Do Automatic Cars Have a Clutch? Explained

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There is a degree of ambiguity on whether automatic vehicles have a clutch. Some people believe automatic cars have a clutch, while others think they don’t because there is no clutch pedal. Keep reading to learn if automatic cars have a clutch, how a clutch works, and whether you need a clutch replacement.

Do Automatic Cars Have a Clutch 1 Do Automatic Cars Have a Clutch? Explained

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Do Automatic Transmission Vehicles Have a Clutch?

Yes, a clutch is present in an automatic vehicle. However, the driver doesn’t need to use the clutch pedal. Instead, the gearbox of the car is the one that controls the clutch.

Most automatic transmission vehicles have four clutches. Your car will have performance issues if one of these clutches fails.

Clutch Operation in Automatic Vehicles

Automatic transmission cars rely on a clutch to facilitate gear changes. The clutch is found in the middle of the transmission and the engine. When driving, the driver depresses the clutch pedal, enabling the gears to align correctly.

During the depressing process, the gears disengage, permitting the engine to idle. The mechanism prevents engine stalling by ensuring correct gear engagement.

An automatic vehicle’s hydraulic clutch handling is done by the engine itself. The clutch will operate mechanically, engaging and disengaging when the transmission changes gears.

The system renders driving much more straightforward by removing the requirement for the driver to depress the clutch pedal.

Is the Clutch Part of the Automatic Transmission?

Yes, the clutch is a crucial part of the automatic transmission. Nevertheless, a component known as a torque converter fulfills the duties analogous to those of the clutch in manual vehicles. The torque converter facilitates the transfer of engine load to the gearbox, propelling the car forward.  

How Long Will a Clutch Last in Automatic Vehicles?

Your automatic vehicle clutch can last more than 80,000 miles if you observe the proper maintenance schedule. Like manual transmissions, automatic vehicles experience clutch problems. Ignoring the clutch failure will lead to further damage.

Different factors affect clutch duration, including your geographical location. You will soon need a clutch replacement if you live in a hot climate.

Consider inspecting your clutch if you notice unusual sounds in your car. It’s time to replace or repair your automatic clutch if there is a grinding noise. Other signs include:

  • Unusual vibration
  • Sticky gear

Common Causes of Automatic Clutch Failure

Here are the most common causes of clutch failure in automatic cars.

Worn Out Clutch Plate

People who drive regularly experience pressure plate issues, leading to clutch failure. It’s difficult to change gears with a worn-out clutch plate. To diagnose the problem, check the gear knob when changing gears. Your gears will hardly engage without pushing them hard.  

Damaged Clutch Disc

Your clutch disc needs replacement if it doesn’t grip the flywheel properly. The car engine will not transmit the rotating power properly if the disc has less grip on the flywheel. Sinking clutch pedals, difficulties in shifting the gears, and a burning smell are the most common signs of a worn-out clutch disc.

Do Automatic Cars Have a Clutch 1 1 Do Automatic Cars Have a Clutch? Explained

Broken Master Cylinder

A broken master cylinder doesn’t provide enough pressure to activate your automatic clutch. With a faulty, broken master cylinder, you will always have difficulty disengaging the clutch when pressing the pedal. Common signs of a broken clutch master cylinder include leaking and dirty fluid.  

Faulty Clutch Slave Cylinder

If your clutch pedal feels lost, it indicates a faulty clutch slave cylinder. A transmission repair specialist will check the fluid levels and condition of brake fluid to determine if your car has a bad slave cylinder. Sudden clutch slave cylinder failure is caused by loose cables or dirt in the disc.


Still have questions? Here are some frequently asked questions about automatic cars and clutches. 

How much does it cost to replace a clutch in an automatic vehicle?

Replacing a clutch in an automatic car costs around $1,200. The actual price depends on your vehicle model and the specific shop. It’s advisable to have your clutch repaired at an auto repair shop instead of a dealership, as it’s more expensive.

What does clutch judder feel like in automatic cars?

You will notice a clutch judder when starting your vehicle. Clutch judder in automatic cars is characterized by a strong vibration when you move the vehicle from a standstill. Your vehicle needs a flywheel replacement if you notice a premature clutch judder.

Is it safe to drive with a clutch judder in automatic cars?

No, it’s not safe to drive with a clutch judder. It’s vital to fix the slipping on your clutch to have a good driving experience.

Does clutch failure affect engine power?

Although clutch failure makes it difficult to shift the gear, it doesn’t affect your engine performance. However, it would be best if you repaired a faulty clutch to improve your vehicle pickup.

What happens if you keep driving with a bad clutch?

Driving an automatic car with a bad clutch is dangerous because it might blow up completely. Consult a mechanic to fix the issue to prevent damage to the gearbox and starter motor.

When replacing a clutch, what else should be replaced?

It’s crucial to replace the pilot bearing and slave cylinders when doing a clutch replacement. You can also purchase new flywheels and pressure plates.

How do I know I need a new clutch?

Select the 4th gear at around 50 Kph and ensure to engage the clutch. Your automatic clutch is worn out if your vehicle doesn’t pick up speed. 

The clutch also has an issue with the release mechanism if you must press it hard to engage it. Take your car to a repair shop if the clutch pedal often stays on the floor, which signals binding problems with the bearing.

How do I keep my clutch healthy?

Avoid riding your clutch and only use it when you need it most. In addition, you should never leave your foot on the clutch.

Final Thoughts

Automatic vehicles have clutches, but they are operated by hydraulic pressure. Clutches in automatic transmission allow ease of use and control, making them popular with most car enthusiasts.