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Guest Message by DevFuse

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SOA didn't fix my clutch-shudder problem!

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164 replies to this topic

#51 Guest_greg in IN_*

Guest_greg in IN_*
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Posted 25 May 2002 - 05:46 PM

This is Mike Shields of SPD response to my inquiry on the clutch chatter:

"The fact is that the relatively hard lining of the clutch disk gives the car such incredible clutch wear mileage is prone to a slight chatter condition when cold. This sensation is make more noticeable by the five drive shafts in the car. Their relatively light inertia make them prone to 'ringing' in response to the cold clutch chatter. This usually goes away in the first few minutes of driving. This is a normal characteristic of the car. It can be made more noticeable at some point in time due to heat damage from excessive slippage of the clutch.

If a driver (does) not drive a manual transmission car smoothly, i.e. makes hard clutch launches from a standing start and/or causes gross slipping power on shifts, then it is possible to overheat the clutch lining, flywheel face and pressure plate. This is true of any car. This can cause damage to the clutch plate lining, altering its friction properties, can cause local damage 'hot spots' to the fly wheel and/or can cause the metal ring of the pressure plate to warp, at which point the clutch may grab on take up or have vibration at all times. It would not be a manufacturing defect, rather abnormal wear and too high heat conditions that have created the situation.

This is strictly the driver's responsibility."

The above quote references long clutch life, but I think there is some evidence that Subaru clutches aren't especially long life units.

Greg in IN

#52 Guest_zwihund_*

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Posted 29 May 2002 - 02:06 PM

This clutch shudder is not due to the outside temperature. I tracked my car problems for two months and found that outside temp made no difference. I am unsure why this is happening, but it is not the cold. What about humidity? this is a possibility. Anyway I am very unhappy with the performance due to the clutch shudder. I will follow up with SOA. I still cannot believe that Subaru has not acted with all these problems, pretty ridiculous.

#53 Guest_renobk_*

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Posted 29 May 2002 - 04:33 PM

That's interesting that you mentioned humidity, because I'm starting to think that humid conditions may make this worse. I live in Reno, Nevada (no, it's a DRY heat) where humidity is not usually a problem, and the clutch shudders unpredictably here. It's usually worse, but not necessarily. I've been spending quite a bit of time over the hill in Sacramento, CA recently where the outside temp is much higher than here, but it is far more humid and the clutch has been a nightmare over there. SOMETHING is affecting this car, but hell if I know what it is. I'm grasping at straws here, but maybe the humidity is a factor. It makes no sense. Once the car warms up for a while, it drives GREAT over there (sea level versus 4800' here) but it seems to take longer than normal for the clutch to settle down when I'm in Sac. I'm really not usually this neurotic, but I think the car is driving me crazy. :)

#54 Guest_st2eelpot_*

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Posted 30 May 2002 - 11:01 AM

Greb in IN- I find what you quoted somewhat interesting. When I took my car to the dealer to look at it they did the exact opposite.

I left the car over night so they could reproduce the problem as it was only shuddering when the car was cold (this has since changed). The next morning they were able to reproduce the shudder problem and they contacted Subaru for advice. Subaru told the mechanic to slip/burn the clutch for 3 or 4 seconds with the brakes on. This, so they claimed, was to smooth out the clutch plate surfaces. I was pretty pissed off when I found out 1) that's all subaru told them to do, and 2) they did it (without asking me!).

So, they say not to burn the clutch due to damage it could cause, as that's true of any clutch, yet that's exactly what they had the mechanic do?

I love the car, but this sucks (leaving out explicit vocabulary). It now shudders regardless of temperature (this is months later). I was in 87 degree weather the other day and it was the worst it's ever been.


Looks like it's time to print out the post and mail it to subaru again...

#55 Guest_jlawton_*

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Posted 30 May 2002 - 06:07 PM

The dealership where we took the car (outback 02) for the 15k service just replaced our entire clutch assembly saying the chattering was due to a problem with the pressure plate being out of round. We like this dealership much better than where we bought the outback (and had been to before for service with our Forester ). We told them that the original dealer considered the problem to be due to our driving style and that we were happy that it was finally being addressed. However one thing they said does trouble me, they said that the first time this kind of thing happens they'll give the customer the benefit of the doubt but if it continues to happen they will likely consider it to be a problem with how the car is being driven. They said there were no service bulletins from SOA on the problem.

So given that it took 8k or so to show up we'll see what happens.

#56 Guest_zwihund_*

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Posted 14 June 2002 - 03:34 PM

Well I am on the rampage again against SOA. They have a case open for me since my clutch shudder returned after a brand new clutch was put in by them. My dealer repair shop actually was able to reconfirm that my shudder was back and they opened the case for me. I now am in contact with soa. They stated today that Fuji Industries realizes their is a problem and they are looking into the material that makes up the clutch disk. Right now they have no fix and are unwilling to repair for the time being, they are back to the statement of this is normal characteristic of clutches period. I believe our pressure is working, Maybe I am naive sp?, but I do think all of this helps. My next step is too begin giving them notice with regards to safety. Once they are on notice for this and something happens due to the clutch hesitation shuddering then they are screwed as far as lawsuit. I definetly see this shuddering as a safety issue as well as uncomfortable, especially when pulling out to merge with traffic. Please keep up the calls and letters to SOA and the safety boards it helps!!!!! Otherwise I love my car. By the way, if this was normal why were we not informed when we bought the car that this will happen? What BS.

#57 Guest_LemonRider_*

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 07:41 PM

Has anyone had any success with SOA or their dealers in resolving this issue?

#58 Guest_warlord_*

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Posted 21 July 2002 - 09:42 PM

to me it sound like a bent flywheel.
why doesn't some on try replacing the clutch with a non oem one and also replace the flywheel again with a non oem one.

#59 Guest_renobk_*

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Posted 22 July 2002 - 03:58 PM

I replied to you over at Edmunds, too, but I'll reiterate: I don't think any of us have seen a positive resolution to the clutch mess. I have not priced too many clutches for this car, but it's an expense I'm not too willing to incur on a "new" car. Cobb Tuning has a replacement clutch for around $400 (if I remember right) plus install. That's an expensive experiement to end my clutch problems.

#60 Guest_nimeek_*

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 04:44 PM

I own a '97 5MT OB, currently 70k miles on it. I had to replace the clutch at about 60k miles because it was worn to death. At that time I wasn't sure if it was due to the previous owner's driving or if it was the clutch itself.

I agree that the clutch vibrates way too much to be normal. I've driven hondas, mazdas, toyotas, land rovers, even merc benz, all manuals (okay, so the land rover and mb were military vehicles). The passenger cars have never vibrated like this (the military vehicles, well, they were poorly maintained so let's not even go there).

However I do think that it is possible to adapt your driving style to the clutch - I've done so to some extent myself. My car still shudders, but a whole lot less than when I first got it. Sometimes I can even go days without any shudder. ;) For those of us who already own subes with shuddering clutches, I'd suggest we try to adapt our driving style, while we continue complaining to SOA. That way we hopefully minimize clutch wear on our present clutches, and sometime down the road SOA will relent and issue a recall.

I'm relieved to note that someone out there at least has gone over 100k miles in his OB without changing the clutch. Maybe there's hope for me and my new clutch. :)

Oh, and I'm probably going to put in a Kart Boys shifter instead of the OEM one. I find the current shifter a little too vague for me, and sticky at times. Some other people on this forum have said that's probably due to the tranny fluid though. Anyone out there have any comments? Thanks.

#61 Guest_drOutback_*

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 07:12 PM

if it is a problem, it's probably not because the clutch is slipping, or the flywheel is made wrong, it is because the clutch is gripping maybe to much. we have an '88 that when the clutch was new it threw off clutch release because it was much grippier. launches are hard on a car with a lot of low end torque because there is a lot of power coursing through the vehicle at low speed. it can show up as wheel wiggle, clutch jiggle, shudder, stutter or whatever you wan to call it.

#62 Guest_slideways34_*

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Posted 23 July 2002 - 10:23 PM

I don't want ot piss anyone off, but here's a thought. I have a '93 legacy 5mt. I have noticed that with the boxer engine, the car shudders easier than an inline four when starting at low rpm or being too high of gear. I attribute this to how the engine operates. The boxer's cylinders fire in pairs. So therefore the engine delivers energy pulses half as much as an inline four. That means an inline four would seem smoother than a flat four at low rpm or excessively high gearing for the speed.

That was just a thought, and does not tie in to the fact that many of you have this problem in the cold. I can report that i have had no abnormalities with my clutch in the cold.

I currently have my tranny out, getting a syncro replaced. I checked my clutch, and it needs to be replaced. After reading this thread, i am very turned off to getting a clutch from subaru. The only problem is i cannot afford a $400 aftermarket clutch at this point. Does anyone know of anything better, or is every basic clutch for the car the same?

#63 Guest_Witte_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 12:37 AM

When you "burn" a clutch its not how you heat it up, its how you cool it off, you need to be moderately gentile to it as it cools, but don't be a saint with it. Any Friction surface like a clutch disk or brake pad NEEDS a certain ammount of abuse to prevent it from forming a surface rather like a sheet of glass (as far as friction goes). Now I'm not telling you to go drive like you are in Highschool and you just got your first car, but don't act like its going to go up in smoke if you come remotely close to abusing it.

#64 Guest_drOutback_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 05:11 AM

for 4WheelDrift.... i read that article you linked to. it was great. being as that I'm going to be a mechanic I fully understand the article. remember guys you can make a clutch car do anything, burn off the tires, stall it, buck the car, burn out the clutch in 500mi, anything. Subarus are high quality cars i would rather put up with a little shudder knowing that my clutch will last 150,000mi. I heard that Britney Spears rented a manuel Ferrari and destroyed the gear box. The gearboxes fault bcause want as easy to shift? No the dumb blonde in the drivers seat.

#65 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 08:30 AM

The boxer's cylinders fire in pairs.

Is this correct? I thought one cylinder was firing while the other was on the exhaust stroke. That would make more sense to me.


#66 Guest_renobk_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 09:37 AM

In response to the suggestion that it's a matter of adapting my style to suit the clutch, I'll add that there is virtually no way around the shuddering...and it truely is a violent "shudder" that bangs the entire car and sounds like the dash and roof rack are going to fall right off.

I've tried just about everything to smooth out the starts when it's being cranky (more gas, less gas, slipping the clutch, cussing at it, loving it) and when it's shuddering, NOTHING seems to calm it down. When the car is behaving normally, it shifts beautifully and seems to have an excellent drivetrain...but when the clutch does not want to play, there's no way around it that I have found. When I feel it starting to shudder on takeoff, I've started to slip the clutch through about 3K rpms before shifting into 2nd...it seems to help a bit.

I've tried to short shift it into second (at like 2K rpms) but then the clutch shudders as I go into second so I usually just keep my foot on the clutch through first gear. After 33000 miles of frustration, I think I've tried just about everything, to no avail.

Sometime when I have an extra $600 burning a hole in my pocket (read: not anytime soon) I'll put a new clutch from Cobb Tuning in and see if it solves this mess. I sure as hell won't be spending my own $$ on a Subaru clutch...I don't feel like playing Russian Roulette with another one of their parts.


#67 Guest_meep424_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 10:19 AM

"Firing in pairs"

Yes, but No.

The plugs do fire in pairs, but one is always finishing it's exh stroke, so there is no combustion there. Just as an I-4, there is a fire every 1/2 revolution.


#68 Guest_nimeek_*

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Posted 24 July 2002 - 11:33 AM


reading your latest post, I'd be inclined to agree with you then, it probably has something to do with parts rather than driving style. I was watching my tacho on my way to school today, scrutinizing every shift. I normally shift between 2 - 2.5K, and there's no abnormal shudder. It's true that there's a lot of low end power in the 2.5 engine; I never let the clutch go completely when I'm backing out of the garage because I'm afraid I'll hit the wall behind me!

And thinking about it now, the shudder for me was worst with the old clutch, which eventually had to be replaced because it was just worn out. Best of luck with SOA, I'll be cheering for you.

#69 Guest_AircraftMech_*

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Posted 30 July 2002 - 07:29 PM

You guys need to go to:


Best clutches that I ever used, abused, or just flogged the livin' snot out of. :rollin: If my left leg wasn't wasted and I could still drive a stick, I wouldn't drive with anything else. A little pricey, but I found them to be worth every dollar. :smokin:

#70 Guest_TinyClark_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 12:30 AM

If it shudders that bad, are you sure all your motor mounts are OK? Just a thought...

#71 Guest_renobk_*

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Posted 31 July 2002 - 09:44 AM

I'm not ruling anything out at this point, but if the mounts were bad I think the problem would be more frequent and more predictable than it is. Most of the time, the car drives great...but for the life of the car (it now has 33K miles) it has had bad days when the clutch just does not want to play ball with me.

I am quite sure it has nothing to do with my driving style (I know, I know...EVERYBODY'S a good driver!) because the problem is so intermittant. When it starts shuddering, I've pulled over and tried just about every possible launching technique (little gas, lotsa gas, slow clutch, fast clutch...) and nothing gets me around the horrible shudder. 20 minutes later, it can be shifting like a dream.

An aftermarket clutch is in my future, I just don't know when I'll have the "extra" $600 laying around.

#72 Guest_bannergraphics_*

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Posted 08 August 2002 - 02:57 PM

What could SOA be thinking? They spend millions trying to develop good will then let this awful engineering decision give their vehicles such a bad name.

My '01 OBS 5sp just died in the middle of a busy, dangerous intersection during a particularily bad clutch shudder event. Just about got killed.

My dealer replaced this clutch once. It was OK for about 3K miles then it returned worse than ever.

Dealer told me that SOA said to them that replacing the clutch may have made the clutch problem worse! At any rate they said that was all they could do for me.

It was originally mostly related to cooler weather but now it's doing it all summer long.

I think it's a big safety issue and I sure wish SOA would act accordingly. It's otherwise a great car, but it's tough to remember that when you're hanging on to a bucking bronco


#73 Guest_zwihund_*

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Posted 08 August 2002 - 10:03 PM

Banner I am with you totally, but just further down the process. I have now had my clutch replaced twice by F#$@# SOA due to the clutch shudder. The first time was at about 9,000 and then as all of us know it came back at about 17,000 and now they replaced it again. You must Call SOA directly and tell them you are not satisfied with their response. Tell them it is a safety issue and that you are unsatisfied with the clutch performance. They will send out a rep to your dealer he will confirm it and they will replace it. Now I am being told that it is the "clutch cover" that is faulty. Does this sound correct to anybody that knows cars? SOA knows there is a problem. I will have the clutch replaced again if clutch shudder returns, no doubt about it. Then that will be my third time which means lemon law is in action. I may have to use this in order to get them to replace my clutch with an aftermarket clutch fully paid for by SOA. One thing they don't realize is that we have the internet to spread this around and that they can't hide forever. The techs have told me that SOA knows about it, but they do not know what to do as of yet. Keep pushing and do not let these other people tell you its your driving, which is totally BS. I swear SOA has them on their payroll.
Feel free to email me anytime and I will help you with the process of getting a new clutch.

#74 Guest_Marty070_*

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Posted 19 August 2002 - 08:33 AM

I've got a clutch shudder problem on my 01 OB as well. It's been into the dealer twice and each time they have not been able to "reproduce the problem”, which I find strange because it happens every freakin' morning when I pull out of my driveway. I'd love to get the problem fixed but based on the response from Subaru I think I'll wait until a permanent solution materializes. Replacing one faulty clutch with another isn't my idea of customer service.

Just wanted to add another virtual vote of solidarity.

#75 Guest_Legacy_*

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Posted 19 August 2002 - 11:52 AM

Just thought I'd add my experience with clutch shudder... For me it's fairly predictable, the shudder is more pronounced on cold starts, ie first start of the day.After warming up it's almost normal. After being shut off everything remains warm for several hours, and everything remains almost normal.

Visiting my folks recently I drove their Toyota truck which got a new clutch about 4 years ago and MAN what a difference. It was a new disc and plate with flywheel remachined. Can't wait to have mine redone, just have to find a money tree and start growing it :)

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