination of parts

It’s not all that common, but it’s also not all that uncommon either: When a fluid (often oil) contacts the clutch disc, it causes contamination and reduces the disc’s lifespan. The hydraulic fluid that powers your clutch cylinders is one fluid that can contaminate your clutch, but a faulty rear main seal is frequently the issue. If the installation isn’t done correctly, the grease could also end up on your clutch surface.

While spinning the wheels of your car at a rapid speed

If you like to flaunt your wheelspins, you frequently scent burnt clutch. And if you’ve been doing it frequently, the stench will continue to be there even when you drive normally.

The stench suggests that you are driving poorly and will likely rev your engine excessively when you begin from a stop. The clutch eventually wears out. If the stench appears after backing out of a parking space, going uphill, or just travelling a short distance, you need to improve your driving techniques.

How long does the smell of a burnt clutch last?

The burning smell could linger there for a long period of time, depending on how frequently you drive and how badly you burn the clutch.


Your car’s clutch is essential as it ensures it runs smoothly. The burning smell in the car is a sign of wear and tear in the clutch and needs to be taken care of. From reckless driving to overheating, there are several reasons for the burnt clutch. In case of a burnt clutch, you will have to buy the complete kit to repair the clutch and various other components. There are specific symptoms of a burnt clutch smell. If you notice it, then get it repaired as soon as possible.

Tags: car clutch smell, smell from the car clutch,
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