Hydraulic Release Bearings

What are Hydraulic Release Bearings?

Smoothness is everything; just ask seasoned drivers. If there's something that can ruin your smooth ride, it's a faulty clutch, which can be caused by worn out hydraulic release bearings (HRBs), also referred to as hydraulic throwout bearings. Hydraulic Release Bearings are used with push-type clutches. They are designed to help you eliminate the need for external slave cylinders, spacers, mechanical linkages, and pivot balls. They are also available for use with most OE-type clutches as well as smaller diameter racing clutches.

How does Hydraulic Release Bearing Work?

The release bearing is at the heart of the clutch operation and operates the clutch in a manual transmission. Hydraulic Release Bearings are commonly found in mid- and rear-engine vehicles. The Hydraulic release bearings typically work like a mini hydraulic brake system. In HRBs there's no clutch fork or slave cylinder, rather, the clutch master cylinder applies hydraulic pressure directly to the bearing, engaging the pressure plate fingers, which in turn disengages the clutch disc from the flywheel. All the mechanical parts found in other systems are virtually replaced by a hose running from the clutch master cylinder directly to the master cylinder.

Why do you Need Hydraulic Release Bearings?

The biggest advantage of using hydraulic linkage is the fact that a small amount of pedal force is capable of manipulating what would normally be a heavy clutch with a mechanical linkage. Other benefits include:

  • - They offer a much smoother clutch operation both in modified and standard vehicles
  • - Reduces shock to the drivetrain
  • - They are compact
  • - Less moving parts
  • - Easy to control and offer flexible driving
  • - Offer consistent pressure, which ensures easier and smoother engagement
  • - They are quite simpler compared to the slave cylinder systems

Common Symptoms of a Bad Hydraulic Release Bearing

The car is made of several complex systems that must properly function together for optimal performance results. Release bearings seem insignificant, but they play in important role in ensuring your car functions. As we've already established, bearings work in connection to the clutch pedal, which means, any malfunctioning can be observed when the clutch is operated. For starters, you will hear a grinding, sharp whirring, or rattling sound whenever you depress the clutch, which slowly fades as you release it. If the problem continues, you will experience more serious symptoms like very stiff clutch pedals, refusal to shift gears, complete failure of the clutch mechanism, and even cause the fingers of the pressure plate to quickly wear.

Shopping for Hydraulic Throwout Bearings

There are several designs of HRBs available in the market. First, there's the floating bearing. These bearings work pretty much like regular release bearings, except for the fact that they're engaged via hydraulics rather than of mechanics. Then there's the fixed release bearing, which is either physically bolted to the inside of the bell housing, or to the transmission. High-performance HRBs provide a quick clutch response in that the bearings self-adjust for wear once they are properly adjusted for clearance. When shopping for HRBs, you should go for ones that fit your needs because different types are best suited for different applications. To ensure you get superior performance, ensure your new selection is a direct fit to your car model, not to mention, designed to meet or exceed OEM standards.

Prevention Tips

In case your car suffers any of the above symptoms; you should get it fixed immediately. This will keep the vehicle functioning efficiently, safe, and avoid spending a fortune on repairs and replacements. To help you avoid such severe effects of a bad hydraulic throwout bearing, here are a few prevention tips:Follow up on routine maintenance: The best way to ensure the HRBs are well-serviced at all times is through ongoing inspections. Ultimately, this prolongs your car's life and ensures any failures are detected early on before the damaging effects occur. This procedure also involves routine clutch replacement, which should also include replacement of the release bearing.Adjust your driving habits: The easiest way to prolong the HRBs' lifespan is to adjust the way you engage the clutch. Minimize the amount of time the clutch pedal is depressed. For instance, when you stop at the red light you could bring the car to neutral and release the clutch pedal, rather than keeping your foot pressed down on the clutch.Hire an automotive expert: Bearing problems can a bit difficult to detect since a faulty clutch can be caused by several other issues. That's why it's best to consult a professional in case of any issues to ensure your car is getting the right fix.

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