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Tech: A 4WD Clutch To Help Out Off-Road

Posted on Feb 18, 2016
By Steven Olsewski


Off-road modifications happen all the time, but for those with a manual transmission the clutch can be an area that is often neglected. For help with our four-wheel drive 1995 Jeep Cherokee we turned to Mantic Clutch and its 4WD line of clutches.

In the past performance clutches have been meant more for street cars. The need for a clutch that could perform well off-road was what Mantic went after. For this install we went with the ER² 4WD2294 clutch.

Looks aren't everything, this Jeep has seen plenty of time on the trail.

Looks aren’t everything! This Jeep has seen plenty of time on the trail.

The Install

We brought our Cherokee into the shop and got it on our Bendpak lift. Nothing special was required for this install, and required simply dropping the transmission and replacing the clutch.

Once in the air, we disconnected the shifter from the the transmission tunnel. The linkage and wire harnesses were next to get disconnected. With everything parted from the transmission, it was time to lower it down.

It was time to start disconnecting everything that went to the transmission and transfer case.

To make our install easier, we dropped the transfer case with the transmission. The transmission broke free from the motor and went down on our Ranger transmission jack. With the old clutch out, we had a side-by-side comparison of the design and look.

The old clutch did not look to be too damaged, but sitting next to the Mantic 4WD clutch made it look like a part from the Stone Age. The clutches visually were worlds apart.


With the old pressure plate out it was time to compare to the new Mantic 4WD pressure plate. The grooves and vents on the new clutch plate would allow for more torque.

With the factory pressure plate and cover out, it was time to install the new parts into the Jeep. Reinstalling everything the way we had taken it out made for quick work. While we had the clutch out, we decided to also replace the flywheel. Though it is not required on the install, we decided to do it since everything was apart, as well as to give a new clean surface for the new clutch.

All of the factory bolts were reused with the Mantic clutch. We used a clutch tool to align everything and get the transmission back in the vehicle, we then attached the transmission back to the motor, torqued the bolts, and reconnected all of the harnesses and linkages. Now that the install was complete, we can look forward to being in the dirt in no time.


The Technical Stuff

With any performance part there is plenty of R&D that goes into it, and Mantic’s 4WD clutch is no exception. We had the chance to speak with Geoffrey Gerko to ask about the design and materials that were used in the off-road clutch.

What materials where chosen to make the clutch?

Geoffrey Gerko: The disc is composed of an organic lining on the clutch side and a cerametallic lining on the flywheel side. The casting in the clutch itself is spheroidal graphite, which is about 300 percent stronger than the traditional nodular iron.

Why were these materials chosen?

GG: The combination of friction materials on the disc increases torque capacity as well as reducing wear. The better casting material enables the machining of the ER² pattern as well as creating a stronger casting overall.

What differentiates the 4WD clutch from other Mantic clutches?

GG: The main difference is that the 4WD line of clutches puts a bit more emphasis on smooth engagement and drivability. This helps our customers save driveline components, as well as put more power to the terrain.

How was the product tested?

GG: Extensive enthusiast applications across vast terrain in Australia. The continent has just about every condition imaginable. We also did some proprietary testing with the military and modified armored vehicles as well.


Was this clutch specifically designed for off-road use?

GG: Yes, extensive design work has been done to ensure that the 4WD product line best suits off-roading needs. These clutches go beyond just swapping in a performance automotive clutch.

How does this product perform better off-road than other clutches?

GG: The 4WD with ER² transmits more torque with better drivability and less shock to the driveline.


What does the vented clutch design do?

GG: The real key to the 4WD success is the application of the patented ER² technology. This pattern achieves a few unique advantages for Mantic. The biggest advantage is the increase in the mean effective radius, which enables these clutches to transmit up to 60 percent more torque. That is coupled with an increase in clamp load, which further increases torque capacity. The grooves are slightly tapered, which aides in cooling, and thus the friction material can work more efficiently at a lower temperature.


Putting The Clutch To The Test

Mantic Clutch recommends a 300-mile break-in period before really getting on it. With the clutch broken in we were able to go test the clutch in the Jeep off-road and see the difference that it made. Just backing out of the shop, the difference in the clutch was apparent. The feeling of pushing the clutch in was a lot smoother than it was before.

The new clutch makes it a lot easier driving off-road, and there is a night and day difference. The clutch engages with less effort than the factory clutch as you do not need to release it as much to get engagement.

With the clutch being more controllable it makes driving a manual off-road much more enjoyable. The largest difference we could feel was in our leg. The new Mantic clutch makes driving more comfortable on long trails compared to the factory clutch.