Clutches & Flywheels

How Clutches and Flywheels can improve your Car

The clutch connects the transmission and the engine. When it is engaged, it clamps onto the flywheel and transfers power from the transmission to the wheels. It also determines the power output relative to the weight of the car and engine power. With regards to car performance, the basic principle is that the less power needed to get the flywheel moving, the more power available for the transmission and the wheels.

When seeking to increase the engine RPM and achieve top acceleration, there is a need to reduce the weight of the clutch components or the car itself. The latter might not be easy hence most engineers resolve to shave off some weight from the performance clutch and the flywheel. That's why materials like carbon fiber are quickly gaining prominence. So let's look at how the clutch and flywheel improve your car performance.


The flywheel plays a critical role in freeing up engine horsepower in performance cars. Efficiency is usually achieved by tweaking the weight of the flywheel. Heavy flywheels are used in commuter cars as they allow easy gradual acceleration and better power holding capacity. They are smoother and quieter thus improving the drivability of the car.

However, they are slow in shifting. On the track where the goal is to maintain high RPMs, you need a flywheel that will quickly pick up the speed for faster acceleration. There are three types of flywheels that you need to consider if you are to make the most out of your car.

  • The stock units - these are great for normal driving. Since they are less aggressive, their longevity is also commendable.
  • Light steel units - these are mid-range performance equipment. They are lighter than the stock units
  • Light aluminum flywheel - this is recommended for drivers who fancy track racing, drifting and drag races. It is more punishing, due to the aggressive clamping when the clutch is engaged.

Therefore, when improving your car with aftermarket flywheel, take these three options into consideration.

A heavier flywheel takes more time to gain momentum. It also takes longer to slow down or lose the gathered momentum. On the other hand, a lighter flywheel picks up the power from the engine very fast and can also slow down very quickly during clutch dumping.

The result is a faster engine response on the track. The downside to a lighter flywheel is a reduced inertial spin on a hill. You will need direct effort from the engine as soon as you start climbing the hill. Therefore, for optimum performance consider extremely light flywheels on flat tracks that demand quick revs and stops.

The Clutches

When you engage the clutch, the clutch plates separate the engine from the drive wheels to allow you to change the gear. As you release the clutch, the plates reengage to connect the drive wheel to the engine. This process is usually electronically monitored to avoid breaking the cogs on the flywheel.

How Clutches Improve a Vehicle's Performance

The clutch performance is dependent upon several aspects and components:

The clutch discs

These discs influence how the clutch feels when you engage a gear. The smoothness or roughness of the engagement depends on the availability of dampening springs on these discs.

These springs cushion the interaction between the outer engagement material and the transmission. Discs without the springs are prone to abrupt clamping causing a ‘jerky’ feeling. They are mostly recommended for drag races and drifting where you need to put down a lot of power almost instantaneously.

Clutch disc material can also improve the overall performance of the clutch. Those with carbon fiber lining are extremely lightweight and can take a lot of heat. In fact, they perform best when heated up, so pre-race warming is recommended to prevent slippage.

Therefore, you might want to purchase these if you're planning on some racetrack action. Metallic and ceramic discs with up to six pucks are also recommended for extreme performance.

These discs are smaller and feature more prominent riveting to increase the surface area. Since they go through a lot of wear and tear, some manufacturers such as Exedy make them with room for dismantling to allow for the replacement of worn out parts.

Organic discs with a continuous edge are preferred for the day to day driving. Some may be supplied with Kevlar material to suit the needs of spirited street drivers. They are characteristically larger with a fewer amount of riveting.

This information can help you unlock the full potential of your car. High-end units might promise more power and performance but not when applied to the wrong car.

Note that more power will also contribute to the wearing of your transmission parts.





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