The clutch cable adjuster is the mechanism responsible for adjusting the slack and tension of the clutch cable on manual transmission vehicles. It is important to have the clutch cable properly adjusted to the correct slack so that the clutch pedal will effectively disengage the clutch disc when it is depressed. If the clutch cable is loose, the slack will result in the cable not being pulled as far when the pedal is depressed, and will result in problems with disengaging the clutch. Usually a faulty clutch cable adjuster will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver that service may be required.
1. Difficulty disengaging the clutch
One of the first symptoms commonly associated with a bad or failing clutch cable adjuster is difficulty disengaging the clutch. If the cable is incorrectly adjusted, or the mechanism has a problem, this may cause the pedal to retract the cable a shorter amount then it normally would. This would reduce the overall travel of the cable and clutch linkage mechanism, which may result in a clutch that has trouble disengaging properly even when the pedal is pressed all the way down. This can cause grinding when shifting, as well as a transmission that has trouble staying in gear.
2. Loose clutch pedal
Another symptom of a problem with the clutch cable adjuster is a loose clutch pedal. A broken or incorrectly adjusted cable can result in a clutch cable with excessive slack. This will cause the pedal to have too much free play when depressed before resistance is encountered and the cable starts retracting, and will result in a clutch that does not disengage properly or all the way. This can cause the transmission to grind during shifting, or pop out of gear unexpectedly.
3. Excessively tight clutch cable
An excessively tight clutch cable is another symptom of a possible problem with the clutch cable adjuster. If the adjuster binds, or is adjusted too tightly, this will cause the clutch to be slightly disengaged at all times - even when the pedal is not being stepped on. This will cause accelerated wear on the clutch disc and will shorten its service life.
Most clutch pedals require a specific amount of free play adjustment, and will have problems with engaging and disengaging the clutch if the adjustment is incorrect. For this reason, if you suspect that your vehicle’s clutch cable requires adjustment, or that there may be a problem with the mechanism, have the vehicle’s clutch inspected by a professional, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the car needs a clutch cable adjuster replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Clutch Cable Adjuster and was authored by Ed Ruelas.