4 End-of-Season Clutch Maintenance Essentials

Chris Powers

Does this scenario sound familiar? Racing season ends and the car gets pushed in the corner or left in the trailer. Sometime around the middle of February, or in a worst case scenario about a week before the first event, you decide it’s time to start getting ready for the new season. Whoops!  I forgot the clutch was slipping a little on that last pass, or it has been 50 runs since I had this thing out and inspected. Sure enough, you pull it out and it needs rebuilt.

That is the time of year that we get bombarded with rebuilds and RUSH rebuilds. Not only does it put you in a bind to get everything back together in time, it is hard for us to process the unit thoroughly and get it back to you in time.

So what should you do in the offseason?

  1. Clutch Inspection 

    Do this sooner rather than later. Now is the time to make sure you have all of your clutch components fresh and make any changes or upgrades to the system to improve performance.

  2. Pressure Plate

    Inspect for warpage and signs of extreme heat. A pressure plate will build a taper to the inside edge over time that grabs the clutch disc only on the outer edge. This can either cause the clutch to get more aggressive on launch, or slip on launch. High heat signs include bluing of the metal, shiny spots on the surface, and heat cracking or smearing in extreme situations.

  3. Clutch Disc

    Here you need to know your minimum thickness and the number of runs on the disc. On sintered iron clutches, you will usually hit the run limit before you wear it out. We recommend no more than 75-100 passes on these discs as the hubs and rivets will tend to fatigue over time, and if this disc comes apart, it will cause major damage in the bellhousing, or worse…

  4. Flywheel

    Steel or aluminum flywheels should be inspected for the same signs of wear as the pressure plate. Many times the flywheel can be resurfaced, but with aluminum flywheels it may be necessary to replace the insert.

Keep in mind that these components wear as a system. As the disc wears and surfaces on the pressure plate and flywheel wear, the disc will conform to those surfaces. Thus, just changing a disc or pressure plate and using other components that are not fresh and flat will not allow for proper seating of the new component. This will throw your combination way off when you hit the track, or worse yet might just fail.

While you are inspecting these components, be sure to check all of your backup parts. There is nothing worse than being at that first event of the season, having an issue, and when you go to change out the clutch all you have is last year’s worn out backup that you forgot to send in for rebuild!

The offseason is also a good time to review your run records and data and determine if other changes to the car may help improve performance. Rear gearing, transmission ratios, tire sizes and types can be modified or changed based on the data you review to help improve your performance for the upcoming season. 

If your budget and time allow for it, plan to test over the early months of the year. This track time is valuable to helping improve your performance for the season, and allows you to try different combinations and parts away from the time constraints of big events. Remember that great teams are built in the offseason, so choose to be different and ready for the 2020 season!