Pilot Bearing vs. Throwout Bearing Noise: How to Tell the Difference

I am here with this blog on pilot bearing vs. throwout bearing noise. I will unravel the mystery behind the noises to diagnose, address, and restore the tranquility of your clutch.

Imagine cruising down the open road, feeling your vehicle’s power as you shift gears effortlessly. Suddenly, an unfamiliar noise disrupts the harmony of your drive. Either it can be pilot bearing or throwout bearing noise. Hence, these two vital components are the parts of a well-functioning clutch system.

So, what exactly are a pilot bearing and a throwout bearing? How do they support the transmission input shaft? How do they engage and disengage the clutch?

I guess you find these questions a bit complicated. Since I already have told you, I will inform you about these two components in this blog. So, I encourage you to read and get things solved.

Quick Overview: Pilot Bearing vs. Throwout Bearing Noise

ParametersPilot BearingThrowout Bearing
FunctionSupports the transmission input shaftEngages and disengages the clutch
NoiseWhining or grinding noiseChirping or squealing noise
Noise VariationLouder when the clutch is engaged or disengagedLouder when the clutch is fully engaged
Noise during AccelerationNoticeableNoticeable
Car VibrationsIt may cause minimal vibrationsNo significant impact on vibrations
Clutch Pedal StickingNo impact on the clutch pedalIt may cause the clutch pedal to stick
Diagnosis/Mechanic’s assessmentRequiredRequired
Importance of Prompt ActionAs soon as possibleAs soon as possible

Now, you have the basic ideas about the differences between the noise of these two types of bearings. Let me share these things in detail. First, I will give you definitions of these two bearings.

What is a Pilot Bearing?

Ah, the pilot bearing – a small but mighty component within the clutch system. You may know it as bushing. Its primary purpose is to support and stabilize the transmission input shaft. Through this, it ensures smooth and precise rotation.

I suggest you imagine the transmission input shaft as a delicate spindle. It transmits rotational power from the engine to the transmission. Hence, this shaft may wobble or become misaligned if the pilot bearing is supported and guided. Eventually, there may appear different issues.

The transmission input shaft must smoothly engage and disengage with the engine’s flywheel while engaging the clutch. The bushing sits at the center of the flywheel. It provides a low-friction interface for the input shaft. Without a functional pilot bearing, the clutch system’s performance may suffer. It will invite annoying vibrations, noise, and even premature wear of other clutch components.

So, why does the pilot bearing sometimes make noise?

The pilot bearing can wear out for continuous rotation and friction over time. If there is a lack of proper lubrication or incorrect installation, it can also contribute to its deterioration.

When the pilot bearing wears down, it may emit distinct noises like squeaking, grinding, or rattling during clutch operation.

What is a Throwout Bearing?

The throwout bearing takes center stage in the clutch system. It is also referred to as a release bearing. However, the throwout bearing is critical in engaging and disengaging the clutch.

The primary purpose of it is to facilitate the smooth operation of the clutch. It translates the force applied on the clutch pedal into the necessary movements within the system.

Let me share with you a scenario. Your foot is on the clutch pedal, ready to shift gears. When you press the clutch pedal, it activates the throwout bearing. Then, it exerts pressure on the pressure plate. This pressure causes the pressure plate to disengage from the clutch disc. Thus, it interrupts the power flow between the engine and the transmission.

The throwout bearing consists of an inner race, outer race, rolling elements, and a bearing retainer. It can withstand the constant friction and load of clutch engagement and disengagement. But it is not entirely immune to wear and tear.

Over time, excessive heat, lack of lubrication, or improper installation can contribute to its deterioration. Consequently, a worn-out throwout bearing may produce various noises. It may be a high-pitched squeal or a grinding sound when you press the clutch pedal.

Identifying Noises

In this section, you will learn how to detect a noise caused by a pilot bearing or throwout bearing.

Pilot Bearing Noise

Various symptoms may be noticeable that refer to pilot bearing noise. Some of the symptoms are:

Unusual Sounds

A problematic pilot bearing causes unusual sounds during clutch operation. These sounds may include whining, grinding, or rattling noises.


A worn-out or damaged pilot bearing can cause noticeable vibrations during clutch operation. You will feel unusual vibrations from the clutch pedal or the transmission while engaging or disengaging the clutch.

Difficulties in Gear Shifting

As the pilot bearing wears down, it can affect the smoothness of gear shifts. You may experience difficulties or resistance when trying to shift gears. Especially when you shift into first gear or reverse. It means a faulty pilot bearing causes misalignment or instability.

Clutch Slippage

Clutch slippage occurs when the clutch does not fully engage or disengage. It leads to a loss of power transmission. If accelerating from a stop or during gear change causes a decrease in power or acceleration, possibly the pilot bearing has some problems.

Throwout Bearing Noise

Here are some key indicators to help you identify throwout bearing noise:

High-Pitched Squeal

A throwout bearing noise is commonly a high-pitched squealing sound when you press the clutch pedal. It often occurs as the bearing spins against the pressure plate or the clutch fork. Hence, the pitch and intensity of the squeal vary due to the severity of the bearing’s condition.

Grinding Noise

In more advanced cases of throwout bearing wear or damage, you may hear a grinding noise when operating the clutch. It is typically caused by metal-to-metal contact between the worn bearing and the pressure plate or clutch fork.

Rattling or Clattering Sounds

A worn-out throwout bearing may produce rattling or clattering noises. It may happen when you release the clutch pedal or the vehicle is idling. These noises indicate excessive play or looseness within the bearing.

Vibration and Feedback

Faulty throwout bearings can cause noticeable vibrations and feedback through the clutch pedal. When pressing or releasing the clutch pedal, you may experience vibrations or a pulsating sensation.

Why Do These Noises Happen?

In this part, I explain why you will hear noise from the pilot bearing and throwout bearings.

Pilot Bearing Noise

Pilot-bearing noise can arise for various reasons that affect its functionality and performance. Here are some of them:

Wear and Tear

The continuous rotation and friction can cause the pilot bearing to wear down. As the bearing wears, it may develop rough surfaces or become misaligned. It leads to noise during clutch operation.

Lack of Lubrication

Insufficient or improper lubrication may cause increased friction and heat generation. It may elevate the bearing to wear out faster and produce noise.

Incorrect Installation

Incorrect seating or alignment with the flywheel can cause excessive vibration and noise. It may happen during clutch engagement or disengagement.


Contaminants like dirt, debris, or moisture can enter the pilot bearing assembly. They may interfere with the smooth rotation of the bearing. Therefore, you will hear noise when you use the clutch.

Excessive Heat

Excessive heat can cause the pilot bearing to expand. As a result, it loses its lubricating properties. Then, you may hear noise from it.

Aggressive Driving Habits

Aggressive driving techniques like rapid clutch engagement or riding the clutch can stress the pilot bearing more. It can speed up its wear and increase the likelihood of noise development.

Throwout Bearing Noise

Like pilot bearing, there are also some common causes of throwout bearing noise:

Wear and Tear

The throwout bearing can wear and tear with time. Continuous engagement and disengagement of the clutch can cause the bearing to deteriorate. Then, it creates noise due to increased friction.

Insufficient Lubrication

Insufficient or degraded lubrication can cause increased friction and heat generation. In this way, you may hear noise of throwout bearing.

Contaminants and Debris

Like the pilot bearing, the presence of dirt, dust, or debris in the clutch can resist the smooth operation of the throwout bearing. They misalign the bearing and cause damage to it. Thus, you will hear the throwout-bearing noise.

Improper Installation

I assume you did not fail to install or align the bearing correctly with the clutch assembly. If you fail, you may experience excessive vibration and noise during clutch operation.

Excessive Clutch Pedal Force

Applying excessive force to the clutch pedal may put additional stress on the throwout bearing. It will cause wear and tear on the bearing. Eventually, the noise will appear.

Throwout Bearing Design or Quality

In some cases, noise issues may arise from the design or quality of the throwout bearing itself. So, you should replace the low-quality bearing with a better-recommended one.

Resolving Bearing Noise Issues

In this part, I share the multiple ways to prevent or treat the noise of pilot bearings and throwout bearings.Some effective methods for resolving bearing noise issues are:

Bearing Replacement

You should replace the pilot bearing or throwout bearing if you find it worn, damaged, or causing excessive noise. You may seek a qualified mechanic or automotive professional to remove the old one and install another one. However, I suggest you use premium quality bearings for your vehicle for longevity and optimal performance.


You may consider lubricating it with top-notch lubricant if you don’t need or want to replace the bearing. It will reduce friction and unwanted noise. Thus, it may not be the long-term solution to get relief from the noise.

Correct Installation

You should install the bearings with the correct alignment in theright position. In this case, you may call assistance from a professional to inspect the bearings and clutch assembly. Also, you may ask him to examine all the clutch parts, like the pressure plate, clutch disc, and flywheel. They may cause noise from the bearings.

Correcting Driving Habits

Driving habits can influence the longevity of the throwout bearing. If you prefer rapid clutch engagement or riding it, you may put extra pressure on the bearings. So, I suggest you determine smooth clutch engagements and disengagements to minimize stress on the bearing. It will prevent noise too.

Regular Maintenance

To prevent future bearing noise issues, you should follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle. Regular inspections, lubrication, and adjustments can help identify and address potential problems before they escalate.

Professional Maintenance

You may contact a qualified mechanic or automotive professional if you have insufficient time or necessary expertise. They will inspect, identify, and treat if there is any problem causing the noises.

What Do People Say About Pilot Bearing vs. Throwout Bearing Noise?

An owner of a 98’ Civic EX Manual D16y8describes the noise problem in a forum thread in this way:

  • Clutch Out (Engaged) – Noise, Chattering
  • Clutch In (Disengaged) – Noise goes away.

He also added:

  • Noise increases with RPMs with the clutch engaged (driving).
  • No noise when revving with the clutch pushed in (disengaged).

The reply to this post is, “Sounds like it’s your throwout bearing.”

In another forum post, I found that,

A worn pilot bushing/bearing will make a scuffing non-metallic sound, and you will feel a fast vibration come up through the shifter.

A jeep owner askedon this thread if his beast has a faulty throwout bearing as it created noise. He got a reply in this way,

“A bad or going bad TOB only makes noise when the clutch is depressed. If you have a noise when the clutch is disengaged, welcome to the input shaft bearing.”

You may find various conversations regarding the noises of pilot bearings or throwout bearings on the web. Reading those conversations may help you to get more ideas though I have explained them well already.


Now, it’s time to draw down the curtain of the topic “pilot bearing vs. throwout bearing noise.” I assume you have understood the facts well. Therefore, you should maintain the vehicle well by regularly inspecting and taking necessary care.

Proper diagnosis and techniques such as noise localization, visual inspection, clutch pedal feel evaluation is essential. Also, a professional appraisal can help accurately identify the noise source. You may replace the bearings, lubricate, install them correctly, and inspect the clutch system for better maintenance.

I hope you hear no such noise from pilot bearing or throwout bearing ever again. Thanks!

Leave a Comment