EverTough Clutch

Self-adjusting clutches minimize downtime and cut maintenance costs

Do I have enough fuel? Which truck stop has the best food? Am I running on schedule? Am I driving as safely as I need to be?

Drivers have plenty to worry about when they’re on the road. So much so that preventative maintenance and remembering when to get the clutch adjusted can easily slip their minds. Or, because they have a schedule to meet, they are tempted to drive now and deal with maintenance issues later to avoid losing time.

In recent years, heavy-duty truck manufacturers have continued to increase the number of vehicles they produce with hydraulic clutch linkages. Manufacturers say they’re easier to package into today’s complex vehicle chassis, easier to install during assembly.

Many drivers like them as well, because they can be paired with a booster which then requires less pedal pressure to disengage the clutch. However, despite the advantages to manufacturers and operators, fleets and owner-operators need to spec self-adjusting clutches to ensure they don’t suffer some unintended consequences.

Because a hydraulic linkage places a pressurized fluid between the pedal and the clutch, the free play that a driver can normally feel in the clutch pedal is lost. This means drivers will not be able to identify the reduction in free pedal that normally warns them that a non self-adjusting clutch requires servicing or an adjustment. Failure to recognize these traditional warning signs can lead to premature wear or failure of the clutch. Components-Hydraulic-Clutch-Release-System
Eaton’s self-adjust clutches are specifically engineered to work with hydraulic linkages, making it the best option for trucks with this technology.

“With a mechanical linkage, the driver can feel the reduction in free pedal as the clutch wears,” explained Benjamin Karrer, product strategy manager for clutches with Eaton. “This reduction in free pedal provides an indicator to the driver to bring the truck in to have the clutch manually adjusted. With a hydraulic linkage system, because the free pedal is totally eliminated, he or she doesn’t have the same level of feel.

“So the driver has to be very, very good about bringing the truck in for service regularly and having that clutch wear checked to see if it needs to be adjusted, which often doesn’t happen.”

Manufacturers and operators, fleets and owner-operators can take this maintenance responsibility out of the drivers’ hands by considering a switch to a self-adjusting clutch.
Hydraulic Free Pedal Clutch
With Hydraulic linkage the driver experiences consistent clutch pedal position, losing the ability to tell when his clutch may need an adjustment (loss of free pedal).

There are benefits to using a self-adjusting clutch, including reduced maintenance requirements and costs. Typically, a manual-adjust clutch will need to be re-adjusted a minimum of 13 times through its life cycle and can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to perform each time. Eliminating these adjustments with a self-adjusting clutch saves 3-6 hours of downtime, plus the cost.

“Self-adjusting clutches take the guesswork out of maintenance and protect the truck’s other components from getting damaged or destroyed if a clutch goes out,” said Karrer. “They also decrease the risk of needing unexpected service, lower maintenance costs, increase uptime and allow for on-time deliveries to customers.”