How to Change Car Clutch Cables

Throttle cables and gear change cables - clutch cables - are vital components for any vehicle, not least a car. Without them, you simply could not drive! 

Over time, cables become worn, damaged and frayed, and it is important you change and replace them in order to ensure the safety of you and those around you whilst driving. Premium grade car cables, such as Venhill’s, can also help improve the performance of a car, something worth noting for anyone racing or making long-journeys. 

Here at Venhill we have been manufacturing high quality replacement cables for over 50 years. 

In this article, we provide an overview of when and how to change car clutch cables, as well as tips on buying the best cables to increase their lifespan.

When Should You Replace your Cables? 

When it comes to car clutch cables, they may well need replacing without showing clear exterior damage. 

If you find that the gears are difficult to engage, the pedal action is stiff, or there is any sign that the clutch pedal is reluctant to come back up again, then the chances are that the clutch cable is damaged. This could be due to the inner wire being frayed and the ends snagging on the outer Teflon. 

Other possible causes are that the cable needs lubricating, or that it has fallen close to the exhaust pipe and been damaged by the heat.

Another possible problem with a cable-operated clutch is that the pedal flops uselessly to the floor. There are two possible reasons for this. The first is that the cable has simply broken, though you should have had warning of this by the clutch becoming increasingly stiff to operate, as mentioned. The only remedy here is to fit a new cable.

Poor engine performance or braking performance may highlight problems with the cables. Spongy brakes are a common result of brake cables that have worn and stretched. 

Your manual may also highlight when cables need replacing which can help offer some guidance as to when they have reached the end of their lifespan. 

If in doubt, get an expert’s opinion and head to a garage. They can quickly run some tests and inspect the cables to determine if they need replacing or not. 

How to Change and Replace Car Cables

  1. Find the problem 

If the clutch feels stiff, you should first inspect the entire clutch cable. 

Start where it is connected to the clutch pedal under the dash and follow it until it disappears into the bulkhead. 

Look for signs of the inner cable fraying. The fractured strands may lie very close to the inner cable and be difficult to distinguish, so look very carefully.

If there are no signs of damage at the pedal end, find where the cable emerges from the engine bulkhead and follow it down to the clutch housing. Look for areas that are broken or for kinks that might restrict the inner cable.

If the cable runs close to the exhaust pipe, check that it hasn't slipped out of place and got too close to the pipe. The heat may have melted the outer cable's plastic covering.

If the cable is undamaged, it may simply require lubricating.

  1. Find quality cables

The next job is to find some quality replacement cables

Not all car cables are created equally so ensure you replace your old cables with premium cables that will last the test of time. Stainless steel wiring and Teflon lines, those used at Venhill, are examples of materials likely to produce a cable that lasts much longer than regular cables.

Note: make sure to determine the correct length required - cars come in all shapes and sizes!

  1. Disconnect the cable from clutch lever, pedal and outer casing

To start the cable replacement, loosen the adjuster and locknut that holds the cable in place. Once this is loosened, the cable should become slack and you’ll be able to remove it.

Find where the cable fits to the top of the pedal. The simplest way it could be held is via a nipple or hook on the end that fits into a slot in the cable. Here, you simply use pliers to pull the cable out of the slot.

With the inner cable now free at both ends, the outer one has to be disconnected. Find where the cable fits through a hole in the clutch housing. Pull the cable from the hole (it is just a push-fit).

The cable will now be held in place only at the bulkhead and should simply pull free.

  1. Attach new cable and fasten

Before you fit the cable, lubricate it thoroughly using the correct type of lubricant. 

Grease the working area of the clutch lever with high melting-point grease to ensure smooth operation.

Reconnect the cable, starting at the bulkhead. When you route the cable, make sure it fits through all the guide brackets and clips and is well away from the exhaust pipe. 

Fit the outer cable through its hole in the clutch housing, then reconnect the inner cable at the pedal and at the clutch lever. Don't forget to refit the protective rubber grommet, if necessary.

Buy Premium Car Clutch Cables Online with Venhill 

In 1970, Venhill started making high quality replacement cables for motocross bikes. Since then, our fitment list has expanded to include motocross and track motorcycles, both modern and classic, and of all shapes and sizes. It also, now, includes our premium cabling for cars, karts, and quads, as well as control cables for industrial applications. 

Purchase our car clutch cables >

Our throttle and gear change cables are specifically designed to combat common cable problems outlined above - like catching, wear, stretching and also bowing, bursting and leaking.

We offer a range of throttle cables and gear change cable kits, all of which include everything you need to get started. Finished at one end, cut to length and finished as required, our range of different size cables and fittings ensure you can find one best suited to your requirements.

For further advice, and for the purchase of top-quality cables, get in touch with one of our expert team or browse our online shop today