The release bearing in a car is an integral part of the clutch system which ensures separation between the clutch disc and the clutch.
Mechanically, the release bearing makes up about one third of the entire clutch system. It is thus an important part of the system. Put simply, the release bearing helps make it possible to change gear.
The release bearing is activated when the clutch pedal is depressed.
When the clutch is released from the engine, it is possible to change gears. This happens when the clutch pedal is depressed. The important thing here is to understand that if the clutch is kept depressed while the car is stationary and still in gear – e.g. at a red light – then the release bearing is constantly being pushed up against the clutch plate. The constant load exposes the release bearing to greater wear than if the car is in neutral and the driver simply keeps their foot on the brake.
Even if you just rest your foot on the clutch, thus applying very light pressure, it will still cause unnecessary wear. Therefore, do not rest your foot on the clutch while driving or when the car is stationary.
If noise (a grinding sound) is heard from the clutch or gearbox when the clutch pedal is depressed, it is most likely a sign of a worn release bearing.
If you hear a noise that can be difficult to pinpoint, try depressing the clutch. If the noise disappears, the fault is most likely in the gearbox, but if the noise persists when the clutch pedal is activated, this is a sign that the release bearing has been worn out or otherwise damaged.
If the car shows one of the following three symptoms, you should check whether there is a fault with the release bearing:
As a rule of thumb, the lifespan of a release bearing is 150,000 kilometres. If the clutch is used incorrectly as described above, this can drop to as little as 50,000 km.
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