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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

#76 Guest_budman_*

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Posted 21 August 2002 - 07:55 PM

I think that zwihund has hit it on the clutch shudder problem.

I wash my Subaru in my garage and let it sit in that high humidity sometimes all night long. When I take off for work in the morning, the shudder is incredible! But, just one brisk (not bonzai) launch to boil the water out of the organic, environmentally friendly, long life clutch lining and I'm good to go until the next time I get the thing wet.

As for downshifting, I have personally replaced clutches, and I have replaced brake pads, and, I can say with good authority, that if you are not matching revs when downshifting, you'd better just clutch it and use the brakes, or buy an automatic, because replacing a clutch takes a lot longer, more tools and much more cash than replacing a set of pads. Watch a roadrace or rally and you will hear the real professional race drivers blip the throttle when they downshift.

,nuff said?

#77 Guest_bannergraphics_*

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Posted 02 September 2002 - 08:59 AM

I also initially thought that the terrible clutch stutter in my '01 OBW was humidity related, but it has continued throughout the long dry summer. It's often worst when conditions are dryest.

It's also not a driving issue. I've driven manual transmissions for 30 years and this clutch-stutter issue is unique to this clutch

There should be a recall. There are conditions under which this is a serious safety issue. Once upon a time there was a link in this thread to the NTSB web site for reporting problems. I recommend using it.


#78 Guest_LemonRider_*

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Posted 03 September 2002 - 08:43 AM

Has anyone noticed a 'Jekyl and Hyde' type behavior in their clutch?

Under ideal weather conditions I can release the clutch for a relatively smooth transition. In a stark contrast, when it is cooler and a little more humid the clutch seems to grab. By that I mean when releasing the clutch pedal there is no transition.... it’s more of a nothing, nothing, nothing, GRAB!

This has left me with a choice between two evils. I can release the pedal slowly in an attempt to reduce the rough engagement and deal with the shudder, or take the quick release approach and the rough shift that accompanies it.

This, of course, only applies when the vehicle is not up to operating temperature. When it does reach this temperature, it behaves just as any other normal vehicle - not the schizophrenic beast it is.

#79 Guest_bannergraphics_*

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 01:29 PM

Yes, that Jekly and Hyde personality is a BIG problem. I think you'll find that as time goes on, it will shudder terribly for its first few shifts all the time, not just when it's cooler or humid. The problem gets worse, not better.

The clutch stutter problem is a bad one that ought to give new buyers pause. It's an important safety issue. We've been told we're stuck with it. This isn't really the response I expected from a company trying hard for US market share. Be warned. It's a real problem that Subaru does not seem to want to deal with.

#80 Guest_4wheeldrift_*

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Posted 09 September 2002 - 02:34 PM

my two cents- anyone live in Indiana near chicago? I really want to see a Subaru with the impossible clutch shudder problem that is unrelated to drving style, that can't be helped, that is totally unpredictable, that is a complete mystery etc...

Bring on the flames, but i'm one of those stubborn poeple who needs proof before i will believe something.

So if anyone is in the area, I would really like to try and drive your car to see if i can't get it to launch without the dreaded shudder and then make it shudder on purpose.

If I can't get the car to launch smooth then I promise I will post a picture of myself with a sign that reads "Know it All Loser"

However, if I do get the car to launch without shudder you all have to pay hommage to me forever and ever as the King Of All Clutches.

the owner of the "test" car will be the judge of shudder and non shudder.

any takers?

i would also be happy to let anyone (properly liscensed and insured of course) try driving my car. which exhibited shudder from nearly day one but has been very liveable since I adjusted my driving style about 4 years ago.

subaru builds a quality car. all cars have problems. subarus have less than most. an AWD manual is more difficult to launch than a 2wd vehicle.

if you are getting shudder from 2-3 or 3-4 or 4-5 or 3-2 or 4-3 etc... you are driving wrong period end of story.

now don't get all personal on me, this is a discussion and this is just my opinion.


#81 Guest_LemonRider_*

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 08:23 AM

"if you are getting shudder from 2-3 or 3-4 or 4-5 or 3-2 or 4-3 etc... you are driving wrong period end of story. "

My vehicle shudders when I shift from 3-2 (along with 1-2 and sometimes 2-3 - actually the 2-3 is more of a clunk). Please enlighten me - tell me how I am not driving properly.

I've read the article referenced earlier in this topic, I've changed my shifting technique. While this may have helped, it hasn't eliminated the problem.

Generally it seems everyone is not contesting the overall quality of the Subaru but there are a few problems that stand out.

As you've stated, all cars have problems. Flimsy cup holders, fit and finish issues and so on... A shuddering clutch is not only an annoyance but also a drivability issue.

You've managed to look past this with your vehicle, but there are those of us who are not so passive. We don't believe we should be forced to accept this problem - and we shouldn't.

I, and probably the others, purchased a Subaru because they have a reputation for quality and durability. My experience has forced me to question my decision. In the future I will not consider Subaru as a viable purchase option.

Ultimately these problems hurt Subaru. Unsatisfied consumers are much more vocal than their satisfied counterparts. Just based on my personal experience, several coworkers who were considering Subaru purchased other brands.

Regretfully, I don’t live near Chicago. I would probably enjoy discussing this with you in person.

#82 Guest_4wheeldrift_*

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 09:05 AM

I really do enjoy discussing this issue. It is really the meat and potatoes of driving, really gettting at the heart of the matter.

I respect your opinion regarding the driveability issues of the Subaru 5 spd. They do exist. It would be interesting to know if 2wd 5spd Subarus also exhibit the clutch shudder.

As far as durability goes i would add my anecdotal evidence of my car having 113K on the original clutch, in mixed driving, and still going strong.

Clutch shudder happens only when the clutch is slipping. The only time your clutch should be slipping is when starting out from a dead stop. Thus when making any other shift 1-2, 2-3, etc... there should be no clutch slippage.

It's all about timing with the clutch, the gas, and shifter. It also takes a bit of practice. The trick is to be quick pushing in the clutch all the way to the floor!, while rolling off the gas, shifter out of gear quickly, wait for rpms to drop to ideal point, shifter slides into next gear, clutch out quickly!, roll back into throttle. (mike shields does a better job of describing the process). When done properly the result is a smooth shift without any jerkiness, driveline lash or clutch slippage.

It sounds complicated but try writing down a description of how to hit a baseball or shoot a wrist shot...it is the kinda thing you learn by practice and feel.

I wouldn't say that i have overlooked the problem in my car, rather i think i have overcome the problem.

i would be happy to discuss in more detail. send me an e-mail and i will give you my MSN messenger screen name.


#83 Guest_renobk_*

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 09:38 AM

Well, the temps have dropped for fall this past week and (just as I feared) the clutch in my 01 outback has again decided that it does not want to play with me anymore. The shuddering was present this summer (but wasn't during the car's first summer in 2001) but not nearly as bad as during the car's first winter. Now, with fall approaching quickly, my morning commutes are again filled with delicate launches from stoplights and signs. SOA was planning to send a rep out to look at the car early in the spring, but they cancelled and I never rescheduled...looks like I'll call them and have them send someone out to look at the car this fall. I've now got just over 36000 miles on the car, still way too young to have these kinds of problems.

In regards to this being an issue with my driving style...well, I'm not going there again. No car, AWD or not, should exhibit this type of tempermental behavior pulling away from stop signs. Dead stops are the only time I get a problem, and it's not all the time, but there are days when the car absolutely will not cooperate and there are days that the car drives like an absolute dream.

I seriously doubt that owners of AWD Audi's and BMW's experience this in their cars...but maybe you gotta pay to play. Subaru knows AWD as well (or better) than anyone...there is no way that this shudder is a "normal" characteristic of their cars. I just wish I had the money to put a quality clutch in the car (from ACT, Centerforce, Cobb, anyone...) to try and eliminate this problem. A $600 fix should not be ruining my enjoyment of a new car, but I almost have to refuse to fix it myself on principle: I should not be replacing a clutch on a new car that has been intermittently acting up since the car was new...that's what warranties are supposed to be for.

#84 Guest_4wheeldrift_*

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 11:20 AM

Did some checking at audiworld.com. People over there are having clutch chatter too. Most of the discussions attribute it to a worn or glazed disc.

No guarantees with an aftermarket kit. Have heard mixed reviews over at i-club.


#85 Guest_LemonRider_*

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Posted 10 September 2002 - 03:44 PM

I should clarify my earlier post. When the vehicle is not up to operating temperature, and if the atmospheric conditions are right, the clutch shudders when pulling away from a stop. When shifting from 1->2 I have a choice:

1.) Try to slowly release the clutch - This produces shudder.


2.) Try the quick in, quick out method described at spdusa.com - This results in a very harsh shift.

The most frustrating part of the shudder problem is the lack of a pattern. Generally the clutch misbehaves when there is high humidity and cooler temperatures but it has happened on hot dry days.

Every morning I must watch the weather to try to determine how to drive. Subaru has a reputation for building solid and durable products – as I posted earlier that’s why I bought one. Over the 2.5 years of ownership I’ve had quite a few problems that cause me to doubt the quality of my vehicle.

Maybe there is nothing wrong with the clutch; I should accept the shudder and learn to ignore it. That’s a lot to ask – especially when I’m still paying for this relatively young (31k miles) vehicle.

Let's look at this from a different angle. I know a 77 year old man, he's driven more than a few vehicles with manual transmissions. He currently owns a Ford Escort with a manual transmission.

He's looking to replace his Escort. Logically speaking, would he purchase a Subaru knowing he'll have to alter his driving patterns (patterns he's spent over 40 years perfecting) or will he look to a different brand? Odds are he would buy a different car.

This is only one example; it doesn't matter if it's a 77 year old man, a 35 year old Kindergarten teacher, a 43 year old Nun, or a 22 year old college student. Generally people will view this as a fault in the product and look elsewhere.

As I said in an earlier post, these issues hurt Subaru. It's in their best interest to try to eliminate this problem.

#86 Guest_4wheeldrift_*

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Posted 11 September 2002 - 03:05 PM

"Try the quick in, quick out method described at spdusa.com - This results in a very harsh shift"

Your timing is off. When done right shift is seamless. Do you lurch forward in your seat (rpms too low) or does your head snap backward (rpms too high)? Keep practicing.

driving a 5 speed is not as easy as driving an automatic. driving a 5 spd AWD is not as easy as driving a 5 spd 2wd.

A manual shift car is really for car enthusiasts who want the control and immersive driving experience you get from rowing your own gears. Learning to drive different cars and drive them well is half the fun. And driving a Subaru is fun :) .

If the 77 year old guy has spent 40 years perfecting his pattern he should probably get another Escort and continue those same patterns.

All cars are different. Every transmission is a little different and requires some adjustment on the part of the driver.

The simple solution is buy an automatic. I think the number is like >90% of all passenger vehicles sold in the US are automatics.

I chose subaru because it offered a sporty car, with cargo room, AWD, and a 5 spd that you could actually get.

I got my car had some trouble driving it for about a year, read some articles, practiced alot and can now say i am very happy with the car.

Very few problems over the last 5 years. Put on alot of miles, hauled a lot of stuff, and had lots of fun in the snow. I would reccomend, and often do, that anyone buy a Subaru.


#87 Guest_LemonRider_*

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Posted 12 September 2002 - 02:26 PM

Trust me, the problem is not in my shifting habits. I've driven an array of vehicles with manual transmissions, FWD, RWD, AWD & 4WD. Yes, I've even driven other offerings from Subaru (Loyale, XT6).

By far, my Legacy is the most unforgiving vehicle - when the weather is just right. I'll give credit where it's due - the Legacy is fun to drive when the weather is temperate (warm and not humid), but when it's cold the car is a beast - until the vehicle reaches operating temperature.

Unfortunately, it doesn't snow when it's warm. It's a shame the Subaru is uncooperative when it's needed - those cold snowy mornings when the driveway hasn't been plowed yet.

I shift the same way regardless of weather, but the weather determines the result.

#88 Guest_4wheeldrift_*

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 03:21 PM

Yes you are right, the subaru is not nice to drive when the car is cold. It is difficult to shift etc...

When it's cold outside every thing happens very slowly, all of the lubricating fluids are like molasses. And the engine is runing rich and idleing at like 1800-2000 rpms. At this time you should be treating the car like a baby. The fun stuff should only take place when it's good and warmed up.

When the car gets up to temperature (about 2-5 minutes depending on how cold it is outside) it's OK? no shudder perfectly smooth shifts?

Drive like a grandma until it's warm then have fun.

#89 Guest_warlord_*

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Posted 13 September 2002 - 04:39 PM

well as some of you may know i'm looking at a 2 litre dohc turbo manual legacy, i took it for a drive the other day, i gave it a bit of a thrashing, but i couldn't get the clutch to shudder no matter what i did,
either full boost launches, or gentle smooth (full boost + clutch dump = 250 bhp 4wd fun).
ne how maybe it's just a us spec legacy thing.

#90 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 14 September 2002 - 09:33 AM

If anyone is considering a replacement clutch, they may want to look at this company. www.bullyclutch.com (Their site seems a little quirky. Try using refresh. Sometimes the "text" disappears on the first load.)

Their main claim to fame seems to be in the clutch facings. They use an Organic High Temperature Compound on the flywheel side and a Proprietary Compound with a metallic ceramic compound (Patent Pending) on the pressure plate side. The information on their web site is a little sparse. Keep in mind that the prices are full list and Canadian dollars. I read a while ago of someone who put just the clutch disk itself (I think) in his car and was really pleased with the results. There is an excellent write up on the Toronto Subaru Club. The (partial) link is www.toronto-subaru-club.com. It's a frames set up, so I don't know how to get you to the actual post. From the home page, click "Message Forums". Then go to "Technical". The topic is a sticky near the top entitled "Bully Clutch Review".

I just offer this up for whatever it is worth.


#91 Guest_zwihund_*

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Posted 26 September 2002 - 11:24 PM

I get so irritated with you Ben or wheeldrift with your comments. I know this is a discussion, but you are totally alone on this one. I wish someone lived close to you, because I would love to see that sign with your picture that you are wrong. Why would SOA replace two of my clutches if it was my driving? They also have reported defects in their clutches, but just not officially. I hope your comments don't stop ANYONE from complaining to SOA and getting this resolved. I really hope all of you with this problem will not give up until SOA replaces your clutch, they will if you keep pushing. Its a matter of time until we get them to admit to it. Has anyone considered letting the media know about this issue? What about those shows like 7 on your side or eyewitness news? What do you people think? Keep fighting and don't listen to ben, please.

#92 Guest_4wheeldrift_*

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Posted 27 September 2002 - 11:55 AM

sounds like you have a real lemon, maybe you can sell it and start over. Or maybe subaru will take it back. Maybe you could hire a lawyer....

best of luck.


#93 Guest_paddleboy_*

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Posted 30 September 2002 - 08:03 AM

I have nothing new to add to the discussion - just one more verification that this is a real problem. I was driving my wife's 2001 Subaru Legacy (with 12,500 miles on it) this past weekend and it is now exhibiting the same clutch shudder problem that has been described above. For those that doubt that it really exists, it is clearly a "new" condition on the car and we both have experienced it (and are both long experienced with driving manual cars). So far, it is not very bad and only seems to occur on the first few shifts on colder, foggy (ie. high humidity) days. When I mentioned it to my wife, she said, "yeah, it has been doing that for a little while." It is disappointing, I was really hoping it was something that we would miss out on. We love the car but I know my wife is going to be very upset when it gets worse. Hopefully, Subaru of America will own up before we hit 30k....


#94 Guest_bannergraphics_*

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Posted 02 October 2002 - 07:30 AM

Sorry to see some discussion still saying this is a problem of driving style.

Those of us who have driven manuals for over 30 years take exception. This is an obvious failure mode for those of us with the problem. That why Subaru continues to replace clutches when people bellyache enough.

They replaced one for me. Now the second one is just as bad. I like my dealer but getting no backup from Subaru all they can do is shrug their shoulders. I've filed a complaint with the NHTSB.

Come on Subaru. Own up to this. Do it right. These are good cars except for this problem. Get the problem off the table. Issue a recall. You're in this for the long haul. Do the right thing and fix these for us.

#95 Guest_zwihund_*

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Posted 02 October 2002 - 08:31 AM

Keep filing complaints people!!! That is exactly what everyone with this problem needs to do. I have already filed mine, but we need numbers, so please take the time to do it if you are experiencing this problem.

#96 Guest_2Outbacks_*

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 10:30 AM

I had the same problem with my '98, with the clutch cover replaced at about 10,000 miles. The problem was back by about 20K miles, so another complaint to SOA resulted in a $750 check if I bought another Subaru (but no fix). The problem still exists at 44K. I don't think it's driver-related, as I've driven all kinds of manual transmission vehicles.

I've had another problem with the clutch too - the pedal sticking to the floor when the car is hot. They replaced the master cylinder once, then the problem came back after a year, so SOA recommended a "gravity bleed" of the system, which has worked so far.

#97 Guest_renobk_*

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Posted 09 October 2002 - 11:14 AM

That's interesting that you mention the clutch sticking to the floor -- I've never heard anyone else complain about that! I think it's totally unrelated to the nasty shuddering that has plagued my 2001 Outback since it was new, but on a few instances (each time in hot weather) my clutch pedal has sunk to the floor, requiring me to reach down (in traffic) to pull it back up to the top of its travel. It did it last summer (2001) one time and I thought I was losing my mind...there was absolutely no pressure on the clutch pedal. I could literally push it down with my pinkie finger. The problem never came back until two weeks ago when I was caught in a huge traffic jam on the highway...I had been in and out of 1st gear hundreds of times over the course of an hour as we idled along and the clutch decided it was going to hang out on the carpet for a while. It's a very, very weird sensation to have the clutch disappear underfoot. Interesting to hear there are others! I'd ask my service department about it, but they've been totally apathetic about the shuddering and I doubt they'd care about the pedal staying on the floor.

#98 Guest_st2eelpot_*

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Posted 16 October 2002 - 02:10 PM

Well, Road and Track magazine kept a subie WRX for 12 months and did a brief conclusion write-up about it for the November issue. In it they comment on things like the best gas mileage experienced, worst gas mileage, the fact that they only put 14 000 miles on it... and they also mention with very little emphasis that the clutch started shuddering at the end of their test period and that they would be looking in to that. It seems that perhaps they assumed it was something non-typical and unique to that car it seems, as if something was out of adjustment.

I am going to forward this thread's address to Road and Track to let them know that this is not a completely unique or unusual behavior of relatively new Subaru clutches. Granted, it doesn't seem to happen to everyone, but it seems to happen to enough.

I thought you guys might be interested to know that.


#99 Guest_Forester Dude_*

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Posted 18 October 2002 - 04:55 AM

I love my 02 Forester, but have had no luck so far in getting my shuddering clutch repaired in AU. It is the only characteristic of the car that prevents me from having an enjoyable experience.

This was going to be what I hoped was the first of several Subaru's. I was planning on getting an 04 Forester in due course. However, there is no way I'll ever buy another Subaru if they can't (or won't) get such a basic thing right. My dad has problems with his 01 WRX, and is also having trouble getting satisfaction from Subaru of AU.

I think I'll go back to Toyota's.......I know it won't be as much fun, but at least I won't be p!ssed off every time I engage the clutch.

Technique has nothing to do with it!

#100 Guest_LemonRider_*

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Posted 18 October 2002 - 10:49 PM

Maybe the testers at Road & Track didn't read Mike Shield's article at spdusa.com.

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