Know-How Notes: How to Use a Clutch Alignment Tool

Know-How Notes: How to Use a Clutch Alignment Tool

Installing a new clutch is an exercise in frustration, mainly because you have to manhandle a giant transmission underneath your car. The last thing you want to do is have to start all over because the clutch disc slipped out of alignment and won’t engage with the input shaft. Save yourself some time and effort and use a clutch alignment tool to make sure this does not happen to you.

The input shaft of a manual transmission is what connects the clutch disc to the rotating assembly of the engine. Your clutch must have the right splines, and so does your alignment tool.

The input shaft of a manual transmission is what connects the clutch disc to the rotating assembly of the engine. Your clutch must have the right splines, and so does your alignment tool.

These tools often come with a complete clutch kit, but if you are just replacing the clutch disc only, it may not. The tools are very simple, made from injection molded plastic or nylon, you need the tool that matches your transmission. This is a matter of knowing the spline count on the input shaft. If the splines don’t line up, it won’t work. Do not try to fudge it with a tool that does not fully engage the spines. If your clutch alignment tool does not fit the pilot bearing/bushing, it is the wrong one, you need to get the correct one.

On the back of the engine, the flywheel bolts to the crank. Inside the crank is a recess for the bearing. The tip of the clutch alignment tool locks into the bearing, keeping your clutch in place.

On the back of the engine, the flywheel bolts to the crank. Inside the crank is a recess for the bearing. The tip of the clutch alignment tool locks into the bearing, keeping your clutch in place.

 

The clutch has two sides, one side is usually marked to the flywheel, they must be installed correctly.

The clutch has two sides, one side is usually marked to the flywheel, they must be installed correctly.

First, insert the tool into the clutch disc. Make sure the clutch is facing the correct direction. The tool should stick all the way through the spines on the disc. Then place the clutch on the flywheel, and engage the alignment tool into the pilot bushing or bearing in the center of the crankshaft. Push the clutch tight to the flywheel.

The tool goes into the clutch disc, and then the tool is installed into the bearing on the flywheel. It should not move around at all.

The tool goes into the clutch disc, and then the tool is installed into the bearing on the flywheel. It should not move around at all.

With the clutch on the flywheel, install the pressure plate to the flywheel and start the bolts.

Next, the pressure plate is installed and the bolts started. There will be a gap between the plate and the flywheel until the bolts are tightened.

Next, the pressure plate is installed and the bolts started. There will be a gap between the plate and the flywheel until the bolts are tightened.

Wiggle the alignment tool to make sure it is fully engaged and seated in the pilot bushing/bearing. Tighten the pressure plate bolts in a criss-cross pattern and then torque to spec.

Each bolt must be torqued to spec in a criss-cross pattern, using a three-step process (hand-tight, half-torque, full torque).

Each bolt must be torqued to spec in a criss-cross pattern, using a three-step process (hand-tight, half-torque, full torque).

The clutch alignment tool stays in the clutch until you are ready to install the transmission. While the pressure place should hold the clutch from moving, don’t take the risk of pulling the tool out too soon. Once the transmission is ready to install, pop the tool out, and slide the transmission into place.

Every application has a different clutch tool. These three tools look similar, and may even mesh together, but they are all different. The two on the right are 26-splines and 48-splines.

Every application has a different clutch tool. These three tools look similar, and may even mesh together, but they are all different. The two on the right are 26-splines and 48-splines.

 

The left tool is 48-spline, the right tool is 25-spline. Notice the size difference?

The left tool is 48-spline, the right tool is 25-spline. Notice the size difference?

 

Most clutch tools are marked on the top, this one says "GM 26", that means it fits General Motors 26-spline clutches.

Most clutch tools are marked on the top, this one says “GM 26”, that means it fits General Motors 26-spline clutches.

That is all there is to using a clutch alignment tool. Make sure you keep the tool. You may not use it very often, but when you need one, you will be glad you kept it.

Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to use a clutch alignment tool, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store. You can also check out NAPASafety.com for our entire line of safety products.

 

about author

Jefferson Bryant

A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.

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