So…How Does The Clutch Pedal Work Anyways?

Your favorite transmission option is more complex than you’d expect.

This video may have hit YouTube just hours before 2017 gave way to 2018, but it’s a clip that was needed long before this modern era where manual transmissions are dissolving from auto lineups faster than ice caps are receding from the poles. Nevertheless, it pays to know this stuff, if anything to impress your other car buddies by actually describing how our second favorite pedal in a car (the throttle being first of course) works and why it’s so important.

YouTube channel Learn Engineering breaks it down for us using colorful diagrams, misspelled captions, and a clear slow-talking narrator. As one might imagine, the interior of a transmission is a complex network of gears that have the job of manipulating the engine’s torque input and spitting out something the wheels can handle.

To protect those delicate gears, the flow of power from the engine to the transmission has to be discontinued during the transition, which is where the clutch pedal becomes useful. In simple terms, the clutch pedal uses hydraulic pressure to disengage the clutch plate from the flywheel. A diaphragm spring serves as the mechanical device that pushes the two apart, but other complexities like springs built into the clutch are included in order to dampen the power flow changes and make the transition feel smooth to both the driver and engine mounts. These complex parts help make things like a hill start possible without grenading the entire transmission.

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