Last updated: June 24, 2021 at 8:04 am
Anyone who drives a car will tell you, over time, they tend to develop the odd annoying noise. Often, it’s a rattling sound that can be very hard to pin down.
Most of us learn to tune it out, but some noises we shouldn’t. One of those is a squeak from the clutch pedal. It’s not necessarily a big issue, but it’s most definitely annoying.
In this article:
We’ll go over the most common reasons the clutch pedal is squeaky and how to fix it.
How to Check if the Squeak Is From the Clutch
The first thing you need to establish is if the noise is coming from your clutch and, if so, at what point in the clutch’s movement. So here’s what to do:
- Ensure your handbrake is on. Switch on the ignition and keep the car in neutral
- Leave the engine running, and don’t touch any of the pedals just yet. Listen closely and see if there’s a noise sounding like a low growl. If you can’t hear anything unusual, proceed to step three. If you have heard this noise, it’s likely to be a problem with the transmission. This is a problem you should have fixed at a garage
- Partially press down the clutch pedal but do not put the car in gear. Listen once again for noises. till nothing? Move on to step four. If you hear a telltale high-pitched squeak, then you know there is a clutch problem. If you hear this sort of noise, it points at issues with the throw-out bearings or the clutch release
- Completely press the clutch pedal to the floor. Start listening for the squealing noise again. If you only hear it as the pedal reaches the floor, this points to a problem with the bushing or pilot bearing.
If you don’t hear any noise when carrying out these steps, then the squeaking isn’t coming from your clutch.
Your clutch pedal gets as much work as the brake and accelerator, but it’s the only pedal that is fully pressed and released every single time. With time, it will be susceptible to wear and tear and may start to squeak.
Your engine is a dirty place, and dust and grease can build up easily. This dirt causes the pedal to stick a little and not move smoothly.
If dirt, oil, or other contaminants find their way onto the pressure plate or the clutch disc, they can cause the clutch to squeak when it’s pressed and released. Both elements are found inside the transmission.
Faulty throw-out bearing
This is the part that contacts the pressure plate when disengaging the clutch. You will also find this inside the clutch’s transmission.
The clutch gets a lot of use, and sometimes the parts can shift slightly. It’s not enough for the clutch not to work or be dangerous, but it can cause parts to rub against each other and squeak. The clutch fork (a lever that the clutch pushes into the gearbox) is often the culprit.
4 Ways to Fix a Squeaky Clutch Pedal
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Most of these problems are very easily fixed. They just need a good application of lubricant to get the pivot points of the clutch moving smoothly again. There are various types of grease you can use to do this, and some people just use WD-40. Many car owners report excellent results with white lithium grease when lubricating the clutch, however. There are a couple of drawbacks, though.
Firstly, it contains petroleum distillates which can cause anything made of rubber to perish. There are many rubber hoses and parts in an engine, so you have to be careful when applying the grease to keep it confined to the clutch only and clean your hands before touching anything. Secondly, some brands apparently do not smell good. Some users mention having to leave the doors in their car open for a couple of days to allow the smell to air out. If either of these drawbacks put you off, then a silicone-based lubricant will work too.
Whichever lubricant you pick, the biggest issue will be getting the grease to the right spot. As few of us have an inspection pit handy, getting into the clutch can be awkward. We can spray carefully into the slot where the clutch pedal is pressed down, but the arm that moves the clutch and the clutch fork can also be stiff and squeaky. You’ll need to get under the car to get at these parts but be safe. Make sure the engine is off, obviously, and try and get underneath. It might be worth having a friend sitting in the car who can press the clutch down when you’re underneath. This can help you find the exact spot.
Don’t worry; you do not need to replace your clutch! This would be very expensive and unnecessary. What you may need to replace to fix the squeak is the throw-out bearing. This part moves the flywheel when you press the clutch pedal. It gets worn out over time and replacing it is the best option.
You may also need to replace the bushing bearings, which support and centre the clutch disc. This is something you could do yourself if you’re mechanically inclined, but you’d want to consult the manual for the type of car you’re working on. If you’re worried about it at all, then have a professional complete the work.
Again, this is not one you can do yourself, unfortunately. If the bell housing surrounding the clutch’s transmission has become damaged or contaminants have leaked inside, the transmission needs to be thoroughly inspected and cleaned.
You could possibly manage this yourself, but there are a lot of essential components in here. The clutch is a vital part of the car so getting it looked at by a mechanic is the safest option.
Not sure of the problem?
When you’re under the car lubricating the pivots, do look at the housing with a torch. If it seems undamaged and looks relatively clean, then it’s probably ok. If it’s cracked or looks very oily and lubrication of the rest of the clutch hasn’t helped, send it in to your local garage to have it checked out.
4. Do Nothing
It sounds weird, but most of the time, the squeaking is due to a bit of friction. If it’s not bothering you, then you can just leave it as it’s unlikely to be dangerous. You do need to monitor it, though. If it gets worse or other problems develop, such as slipping gears, then take no chances and get it looked at urgently.
Rounding Up: Fixing a Squeaky Clutch
A squeaky clutch pedal rarely signifies a significant problem; it’s just annoying. Please remember this article only covers squeaking, so the clutch is making a growling or grinding sound, then it’s a different matter.
For squeaks, you can do nothing or just lubricate the pedal and clutch pivots, and nine times out of ten, peace will be restored to the car. There are a few circumstances where worn parts do need to be replaced, though, so when in doubt, have your car inspected. Safety first!
Note: We have a whole section on reducing car noise – check it out!