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dbenzmaine

Clutch adventures and questions

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I've got an 89 GL Hatch with an EA-81 in it. It's at about 207k, and the clutch has been getting progressively worse since about 120k. Basically it's getting harder and harder to disengage. It got to the point last week when even pushing the pedal to the floor wouldn't take the car out of gear. I tightened the cable enough to make it driveable and got it back to NYC where i'm living now. Then i get a call yesterday that my friend has it down in brooklyn somewhere and the clutch cable snapped. This wasn't really unexpected as it had to be pretty seriously tight in order to work. He loosened the cable all the way and then reattached it to the pedal with some vice-grips, so it's drivable for now. Of course this isn't a long-term solution though.

 

Anyway, in my experience with other cars, a worn clutch usually goes the other way (it wears out and will no longer fully engage, leading to slipping). What does it mean when it's worn out so that it's engaged all the time?

 

I figure i probably need a new clutch, but i'm wary of doing the work myself here since i don't have a garage or a particularly full set of tools. Also, this car has a fair amount of rust on it, and the engine has never been pulled. I don't want to get myself into a bad situation doing the work on the side of the street. Do any of you know what a fair price would be for a clutch replacement in a repair shop?

 

My other option is to order a new cable, put it in, hope it lasts the 450 miles back to Maine, and try to do the repair up there where i have garage space.

 

Thanks for any comments, criticisms, or advice!

 

Dave

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well if you have a shop do it, we charge 375 (parts and labor) to do a clutch job, so I wouldnt pay much more than that

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Thanks Torxxx! It's definitely nice to have some idea of what things should cost before looking for places to do the work.

 

I've heard that pulling the engines in EA-81s is a pretty easy job. I've pulled engines from VW beetles and Karman Ghias before, and it seems like it should be pretty simple. Do you think it'd be a lot tougher though given that it's been through 17 New England winters without being pulled?

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I would go ahead and install a new clutch cable, as you eventually need to do it anyways. Pay particular attention to the cable routing (following the original routing), as it sems that if you route it a little differently it is harder to depress the clutch (more friction, sometimes dramatically so).

 

Subarus tend to be self-oiling :rolleyes: , so most of the parts that you need to break loose shouldn't be too difficult, with the probably exception of the exhaust flange bolts (assuming that you are going to remove or shift the engine to gain access). Of course, what we consider rust here on the West Coast would hardly be noticed in your area.

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I would go ahead and install a new clutch cable, as you eventually need to do it anyways. Pay particular attention to the cable routing (following the original routing), as it sems that if you route it a little differently it is harder to depress the clutch (more friction, sometimes dramatically so).

 

ditto. I'd replace the cable, get it adjusted, and go from there.

 

I believe, once a clutch is worn out, even if it is adjusted properly, it will still slip. In your case, since you say you had to put the pedal to the floor to disengage it, it sounds like it's just way out of adjustment, or your cable was really stretching.

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The cables can frey where they pass through the firewall and eventually snap. Also inside the cable is a plastic jacket around the cable, and it's filled with a dry lubricant. The plastic eventually wears through, and the cable gets very hard to operate.

 

On the other hand, I've had pressure plates wear out and be tough the disengage as well. Best thing is to try the cable as it's cheap and you obviously need one anyway. Then if it's still extremely tight just replace the whole clutch. It's not hard and the engine does not need to be pulled. Just remove the radiator and pull the engine forward enough to get the clutch out.

 

You can drive the car with no cable at all - you just the rev-match to shift, and start the engine in first gear. Warm it up in neutral and then shut it off and restart in first gear.

 

GD

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This reminds my of memories from my boyhood. When I was 8 or 9 my dad owned a foreign car repair shop, specializing in VW bugs and Porsches. My dad often went to rescue VW's with a broken clutch cable. The customer's always expected a tow but my dad would always just drive them in using that method.

 

Tracy

 

 

You can drive the car with no cable at all - you just the rev-match to shift, and start the engine in first gear. Warm it up in neutral and then shut it off and restart in first gear.

 

GD

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People are funnay - it's amazing how many people will push a car when they could easily just crank the starter in first gear.... everyone knows this trick because they have all tried to start the car in gear, and know that the starter will move the whole car - they just can't think outside the box enough to figure it out when they really need it. Same with the cable - the car isn't broken and they could save themselves a nasty tow bill by just driving it. It's not even hard - upshifts are normal, and downshifts you just have to rev the engine and then apply a little pressure to the gear you want and when the revs match it will drop in. With a fully syncro equipped trans, it's doesn't even grind.

 

GD

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People are funnay - it's amazing how many people will push a car when they could easily just crank the starter in first gear....

 

unless it's in my loyale, in which case the darned clutch switch prevents this (I should probably disable the switch so this can be done) ;)

 

but yes, it is a good thing to know about and use when needed.

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Hey everyone,

Thanks for the tips. The cable should be coming in in the next few days, and the vice-grip repair has held so far. I hadn't thought of just driving it without. Now i kinda want to give it a try just to see how it feels!

 

Anyway, i appreciate the advice, and i'll be back on here if i have trouble installing stuff!

 

Dave

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Yes, you can drive it that way, and I've done it plenty of times. Just remember you don't have a clutch to push in when you have to stop. You either have to kill the motor or take it out of gear (in which case you'll need to kill the motor to get it back into gear). The starter motor is strong enough to move the car short distances, as long as you don't overheat it by running it too long. I've used it to get my 86 out of traffic when my fuel pump failed.

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