Best Clutch for Cummins NV4500 & 5600: 3 Proven Brands
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Clutches: expensive, intricate…and the key to a properly functioning manual transmission.
Look, I know getting a subpar clutch kit sucks. On the other hand, I’ve often seen people go beyond their budget and actual needs with their purchases.
If we’re talking best clutch for NV4500, three brands I recommend are the iconic South Bend Clutch or Valair, and the lesser-known ClutchMAX.
More specifically, here are their best kits:
You don’t always have to go big
Alright, so before I cover anything else, let’s talk about getting the optimal clutch for your NV4500 or NV5600 Cummins.
I’ve seen this time and time again: people go absolutely ham with their replacements. Then they complain about noise, awful shifting and other ‘faults’ such as the clutch being too grabby, etc.
Always get a clutch that covers your actual needs and fits your truck’s purpose. We’re talking torque, horsepower, and towing capacity as benchmarks here.
Are you more of a daily driver? Then you don’t even remotely need a dual disc clutch. Not only will you spend way too much money, but your truck will also screech and shift.
Into lighter towing? A single disc clutch like this South Bend option or a Valair equivalent will fit the bill. As long as it’s up to 15k towing capacity and ~900 lbs of torque, you’re fine.
Looking for some heavy hauls and extreme towing? That’s the right time for a proper dual disc setup.
The South Bend SDD3250-5 clutch goes up to 30k of pure towing capacity and is optimal with more powerful setups at 550-750 horsepower. 1300 lbs of torque means you’ll be pulling through hills and whatnot with zero issues.
Keep in mind it’s noticeably stiffer than any OEM clutch, and its chatter can get loud when shifting to higher gears. But that applies to most dual disc clutches.
A note on noise: Clutches coming with a solid flywheel will always emit a gear rollover noise due to their construction. One way to diminish this noise is to use thicker oil.
Additionally, running on higher RPMs will diminish some noise generation. Neutral to idle is where dual disc clutches are the loudest.
Extremely powerful dual disc setup for heavy towing. 30k towing capacity, 1300 torque and 650 HP-ready. Fits both NV4500 and NV5600.
Best clutch for Cummins NV4500:
The market leaders
Out of these three brands, two are the unspoken market leaders. I’m talking about South Bend Clutch and Valair, of course. You’ll see their name popping up anytime a Cummins clutch replacement’s on the horizon.
I’ve also recommended both as clutch replacements on the newer G56 transmission too.
So here’s the thing: Valair clutches are significantly cheaper than their South Bend counterparts.
It’s not due to lower quality or anything like this. Both brands actually make their clutches in the US.
It’s just that South Bend has been around the longest. You’re essentially paying a premium for the name most of the time.
Arguably, South Bend clutches offer two distinctive improvements:
- SB has a slightly better lineup for NV4500/NV5600 Cummins daily drivers.
- A lot of their clutches feature Kevlar pilot bushings for enhanced durability.
Both brands offer a generous lineup of single or dual disc clutches for NV4500 or NV5600. In their kits, they use organic and ceramic discs depending on the application.
An important thing to note is that some Valair kits don’t include flywheels so you’ll need to source a flywheel center bore.
Dodge Cummins clutch brands:
The lesser known runner-up
Clutch MAX is a rather unknown brand. Cheesy as the name sounds, these guys still manufacture their clutch kits on US soil. More accurately, their facilities are located in Michigan and Georgia.
Let’s be honest: CM is nowhere as established as Valair or South Bend Clutch. Their clutches can be cheaper for comparable applications.
For daily driving or lighter clutch needs, you can give them a shot. For heavy-duty use, I’d recommend you stick to the established market leaders.
I’ve seen Clutch Max get used a lot in Japanese cars for street use: Honda, Nissan, and even some older Mazda models. The feedback has been overall decent; a friend of mine has been riding with their clutches for 20k miles already.
Curiously enough, they make single disc or dual disc clutches for the Cummins NV4500 too. Keep in mind that the particular kit I recommend here is not compatible with the NV5600 transmission.
How to install your new Cummins NV4500 clutch
I was on the lookout for good demonstration videos, and I’m happy I could find one. There’s a drought of proper DIY guides to replacing the clutch on your Dodge Cummins 5.9 NV4500.
Here’s a great walkthrough. The guy here is installing a South Bend clutch. The video’s a bit old, but not that much has changed about product design over the past 10 years anyways:
Are these the only three brands you can select from? Not really, no. However, these three – and more particularly, the two market leaders Valair and South Bend are the standard choice for clutch replacements.
Should you go to any community forum, you’d see similar opinions echoed throughout the discussions.
Ultimately, all are fine as long as you stay within your needs and your truck’s means. Even the best clutch would feel clunky and might even compromise your truck if the application’s wrong.
I’ve been writing about older Dodge generations recently. Check my guide to 2nd gen Dodge aftermarket headlights too, if you’re interested. As far as old & new makes are concerned, I have this post on Dodge Ram steering stabilizers too.
Best of luck with your clutch adventures!
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