When the clutch pedal is pressed, it pushes on the release bearing, which makes contact with the pressure plate.
When the pressure plate is compressed by the bearing, it moves backwards, separating from the friction plate, which remains spinning with the flywheel as the gears are changed.
As soon as the gear has been changed, the clutch pedal is released again, the pressure plate moves back into contact with the friction plate, restarting transmission to the gearbox.
Most problems with the clutch could be avoided by changing gear properly. Riding (resting your foot on the clutch) or slipping (keeping the clutch pedal down once the gear has been changed) are both common ways the clutch can become damaged.
If you leave your foot on the clutch pedal, even if it is barely down, the clutch will engage slightly, causing the friction plate to rub against the pressure plate. This generates a huge amount of heat, which will damage the friction plate and can also break a dual-mass flywheel.
- Always make sure your foot is fully lifted off the clutch.
- Never hold the clutch pedal down once in gear, for example at a red light.
- Try and change gear smoothly, without jamming or slipping the clutch plate.