How to Adjust a Clutch Pedal (for the Right Amount of Free Play)

There are fewer vehicles on the road each year with a manual transmission. Even that new $50k sports car likely only comes with a slush box or possibly a dual-clutch transmission.

While more drivers prefer automatics and car manufacturers are offering less models with stick shifts, manual transmissions are still preferred by many due to two main reasons: driver involvement and cheaper maintenance/repairs.

But a potential downside of having a manual transmission is that sometimes a clutch pedal adjustment will be necessary. This article explains how, whether it’s a manual adjustment or self-adjusting clutch.

how to adjust clutch pedal

See Also: What Does “Riding the Clutch” Mean?

The Clutch Pedal

The clutch pedal is where it all starts. It offers the driver the ability to manually change gears while driving. Some level of skill is necessary to drive a stick shift and operate the clutch. As a reward, the driver makes a direct connection with the car allowing for a more fun driving experience

For the clutch to work efficiently, the right amount of play in the linkage between the clutch pedal and clutch fork (or release arm) is necessary. If not enough free play exists, a slipping clutch will result.

Too much play on the other hand would result in a vehicle that creeps forward when the clutch pedal is depressed and the car is in gear.

When it comes to adjusting the clutch on a vehicle, there is more than one way to successfully complete this task. Adjusting a clutch is not simply a one-size-fits-all process, as there are different types of clutch assemblies and therefore different types of clutch adjustments.

Here are two main ways in how to adjust a clutch pedal in your vehicle.

See Also: Driving With Both Feet – Good? Bad? Illegal?

Manual Clutch Pedal Adjustment

how to manually adjust clutch pedal

The first step to take when making a manual clutch adjustment is to turn the engine off and engage the emergency brake. You’ll want to position yourself so your head is partly underneath the dashboard.

This will create the necessary visibility and access to make the manual adjustment. Those who are smaller in stature and have good flexibility obviously will have an easier time doing the pedal adjustment but almost anyone can get the job done.

Related: 6 Reasons Your Manual Transmission is Hard to Shift

Most vehicles will have a clutch cable with a threaded rod that has both a locknut and adjuster nut that determines the amount of free play the clutch pedal has. You’ll want to locate these two nuts which are located above the clutch pedal.

To adjust, simply pull up on the clutch cable and loosen the locknut and the adjuster nut slightly. Next, slowly pull up on the clutch cable again. You will feel a point where the clutch fork engages. This is where the clutch cable should be adjusted to.

While keeping pressure on the clutch cable so it’s in that exact position, tighten both the locknut and adjuster nut so the cable holds in that position. Your clutch pedal should now be in the optimal position.

Here’s a good video of clutch adjustment process:

Self-Adjusting Clutch Adjustment

In theory, a self-adjusting clutch is supposed to adjust itself for the correct amount of free play. But sometimes it needs a little help. As it uses a hydraulic clutch pedal, this type of clutch adjustment is typically going to be the easier one to complete, no matter what the experience level of the technician is.

See Also: Symptoms of a Bad Clutch Master Cylinder

With the engine running and the park brake engaged, simply put a foot underneath the clutch pedal and lift up and towards yourself.

You can then test and verify the results of this adjustment by depressing the clutch pedal and putting the vehicle into gear. Check the distance that the clutch must move down before the gears can be changed.

If this type of clutch adjustment doesn’t provide the desired results for the vehicle owner, then it’s recommended that a vehicle owner or mechanic attempt a manual clutch adjustment.

Mark Stevens


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