Cars for people with twins!

How Do You Know If Your Car's Clutch Cable Is Failing?

While many modern-day vehicles seem more like a computer than anything mechanical, older cars still rely on more rudimentary techniques. This is the case if you have a vehicle of a certain age equipped with a manual gearbox, as it will rely on a cable to operate the clutch mechanism, which may need some attention from time to time. How does this work, and how can it play up?

How The Clutch Cable Works

When you operate a vehicle like this, depressing the clutch pedal will pull a cable attached to the top of the pedal on one end and the clutch mechanism on the other. This will activate the clutch release bearing, which will slide along the input shaft and move the pressure plate away from the flywheel. When this happens, it'll isolate the engine from the gearbox, stop the shaft from spinning and allow the driver to change gears.

Signs Of A Problem

When the cable is not operating as it should be, the driver may find it much more difficult to engage gears, as the bearing will not have adequately disengaged the gearbox from the engine. Sometimes, the pedal may be very stiff or go down to the floor and be reluctant to come back up again.

Typically, the cable will have frayed or be snagging on the protective outer case. As these cables require a certain amount of lubrication, this may also be lacking, leading to too much friction as it tries to move back and forth.

Broken Cable

If the cable is severely damaged, it may suddenly break; in this case, the pedal will fall to the floor without any tension. Alternatively, the bracket that holds the outer cable in place may be corroded or has otherwise failed.

Making Adjustments

While you may suspect that your cable is damaged, don't forget that it may need to be adjusted instead. Periodically, you may need to take up the slack caused by simple wear and tear and may be able to return everything to normal this way.


In some setups, you can try re-lubricating the cable by adding a certain type of oil. It's best to remove the actual cable from its outer casing to do this, but this job can be tricky.

Getting A Mechanic's Help

If you suspect you have growing issues with your clutch cable, talk to an auto repair mechanic. If they need to replace the entire cable, they will do so or look for issues elsewhere should that be the case.