What Is Clutch Judder and What Does It Mean?

What Is Clutch Judder and What Does It Mean?

One of the worst feelings for drivers with a manual transmission is clutch judder. If you’re unfamiliar, we’ll explain what clutch judder is and what it means and explore some possibilities for why your vehicle is experiencing it.

What Is Clutch Judder?

If you’re new to vehicle and clutch assembly terminology, clutch judder means clutch vibrations that you feels when engaging the clutch and shifting gears.

Clutch judder is not a good thing; it means the clutch and flywheel are not meeting properly. Instead, components are gripping and slipping. The result is a herky-jerky vibration and feeling from the clutch when the driver engages it for awkward and potentially dangerous handling.

What Causes Clutch Judder?

We know what clutch judder is and what it means, but what causes it, and what should drivers do about it? If you’re experiencing clutch judder, it’s likely one of these three causes.

Improper Aftermarket Installation

If you recently installed an aftermarket clutch to the vehicle and experienced clutch judder shortly after, it’s likely the result of a bad installation. While clutch installations should be relatively easy for professionals, there are many mistakes to avoid when installing a new clutch that could result in problems like clutch judder.

Overgreasing the input shaft, for example, is a common mistake that amateurs make. The excess grease can contaminate the clutch plate and surface, causing clutch judder. If this sounds like your vehicle, you’ll want a professional look at it and determine if the installation is the source of the issue.

Damaged Clutch Disc or Flywheel

If you’ve had the same clutch and flywheel for years, the issue may not be the installation; instead, the components have become worn out and damaged. The flywheel and clutch disc must have flat and even surfaces, but as they age, they can become warped.

The loss of uniform shape can result in awkward clutch engagement and sudden vibrations. The problem may also be surface contamination from a leak in your system that’s affecting the clutch disc and flywheel.


Another common cause of clutch judder is misalignment. If the disc and flywheel aren’t exactly aligned, they won’t engage smoothly. They’ll cause jerky, awkward shifts as the two components try to meet and connect.

Misalignment causes can vary but typically come from worn out or damaged mounts and the frame. If you’ve been in an accident or collision recently, double-check the clutch to ensure everything is aligned. Again, it may be an installment alignment issue if it’s a new aftermarket clutch.

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Shea Rumoro