Car Shakes When Releasing Clutch in First Gear

You start your car engine in first gear. And suddenly you feel a rattle. No, it wasn’t any sort of tremor, it was your car shaking. But why? 

But why does the car shakes when releasing clutch in first gear?

Your car shakes in first gear due to clutch issues. The issue could be fluid leakage, damaged monitor mounts, or even because of the type of clutch. The clutch itself and the flywheel might be damaged. Some of these problems can be solved by yourself but mostly you will need professional help. 

Well, that’s not all. If you want to solve the problem properly, then you need more detailed information. But hey! No need to worry. We have all the details that you would want to know to solve this issue.

So, what’s stopping you? Let’s fix your car!

The Issue and the Clutch

The rattling issue of the car is possibly clutch related. It could be due to old friction material or even defective pressure plates. 

Now if the problem is with the clutch, then you will need to determine the exact cause. Whether the issue is just mechanical or whether the clutch has contamination. The contamination could be because of an engine oil leak.

The clutch is a really important part of the car. It helps in the safe operations of the vehicle and a damaged clutch can quickly harm other parts. That in turn can make the clutch shakes in first gear.

The clutch system in a car engages different gears while the car drives. When you are in your first gear, the clutch encounters the most torque load. That is because getting the car to start running from a complete stop requires a lot of power.

And that might make your car shake when you shift it to the first gear. And not any other gear. 

Fixing the Shaking Issue

Now we have identified the issue to be caused by the clutch system of your car. But the problem will not resolve itself magically. You are going to need some equipment for this repair. They are:

  • Ratchet, Extensions
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Sheet of paper
  • Metric Socket Set
  • Shop Rags

Gather all of these to make sure that you can work properly, without hindrance. And with the tools gathered, it is time to actually start working. 

Step 1: Inspecting the Fluid 

Inspecting the transmission fluid should be your first course of action if you face this issue. Many times the issue could be solved by something as simple as replacing the transmission fluid. So before getting your hands dirty, check and replace the transmission fluid.

The transmission fluid can be found in different places in different cars. But generally, it is behind the distributor in the car’s engine. You should see the transmission dipstick, sometimes yellow in color. 

To begin with, you have to get rid of the dipstick. After that, you must inspect two things. 

Firstly, ensure that the level of fluid has surpassed the crosshatch, And secondly, make sure that the fluid you have inside is light in color.

Now the transmission fluid might be in decent condition. But it might be low on quantity. In that case, fill it up. 

But the fluid might look black or give off a burnt smell. In that case, flush the transmission and replace the transmission fluid. 

Elevate the car in order to identify the fill and drain plugs that are under the transmission. Unscrew the bolts from underneath the drain plug, and refill the transmission. Do the refilling through the upper fill plug. 

The price of new transmission fluids can vary. But generally, it is around $10 to $20 for one quart.

In the most unfortunate turn of events, you may see a leak near the torque converter. Leaks in the clutch will cause more than just rattling in first gear. It’ll also make it tougher to change gears and make the clutch pedal go all the way down.

A fluid leak in the clutch is usually a sign of a more severe issue. In that case, the price solution will be the best. Get a mechanic to have it fixed before the problem worsens.

If you find the transmission fluid to be in working condition, move on to the next step. 

Step 2: Inspecting the Motors Mounts

Another cause behind your shaking car might be broken or cracked motor mounts. As it is unable to fully decouple the car and the vibration from engaging into first gear.

To check the motor mounts you will need a sheet of paper. Take the paper and attempt sliding it in between the frame and the mount. It looks like a solid connection to the naked eye. 

But know that the motor mounts are loose if the sheet is able to slide between them. The mounts might even be damaged. 

You must get new mounts ASAP if you got some damaged motor mounts. It is because the other mounts may crack due to the force from the engine. 

In case the motor mounts are too stiff, you should swap with softer mounts. That should also resolve the shaking issue.

Fortunately, you can replace motor mounts yourself. A new set of motor mounts should be priced around  $40 and $500. A $150 charge should be expected if you consult a mechanic on this issue for labor cost.

If your motor mount is okay, the paper does not slip through, then go to the next step. 

Step 3: Checking the Type of Clutch 

Puck-like discs are pretty common these days. Especially when you look into cars that have upgraded engines and better horsepower.

Pluck-type clutches feature a stronger catch and a stronger grip. And they are less likely to slip. 

But, pluck clutches are quite a bit harder for regular driving use. To top it off, they are infamous for chattering, especially during the first gear. 

So the whole shaking could be because of your car’s type of clutch. In that case, replacing the pluck type with a full-face clutch disc is recommended. The new clutch kit may cost upwards of $55.

Well, if you are confused about what clutch kit to buy, then don’t worry. We have assembled some quality clutch kits for you. Have a look!

These are the best in the market. Hopefully, these will help you with your delima!

You know the drill by now. If you do not have a problem with the pluck-type clutch, skip to the next section. 

Step 4: Inspecting the Clutch and Flywheel

Another common reason for your car shaking might be contamination in the clutch and flywheel.

You will have to remove the transmission completely to properly check the clutch and flywheel. Leaked oil on any of the two internal components of the transmission can cause issues. Especially slippage and chattering in the first gear.

Now the design of clutches let them slip a bit while first engaging the clutch or gear change. This provides a smooth ride. And after the clutch has completely engaged there should not be any more slippage. 

Mostly the slipping happens when the car is carrying a load or going up a slope. The slippage causes the clutch to get hot and ultimately damages the flywheel. 

Normal usage can also cause slipping in the clutch. Slipping can heat up the clutch, resulting in burned clutch and damage to the flywheel. The fix to this problem is a tad bit tough. You will need to completely clean or replace the clutch and flywheel. 

But do not worry right now!. whether the components need replacement depends on how much damage has been caused by contamination and slippage.


What is clutch shudder?

The primary shudder which happens when a damaged clutch disk or clutch component first engages is called Clutch chatter. This shaking or vibration may cause the entire vehicle to vibrate. It is generally the result of old or contaminated components of the clutch.

Is clutch judder serious?

The clutch judder can be a serious issue. The primary shudder which happens when a damaged clutch disk or clutch component first engages is called Clutch chatter. Issues regarding the clutch could be the reason behind such a problem. These problems sometimes may be severe. 

How often should you be changing a clutch?

Generally, most clutches need to be replaced after approximately 60,000 miles. But the number can vary depending on the car, the way you drive, the clutch itself, and many other things. Some clutches can even last for 100.000 miles. 


With that, we know so much more about why the car shakes when releasing clutch in first gear. The problem is primarily associated with problems in the clutch. 

Diagnose the clutch as we mentioned and hopefully, you will be able to fix your car! Simply follow the steps accordingly and your problem will be solved in no time.

That’s it for today. Drive safe!

Rob Dahm

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