How Can I Change the Clutch in Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Replacing the clutch in a front wheel drive car can be required after clutch failure or to provide a stronger clutch for racing or performance purposes. However, the process of actually replacing the clutch in a front wheel drive car is fairly complicated and is considered one of the more difficult replacement processes for a home mechanic. Replacing the clutch in a front wheel drive car involves either pulling the engine or dropping the transaxle out of the car because the transmission itself actually sits inside the engine.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Clutch on a 2001 Dodge Dakota

Disconnect the negative battery cable and lay it aside, ensuring that it does not touch metal. Jack up the Dakota, using the floor jack, then support it with jack stands. Remove the floor jack. Unbolt the U-joint bracket on the rear driveshaft, using the appropriate wrench, then remove the driveshaft. Make sure the U-joints don't fall and hit the ground. If the caps come off, the bearings inside will fall out, and you'll have to replace the U-joints. Stuff a rag in the tailshaft to keep the transmission fluid from leaking.

Unplug the crankshaft position sensor. Remove the retaining bolts, then pull the crank sensor off the block. Remove the wiring from the starter, using the appropriate wrench. Remove the starter's retaining bolts, using the appropriate socket, then remove the starter. Remove the transmission dipstick tube, using the appropriate socket.

Slide the drain pan under the transmission cooler lines, where they enter the transmission. Remove the lines from the transmission, using the appropriate line wrench. Block the holes in the transmission for the line, using rags, to keep the transmission fluid from leaking out.

Unbolt and remove the transmission converter access cover. Unbolt the torque converter bolts through the access cover, using the appropriate socket. Turn the torque converter until you find and remove all the bolts. Unbolt and remove the transmission oil dipstick tube.

Unplug the vehicle speed sensor wiring harness connector from the VSS located on the transmission. Unplug the park/neutral switch wiring harness connector. Unbolt and remove the shift cable and the throttle valve cable.

Slide the floor jack under the transmission and raise it up enough to touch the transmission. Unbolt and remove the transmission mount, using the appropriate wrench. Unbolt the transmission crossmember, using the appropriate socket. Remove the crossmember. Make sure that the jack is at a point under the transmission where it will be balanced properly -- for safety reasons, you should have a helper with this part, but it can be done by one person. Remove the transmission flange bolts, then pull the transmission off the engine. You might need to pry it with a prybar if its removal is difficult.

Remove the pressure plate by loosing the bolts 1/2 turn each until the bolts come out -- the pressure plate is under pressure and will whack you in the head if you are not careful. Remove the disc and throwout bearing, using the appropriate sockets.

Install the new throwout bearing, using the appropriate sockets. Install the new disc and pressure plate, using the appropriate sockets. Tighten the pressure plate bolts in 1/2 turn increments to 21 foot-pounds of torque.

Make sure the torque converter is seated properly in the transmission. Jack up the transmission and line it up on the engine. Push it into place, ensuring the dowl pins are fitted into the guide holes and that no wiring or hoses have fallen down to get trapped between the transmission and the engine. Insert the bolts and tighten them as far as possible, by hand. Tighten the bolts to 65 foot-pounds of torque.

Reinstall the driveshaft, transmission mount and crossmember. Reattach the throttle valve cable, shift cable, park/neutral switch connector, VSS sensor connector, and the transmission oil dipstick tube. Tighten the torque converter bolts to 23 foot-pounds of torque, using the appropriate socket, if the converter is a 10.75-inch converter, and 35 foot-pounds of torque for a 12.2-inch converter. Reinstall the torque converter access cover, transmission cooler lines, starter and crank sensor.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Set of wrenches

  • Set of sockets

  • Drain pan

  • Set of line wrenches

  • Rags

  • Extensions

  • Screwdriver

  • Pry bar

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace a Clutch in a CJ7

Removal

Park the Jeep on a flat surface. Set the parking brake and put the transmission in neutral.

Remove the screws that hold the transmission cover to the floor. Pry the cover up slightly so it is able to move freely.

Position the floor jack under the rear of the transmission and raise the jack until it makes solid contact. Unbolt the transmission from the crossmember, and unbolt the crossmember from the frame rails. Remove the crossmember.

Remove the front and rear driveshaft U-bolts and disconnect the driveshafts from the transfer case. Disconnect the clutch linkage from the bellhousing at the front of the transmission.

Remove the clutch cover at the bottom of the bellhousing. Remove all the bolts that hold the bellhousing to the engine. Support the bellhousing and slide the transmission and transfer case rearward until it disengages from the engine.

Loosen the bolts that hold the pressure plate to the flywheel. Work gradually in a cross pattern until all the bolts are out. Remove the old pressure plate and clutch disk. Reach into the recess in the center of the flywheel and pull the old pilot bushing out. Clean the flywheel with brake cleaner.

Installation

Put a dab of grease on the new pilot bushing and insert it in its recess. Place the new clutch disk against the flywheel and place the new pressure plate against it.

Insert the clutch alignment tool through the hole in the center of the new clutch disk and into the pilot bushing. Hold the tool perpendicular to the flywheel and start the bolts through the holes in the pressure plate and into the flywheel. Use the torque wrench to tighten the bolts evenly in a cross pattern to 25 ft. lb. Remove the alignment tool.

Pop the old throwout bearing off the clutch arm in the bellhousing, and replace it with the new bearing. It clips in place with no tools necessary.

Slide the transmission forward carefully. Make sure the input shaft slides smoothly through the clutch disk and into the pilot bushing. Replace the bolts around the bellhousing and torque to 50 ft. lb.

Replace the clutch linkage, driveshafts, crossmember and floor plate.

Items you will need

  • Service manual

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Combination wrench set

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

  • Screwdriver set

  • Brake cleaner

  • Grease

  • Pilot bushing

  • Clutch disk

  • Clutch alignment tool

  • Pressure plate

  • Throwout bearing

 How to Change a Clutch in a Jeep Wrangler

Jack the vehicle to a height of three cinder blocks and place jack stands under the axles. Use the cinder blocks around the frame for additional support.

Drain and cap the transfer case and transmission after you have successfully removed the driveline and skid plate. Zip-tie the driveline to the driver's side frame.

Secure a chain over the transmission and tighten around the transmission adapter to hold it in place after disconnecting from the engine. Remove the transfer case linkage, shift tower retainer and wiring harness before disconnecting. Be sure to also zip-tie the fuel lines safely out of the way.

Remove the clutch fork, throwout bearing, pressure plate and clutch disk. Replace these parts with the new ones from your kit. Make sure the new clutch turns freely on the splines of the transmission input shaft. Have someone help you by holding the clutch disk in place until you can get the pressure plate secured.

Line the transmission back up with the engine and secure it. Roll the transmission slowly to line up the docking. Keeping the transmission in neutral will allow the splines to realign themselves. After it is securely bolted to the engine, reconnect the wiring harnesses and replace and realign the shifter.

Reconnect the transfer case shift bracket and the front and rear propeller shafts. Fill the transfer case with one quart of ATF-4 synthetic.

Refill the transmission with approved transmission fluid listed in your owner's manual. It should take about four bottles. Replace the skid plate, remove the cinder blocks and jack stands and lower your Jeep. You're ready to go for a drive.

Items you will need

  • New clutch kit

  • Drive ratchet

  • Brake spoon

  • Wire cutters

  • SAE and metric socket set

  • Channel lock pliers

  • Floor jack with transmission adapter

  • Allen wrenches

  • 12 cinder blocks

  • Jack stands

  • Screwdriver set

  • Heavy duty zip ties

  • Jeep service manual

 How to Change the Clutch in a Nissan Pickup

Raise the truck and support it on jack stands. Remove the driveshaft by removing the C-clamps securing the rear universal joint to the pinion yoke, using a wrench. Place the drip pan under the transmission tailshaft and pull out the driveshaft.

Remove all electrical connections on the transmission. Remove the slave cylinder on the driver’s side of the transmission by removing the two bolts with the appropriate socket. Remove the gearshift from the top of the transmission by removing the screws in the chrome cover plate with the screwdriver. Lift the plate and the rubber boot under the plate and pull them halfway up the gearshift lever. Remove the four 10-millimeter bolts that secure the gearshift lever to the top of the transmission. Lift the gearshift out.

Remove the two bolts in the transmission mount, using the appropriate socket. Remove the two bolts and nuts on either side of the transmission crossmember. Place the floor jack under the transmission and lift the transmission off the crossmember. Pull the crossmember out from under the transmission.

Allow the transmission to drop down slowly a few inches. Remove all of the bolts in the bell housing, using the appropriate socket. Raise the floor jack to support the transmission. Pull the transmission back and lower it to the ground. Remove all of the bolts in the pressure plate, using the appropriate socket. Remove the pressure plate. Be careful--it is heavy and the clutch behind it is going to come off at the same time.

Install the new clutch and pressure plate by making sure the springs in the center of the clutch are facing the transmission. Insert the clutch alignment tool through the splines in the clutch. Insert the nose of the clutch alignment tool into the center pilot hole in the flywheel. Place the pressure plate over the clutch, align the dowel pins with the holes in the pressure plate and push the plate down on the dowel pins. Insert the bolts and tighten. Pull the alignment tool out.

Install the new throwout bearing into the transmission bell housing. The throwout bearing is a round, smooth-faced bearing with a pair of tangs or metal extensions on the rear. These tangs are purposely installed to allow a solid flexible connection to the throwout bearing control arm. Consider that the pressure plate is spinning and the throwout bearing must contact the center fingers on the pressure plate in order to push the fingers in to disengage the clutch. When the clutch pedal is depressed, the throwout bearing is forced forward, toward the front of the car, where it contacts the pressure-plate fingers. When the pedal is lifted, the throwout bearing is withdrawn from the pressure-plate fingers, engaging the clutch. Pull the old bearing off the throwout bearing release arm. It is held on with two spring clips that ride over the two tabs on the bearing. Install the new bearing under the spring clips.

Raise the transmission with the floor jack and align the transmission's input shaft with the center of the pressure plate. Insert the transmission through the pressure plate and clutch. Install the bolts in the bell housing and tighten securely.

Install the slave cylinder on the side of the transmission, using the two bolts. Tighten the bolts. Raise the transmission with the jack enough to position the crossmember under the transmission. Install the two bolts and nuts on either side of the crossmember and tighten.

Remove the jack and install the two bolts in the transmission mount, using a socket. Install the driveshaft in the transmission tailshaft and connect it to the pinion yoke with the C-clamps.

Install the gear shift lever into the gear shift pocket in the top of the transmission. Install the four bolts in the cover and tighten them with a socket. Pull the boot down and place the chrome retaining ring over the boot. Install the screws and tighten with the Phillips screwdriver. Connect any loose electrical connectors and lower the truck.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchets

  • Extensions

  • Set of 3/8-inch drive sockets

  • Set of wrenches

  • Drain bucket

  • Phillips screwdriver

 How to Change a Clutch on a 1991 Honda Accord

Park your car in a safe place with enough room around the car, specially at the front, where you can move jack and tools around you.

Disconnect the black, negative cable form the battery.

Raise the front of the vehicle with a jack and support it safely on jack stands.

Support the transaxle with the jack and remove the bolts that secure the transaxle to the engine using wrenches, ratchet and sockets. Keep bolts, nuts and other parts neatly organized for easier reassembly.

Move the transaxle to the side just enough to give yourself enough clearance to work on the clutch assembly.

Scribe alignment marks with a scratch awl or small screwdriver on the clutch pressure plate and mounting base if you plan to reuse the same pressure plate; however, installing a new pressure plate now will save you much time later and ensure the clutch assembly works much better for a longer period of time.

Turn the pressure plate mounting bolts two turns counterclockwise one by one, working in a crisscross pattern, until you can remove the bolts with your hand. This method will prevent the pressure plate from wrapping. Also, make sure you have a good grip on the clutch assembly as you get ready to remove it; the clutch disc and pressure plate combined weight makes the assembly awkward to handle.

Clean the flywheel surface with brake cleaner; then, mount the clutch disc and pressure plate assembly. The clutch disc friction material should face the pressure plate. Make sure the pressure plate dowel holes align with the dowel pins on the flywheel. Install the clutch bolts finger-tight.

Insert a clutch disc alignment tool into the clutch assembly center hole to align the pressure plate and disc, then tighten the pressure plate bolts two turns at a time, working in a crisscross pattern. Torque the bolts to 19 foot pounds and remove the alignment tool.

As you bring the transaxle close to the engine, align the transaxle input shaft to the clutch disc splines. Align the transaxle case to the engine block and push the transaxle in place against the cylinder block.

Install and tighten the transaxle to engine mounting bolts.

Lower the vehicle and reconnect the black, negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Jack and 2 jack stands

  • Wrench set

  • Ratchet and socket set

  • Scratch awl

  • Screwdriver

 How to Change a Clutch on a Honda

Remove the negative (black) battery cable.

Raise the car using the floor jack and support it with jack stands. Remove the floor jack when you have the car safely supported with the jack stands.

Place the floor jack under the transaxle, but don't raise the transaxle, raise the jack enough so that the transaxle is supported. Remove the bolts that hold the transaxle to the engine. You will need to use both wrenches and a ratchet and sockets.

Move the transaxle just enough so that you can have easy access to the clutch.

Use your scratching awl on the pressure plate to mark the clutch alignments. Although changing the pressure plate when you're changing the clutch will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

Turn the pressure plate bolts two turns counterclockwise going in a crisscross pattern until you can remove the bolts by hand. Removing the bolts this way keeps the pressure plate from warping. When you go to remove the clutch from the car make sure you have a good grip on it because it does have some weight to it, which makes it awkward to move.

Clean off the surface of the flywheel with brake cleaner. Then put on the clutch and pressure plate, make sure that the friction side of the clutch is facing the pressure plate. Line up the pressure plates dowel holes with the dowels on the flywheel. Reinsert the clutch bolts and screw them in finger-tight.

Put the clutch disc alignment tool into the center hole of the clutch. Tighten the clutch bolts two turns at a time, working in a crisscross pattern. Tighten the bolts to 19 foot pounds of torque.

Move the transaxle so that it is aligned with the clutch disc splines. Align the transaxle case to the engine block and push it into place against the cylinder block.

Install and tighten the transaxle bolts to the engine.

Put the vehicle on the ground and reconnect the battery cable.

Take the car for a short test drive to make sure that the clutch is working properly.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Two jack stands

  • Wrenches, different sizes

  • Ratchet

  • Sockets, different sizes

  • Scratch awl

  • Screwdriver

  • Clutch disc alignment tool

 How to Replace a Clutch in a Mustang

Remove the Old Clutch

Remove the exterior parts, including the console and the shifter itself. Also remove the exhaust H-pipe.

Remove interior parts. This includes the starter, which is attached to the transmission bell-housing. Disconnect the clutch cable and the drive-shaft.

Remove the transmission. Undo the transmission cross-member and bolts, which will allow the transmission to come out of the Mustang.

Remove the bell-housing and pressure plate, and remove the worn clutch disk.

Inspect the clutch flywheel for damage, and replace if necessary.

Install the New Clutch

Install a new clutch disk and pressure plate, using a clutch alignment tool, which can be found at any local auto parts store or Ford dealership.

Replace the bell-housing, and put the transmission back into your Mustang. Reconnect the cross-member and all related bolts.

Reconnect all interior parts, including the starter, clutch cable and drive-shaft.

Reconnect the exhaust H-Pipe, reinstall the shifter and replace the console.

Drive your Mustang slowly in a controlled environment to make sure the new clutch is installed properly.

Items you will need

  • Clutch alignment tool Screwdriver Metric wrench set Jack Clutch disk Pressure plate

 How Can I Change the Clutch in a Front Wheel Drive Car?

Pull the Engine

One method of replacing the clutch is to pull the engine out of the car and then drop the transaxle out. This method is very involved as you will need to place the car on jackstands somewhere solid and then begin unbolting all of the internal pieces that connect to the engine. Unbolt the exhaust, both front axles, the fuel system, the electrical system and all of the cooling system hoses. Unbolt the engine mounting bolts, and then use an engine puller to lift the engine and transmission out of the car. Unbolt the transmission, and then replace the clutch which is located between the transmission and engine.

Dropping Transaxle

The second method you can employ is to leave the engine in the car, and simply drop the transaxle and transmission out of the engine. You will need to set the car on jackstands again, and then unbolt the wheel and the steering knuckle from the wheel hub. Use a gear puller to pull the axles out of the engine and drain all of the transmission oil. Use a jack to support the transmission as you unbolt it from the engine housing and then lower it out of the car. Switch out the clutch located between the transmission and the engine.

Clutch Replacement

Once the transmission is separated from the engine, remove the bolts surrounding the pressure plate followed by the bolts holding the flywheel. Slide the flywheel and pressure plate off, and then examine the clutch plates beneath. Place the new clutch in its stead, and then install the flywheel followed by the pressure plate. Make sure to properly align the pressure plate using the tool provided in the clutch kit. Slide the transmission back in place, and then reinstall everything that was disconnected to get to the clutch in the first place (i.e. reinstall the transaxle and transmission or reinstall the entire engine).

 How to Change the Clutch for a KIA Spectra

Break the lug nuts loose on the Kia's front wheels by turning them 1/4 turn with a tire wrench. Do not unseat the wheel from the wheel hub.

Disconnect the cable running to the negative battery terminal.

Jack up on the front jack point of your Spectra and place jack stands under the front pinch welds of the vehicle. Then, lower the vehicle onto the stands.

Continue removing the lug nuts and pull the wheel off the hub assembly.

Remove the caliper mounting bolts and slide the caliper off the rotor. Secure it to the coil springs on the suspension, and pull the rotor off the hub.

Remove the cotter pin holding the drive axle nut in place and remove the drive axle nut.

Remove the tie rod bolt.

Hold the steering knuckle and hub out of the way while you remove the axle from the Kia's transaxle. Wedge the tip of a flat tip screwdriver between the axle and the transaxle housing. Pry the end of the axle out of the transaxle.

Support the transaxle and the engine with a floor jack. You'll need two floor jacks to accomplish this. Use a flat block of wood when supporting the engine to protect the oil pan (this is the only solid place to jack up on the engine under your Spectra). Be careful not to damage the oil pan as the Spectra has an oil pickup inside the oil pan located in the bottom of the pan. If the pan becomes dented, it may cause oil starvation in the engine and lead to engine damage.

Place the catch pan under the transaxle, remove the drain bolt and drain the transaxle fluid into the catch pan.

Disconnect the Spectra's shift linkage from the transaxle.

Disconnect the Spectra's clutch linkage from the transaxle.

Disconnect the speedometer from the transaxle.

Remove the Kia's exhaust piping by removing the exhaust piping to manifold bolts. Then, unplug the O2 sensor electrical plugs, and slide the entire exhaust system off the hangers attached to the under-body of the vehicle.

Remove the transaxle to engine bolts and remove the transaxle mounts.

Pull the transaxle away from the engine.

Support the clutch with a clutch alignment tool. Slide the tool into the center of the clutch while you remove the pressure plate to transaxle bolts.

Slide the clutch assembly off the transaxle.

Clean the surface of the new clutch assembly and flywheel. Install the new clutch. Installation is the reverse of removal.

Items you will need

  • Two floor jacks with two jack stands

  • Flat block of wood

  • Catch pan

  • Clutch alignment tool

  • Socket wrench and socket set

  • New clutch assembly

  • Brake parts cleaner

  • Torque wrench

  • Safety glasses and mask

  • Zip ties

  • Pliers

  • Flat tip screwdriver

  • Air compressor and impact wrench

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.