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Old 03-10-2018, 01:38 PM   #1
PaulR
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Default Time for a new clutch?

Here is my part, JFS, to keep the Astra Forum alive. The following are the symptoms of my sick car. Yesterday I found my XE very difficult to shift into gear, especially into reverse and the forward throws; first, third and fifth. This is with the engine running and/or driving the vehicle. When the engine is off and not running, of course, the transmission shifts into all of the different gears just fine. The clutch pedal is spongy, in other words, there not as much resistance when the pedal is depressed. This has gotten me a bit depressed. I am looking at and pricing clutch kits on for sale on the internet. This has probably been gone over before but could anyone tell me which kit would be a good quality replacement to the OEM, or which one is the actual OEM. I am looking at the Sachs brand, P/N: K7062901 and the Valeo, P/N: 834243 (this one is possibly the OEM supplier). The kits are not inexpensive. The Sachs at Rock Auto is $505.78. I have not looked into what Lmf, or anyone else, wants now for a kit. Oh... yes my car just reached the 100,000 mile mark earlier this week. I am pretty easy on clutches, which includes: not smoking them, not double clutching, not speed shifting, not holding it down at stop lamps, not excessively downshifting and not using the peddle as a foot rest. Although the majority of miles I do are city driving, the car lives a pretty boring existence. I bought the car at 66,000 miles, so maybe the previous owner used it for delivering pizzas. Any thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.

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Old 03-10-2018, 10:46 PM   #2
Tom S2
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2008 Astra XR
Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Take a look at the posts on the slave. It is hydraulic, and I think what toasted my 08 XR coupe. I was on the highway doing 75-80 on an incline. when I tried to downshift everything was jammed. I tried to get it into third or fourth, but got first or second. The rest is history. Snapped crankshaft, clutch went into transmission, extended warranty to the rescue.

I had 61k on the car, and I was the only driver (my wife put maybe 200 miles on the car and it had 400 when I bought it new in 09).

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Old 03-11-2018, 07:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

First I would bleed the brake/hydraulic system (shared fluid) with new fluid, maybe even replace the slave cylinder since those are cheap and easy to do. That's a good mileage to do that anyway. If that doesn't fix it, then start shopping for clutch.

100k miles seems too soon for a clutch, but you're right it depends on that first owner's driving habits. I just hit 95k miles, but I've owned it since 15k, so I know my clutch has lived an easy life. Mine has no softness whatsoever.

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Old 03-11-2018, 04:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom S2 View Post
Take a look at the posts on the slave. It is hydraulic, and I think what toasted my 08 XR coupe. I was on the highway doing 75-80 on an incline. when I tried to downshift everything was jammed. I tried to get it into third or fourth, but got first or second. The rest is history. Snapped crankshaft, clutch went into transmission, extended warranty to the rescue.

I had 61k on the car, and I was the only driver (my wife put maybe 200 miles on the car and it had 400 when I bought it new in 09).
Where would I look to see previous posts pertaining to the clutch slave cylinder? Every time I try to do a search on this forum for information on my Astra, it comes back with nothing to do with the Astra. I get stuff on SL-2's, Vues, and such. I know that I am being specific in my search but I get is all this peripheral. I just want to find what it is that I want. Period.

Thanks for a lead on diagnosing this. Your problem sounds a lot like mine in regards to having to almost jam the car into gear. The last thing I want is to snap the crankshaft.

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Old 03-11-2018, 08:29 PM   #5
David R
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

I'll add 2 cents to this conversation. Having bought an Astra with a "bad Clutch", and test driven several with worn clutches. Your symptoms don't match my experiences. Shifting was easy in all cases. The problem was loosing clutch friction if I gave it to much gas to fast. Literally had to build up forward momentum or the engine would start revving up. Taking off at a green was little old granny material.

On my own Astra the pressure plate was defective. Misaligned, 3 of the fingers were bent. Only a portion of the actual clutch was contacting, and wearing down fast.

Could be linkage alignment problems, or syncro issue.

Not terribly impressed with the transmission on these cars. My Reverse will grind badly at -10C or colder in the morning if I don't work it through 1st and then 2nd before going in to Reverse. Likewise I have to smack it over to 5th to get the Reverse trigger to release when its colder than -1C.

Had some trouble with my linkage when my motor mounts gave me trouble. That little shift of the engine would make 1st, 3rd and 4th notchy. 5th is always notchy for me.

Can't speak to the spongy clutch peddle. As others have said fluid is shared with brakes. Are your brakes spongy as well?

...
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Old 03-12-2018, 12:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
I'll add 2 cents to this conversation. Having bought an Astra with a "bad Clutch", and test driven several with worn clutches. Your symptoms don't match my experiences. Shifting was easy in all cases. The problem was loosing clutch friction if I gave it to much gas to fast. Literally had to build up forward momentum or the engine would start revving up. Taking off at a green was little old granny material.

On my own Astra the pressure plate was defective. Misaligned, 3 of the fingers were bent. Only a portion of the actual clutch was contacting, and wearing down fast.

Could be linkage alignment problems, or syncro issue.

Not terribly impressed with the transmission on these cars. My Reverse will grind badly at -10C or colder in the morning if I don't work it through 1st and then 2nd before going in to Reverse. Likewise I have to smack it over to 5th to get the Reverse trigger to release when its colder than -1C.

Had some trouble with my linkage when my motor mounts gave me trouble. That little shift of the engine would make 1st, 3rd and 4th notchy. 5th is always notchy for me.

Can't speak to the spongy clutch peddle. As others have said fluid is shared with brakes. Are your brakes spongy as well?
The feel of the brake is fine and it is right up there. When I put (more like force) the car into reverse with the engine running it will grind. I am now parking the car where I do not need to back up and placing the transmission in first before I shut the engine off.

Update: the Valeo clutch kit is a bit less than the Sachs one, at Advance Auto Stores can be had for $313.

Anyways, I will get some estimates tomorrow on the exact problem and cost to remedy it.

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Old 03-12-2018, 11:34 AM   #7
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David R View Post
I'll add 2 cents to this conversation. Having bought an Astra with a "bad Clutch", and test driven several with worn clutches. Your symptoms don't match my experiences. Shifting was easy in all cases. The problem was loosing clutch friction if I gave it to much gas to fast. Literally had to build up forward momentum or the engine would start revving up. Taking off at a green was little old granny material.

On my own Astra the pressure plate was defective. Misaligned, 3 of the fingers were bent. Only a portion of the actual clutch was contacting, and wearing down fast.

Could be linkage alignment problems, or syncro issue.

Not terribly impressed with the transmission on these cars. My Reverse will grind badly at -10C or colder in the morning if I don't work it through 1st and then 2nd before going in to Reverse. Likewise I have to smack it over to 5th to get the Reverse trigger to release when its colder than -1C.

Had some trouble with my linkage when my motor mounts gave me trouble. That little shift of the engine would make 1st, 3rd and 4th notchy. 5th is always notchy for me.

Can't speak to the spongy clutch peddle. As others have said fluid is shared with brakes. Are your brakes spongy as well?
I got an estimate today at an independent repair shop to the tune of $1600 dollars. I am replacing the whole shebang with GM supplied parts; new disc, new pressure plate, new slave cylinder and a new flywheel. Apparently one or more of the pressure plate "fingers" are bent. It now is very noticeable when I accelerate, the tachometer moves a lot faster in relation to the speedometer. I have some major slip. I guess the bill could have been worse. But wow... after only a lousy 100,000 miles.

...
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Old 03-12-2018, 12:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulR View Post
I got an estimate today at an independent repair shop to the tune of $1600 dollars. I am replacing the whole shebang with GM supplied parts; new disc, new pressure plate, new slave cylinder and a new flywheel. Apparently one or more of the pressure plate "fingers" are bent. It now is very noticeable when I accelerate, the tachometer moves a lot faster in relation to the speedometer. I have some major slip. I guess the bill could have been worse. But wow... after only a lousy 100,000 miles.
That is a lot of money!

I see the Astra clutch work is difficult and expensive regardless. It seems you can get non-GM parts from Europe rather cheaply but the labour is very difficult and time consuming. I have changed clutches and engines in another FWD car and they are difficult jobs.

For reference, I had my auto transmission replaced with a used unit + 2 year warranty for about $2,000.

Although the shop did not do a good job flushing the coolant (and/or the oil was stuck to the old hoses), which was the cause of the problem. The shop offered to flush the coolant after the fact but I was out of state and wanted to also replace the coolant hoses (which get compromised by transmission oil). So total bill was closer to $2300 + new GM hoses and new overflow tank of say $300.

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Old 03-12-2018, 10:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

112k checking in clutch is def worn but still usable. When would be a good time to replace? When it is no longer usable to the point where its just grinding? Or before then?

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Old 03-13-2018, 07:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Depends if you have a backup vehicle or not. If you rely only on your Saturn, it's best to replace the clutch as a preventive measure. If you let it die on its own, it can leave you stranded on the road and you'll need a tow, ruining your day and limiting your options to shop around for service.

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Old 03-13-2018, 08:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maschinenbauer View Post
Depends if you have a backup vehicle or not. If you rely only on your Saturn, it's best to replace the clutch as a preventive measure. If you let it die on its own, it can leave you stranded on the road and you'll need a tow, ruining your day and limiting your options to shop around for service.
I work at a dealership (with a free rollback) and my Dad is a mechanic, not trying to brag but I didnt know if there were any issues like damaging the fly wheel, or tranny.

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Old 03-16-2018, 01:04 PM   #12
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AstraFasta View Post
That is a lot of money!

I see the Astra clutch work is difficult and expensive regardless. It seems you can get non-GM parts from Europe rather cheaply but the labour is very difficult and time consuming. I have changed clutches and engines in another FWD car and they are difficult jobs.

For reference, I had my auto transmission replaced with a used unit + 2 year warranty for about $2,000.

Although the shop did not do a good job flushing the coolant (and/or the oil was stuck to the old hoses), which was the cause of the problem. The shop offered to flush the coolant after the fact but I was out of state and wanted to also replace the coolant hoses (which get compromised by transmission oil). So total bill was closer to $2300 + new GM hoses and new overflow tank of say $300.
No, it cost me more than that! Almost $1700.

Long story short: I got my car back today and the repair shop explained to me that they had to lower the engine cradle, disconnect the exhaust, remove both axle half shafts and drain and then refill most of the fluid out of the 5 speed transmission to do the clutch replacement. All things they thought were not going to be needed.

Well, the bolts were rust seized on the engine cradle mounts and had to be torched off. They welded nuts on the back and put in new bolts. Cool! The exhaust pipe nuts to the catalytic converter were also rusted tight. They drilled them out and and put in zinc plated, and not stainless, nuts and bolts. Because that was all they had. Nice touch!

During the installation they had trouble lining up, or mating the transmission to the engine. The shop then called the now long defunct local Saturn dealer. They were told there was no such tool made for that task. So the shop mechanic fabricated a tool to help with the alignment and just to finally to finish their nightmare.

All told, the shop had about 14 hours into a job that they figured would take nine. They only charged me another hundred dollars more than on the initial estimate. I guess I got away cheap on that one. But we both took a hit on this job; them with not getting paid for the extra time, and me with the interesting way that they cobbled my car back together.

I would have never thought that a clutch replacement would have been such a hassle. Funny thing is that they are a used car and auto repair shop that has a good reputation. The people there are not greasy dirtballs. They deal in higher end imports: Mercedes, Volvo's, Lexus's, Audi's; "down to" Honda's and Nissan's. I will probably never go back there and they will probably never want to see my POS Astra ever again.

Oh... yeah I have got to reset my information in the on board computer. They never saved it when they disconnected my battery.

...
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Old 03-16-2018, 01:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Thanks for the info. Sorry about the transmission challenge.

There are a few posts detailing the clutch change for these cars and it seems to be a very tough job. I have read about a clutch alignment tool on the Euro posts.

I spent a ton of money on the replacement auto transmission for my Astra. And a ton of maintenance time and money. Looks and runs just like new. Real pleasure every time I drive it. Everyone who drives it loves it.

Since the car runs perfectly, despite a market value of ~$3,500, replacing the transmission was a good decision for me. Replacing the clutch on an Astra in fair condition starts to make less sense...

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Old 03-16-2018, 07:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AstraFasta View Post
Thanks for the info. Sorry about the transmission challenge.

There are a few posts detailing the clutch change for these cars and it seems to be a very tough job. I have read about a clutch alignment tool on the Euro posts.

I spent a ton of money on the replacement auto transmission for my Astra. And a ton of maintenance time and money. Looks and runs just like new. Real pleasure every time I drive it. Everyone who drives it loves it.

Since the car runs perfectly, despite a market value of ~$3,500, replacing the transmission was a good decision for me. Replacing the clutch on an Astra in fair condition starts to make less sense...
My XE5 is not a POS in the true sense, it is just a POS in that it needs more repairs than I figure it should. It runs well, and from outwardly appearances, it looks to be only about two or three years old.

You are correct in that the value may only be around $3500. But I am now pretty much married to it because of the money now put into it. I can't hardly get rid of it now. I don't even want to think about spending another $900 to have someone else replace the timing belt.

...
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:24 PM   #15
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Greetings.... As much as the Astra is an econobox it's still a European car in my book, thus is has its quirks.. I own a Euro car repair business so I am all too familiar with those quirks. You are either a mechanic of a mechacknic.. sadly IMO the place you went to was the latter..

First off don't bother getting parts locally unless its an oil filter or spark plugs.. Order from Micks Garage in Ireland, free CDN shipping over 200$ orders. Takes about 2-4 days for parts to arrive VIA DHL. I have WorldPac at the shop for parts and they list very little for Astras, oil filter, air filter thats about it. If you get the GM delco part numbers many parts you can either get at Kenny U pull or off other GM models.

I had a broken pressure plate(Cracked fingers) on my 09 with 92000kms that had the same symptoms but it would also slip as it the half engaged. I bought the car for 700$ with a broken clutch (Previous owner was quoted 2300$ for replacement) off Facebook one night because for a hatchback they drive awesome. I ended up buying a new clutch kit from from Micks Garage 225$ CDN shipped and got a new slave cylinder from RockAuto for 50$ CDN The OE Clutch disc and PP sells for around 40 GBP each off ebay plus shipping.

Here is a the trick...

You can change the clutch on these cars in about 3-4 hours start to finish, I did mine on Tuesday night. You don't need to remove the subframe or even touch it, don't need to touch the exhaust.. Once the axles are out, mark the shifter linkage (very important) You unbolt the gearbox then creatively slide it out of the way to the drivers side. You will have around 6-8 inches of workable space, which is more than enough to change all the related parts including the slave which is 3 T40 bolts and a line. You don't need a clutch alignment tool either, as the disc is almost centered in the flywheel. For reattaching the gearbox you will need an assistant slowly turn the crank pulley while you jiggle the gearbox into place so the splines line up.

Don't give up.. Just be patient. Sure if you have an auto that needs replacement or manual gearbox then the subframe needs to come down. At that point I would just drop the engine out and down on to a table. Easier to work with.

Here is what we deal with almost daily at my shop. As for my Astra it will become the weekend trackday car.
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Old 03-18-2018, 05:55 PM   #16
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Thanks for the tip! Hopefully I never have to use it. My clutch seems to have plenty of life, but you never know. Might be good to post this info in the clutch replacement write-up.

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Old 03-20-2018, 11:54 AM   #17
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Yeah, I was going to mention, $1700 sounds OK for that job (it's still a painful bill though). I always expected it would be $2500 or more because everything I read required removing massive amounts of equipment to get it out. It was one of the reasons I sold mine at 120,000 miles. I loved the Astra, but I started looking at needing another timing belt change in 2 years, new tires, suspension parts fairly soon, the possibility of the clutch going at some point, since I do a lot of stop and go driving, etc. My new hatchback isn't as versatile for cargo, since I can't drive it with the hatch open and the slope doesn't allow the big stuff to fit as well, but I do like going 4-8 weeks between 8 gallon fill-ups and 2 years between oil changes. I do miss the manual transmission, as the new car never shifts at all .

...
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Old 03-20-2018, 07:33 PM   #18
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Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by YULAstra View Post
Greetings.... As much as the Astra is an econobox it's still a European car in my book, thus is has its quirks.. I own a Euro car repair business so I am all too familiar with those quirks. You are either a mechanic of a mechacknic.. sadly IMO the place you went to was the latter..

First off don't bother getting parts locally unless its an oil filter or spark plugs.. Order from Micks Garage in Ireland, free CDN shipping over 200$ orders. Takes about 2-4 days for parts to arrive VIA DHL. I have WorldPac at the shop for parts and they list very little for Astras, oil filter, air filter thats about it. If you get the GM delco part numbers many parts you can either get at Kenny U pull or off other GM models.

I had a broken pressure plate(Cracked fingers) on my 09 with 92000kms that had the same symptoms but it would also slip as it the half engaged. I bought the car for 700$ with a broken clutch (Previous owner was quoted 2300$ for replacement) off Facebook one night because for a hatchback they drive awesome. I ended up buying a new clutch kit from from Micks Garage 225$ CDN shipped and got a new slave cylinder from RockAuto for 50$ CDN The OE Clutch disc and PP sells for around 40 GBP each off ebay plus shipping.

Here is a the trick...

You can change the clutch on these cars in about 3-4 hours start to finish, I did mine on Tuesday night. You don't need to remove the subframe or even touch it, don't need to touch the exhaust.. Once the axles are out, mark the shifter linkage (very important) You unbolt the gearbox then creatively slide it out of the way to the drivers side. You will have around 6-8 inches of workable space, which is more than enough to change all the related parts including the slave which is 3 T40 bolts and a line. You don't need a clutch alignment tool either, as the disc is almost centered in the flywheel. For reattaching the gearbox you will need an assistant slowly turn the crank pulley while you jiggle the gearbox into place so the splines line up.

Don't give up.. Just be patient. Sure if you have an auto that needs replacement or manual gearbox then the subframe needs to come down. At that point I would just drop the engine out and down on to a table. Easier to work with.

Here is what we deal with almost daily at my shop. As for my Astra it will become the weekend trackday car.
Too bad the geniuses at my shop did not think up your method before they resorted to the fire ax. I still can't bring myself to want to look too closely under my car after this.

You use your Astra for a track car? Yes , my XR3 with 18" wheels steers sharp and handles flat in the corners, but for acceleration and sheer speed it is basically gutless. I won't be painting rally stripes on it any time soon.

...
PaulR

2008 XR3 5 speed, heated seats, leather, premium sound , 18" wheels, center armrest
2008 XE5 5 speed, heated seats, panoramic moonroof

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Old 03-20-2018, 08:44 PM   #19
YULAstra
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2009 Astra XE
Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Where are you located?

I've been working on European cars for nearly 15 years .. You develop a different thought process on how to repair them, trust me I've owned enough Euros as well. Astra's are also about as simple as a car can and a damn good parts bin one.


For the power output and gearing it's pretty decent what helps is it's pretty light. I've driven "momentum" cars all my track "life", what I love is the brakes are MASSIVE for an econobox.. 308mm up front from the factory is insane. Even with factory suspension handling is good, some body roll but not massive. I will have it out on the track end of April..

I am keeping 17s on it because there are more tire options around and the 18s are on the heavy side. 16's would be ideal but 17s you get that extra bit of footprint

Last edited by YULAstra; 03-20-2018 at 08:55 PM..

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Old 03-20-2018, 09:58 PM   #20
David R
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Posts: 477

2009 Astra XE
1997 SW2
Default Re: Time for a new clutch?

Interesting that you had bent fingers and YULAstra had broken fingers. I had bent fingers. Kind of makes me think defective product from the start, 142,000 KM on the car. The shop that did my clutch didn't cost me that much, but it was up there around $1400CDN. YULAstra where's your shop located, my go-to guy went out of business about a year ago, so I've been looking after things myself.

Oh yes, you gotta love those brakes. When every I switch between cars, going back to the Astra, almost always put my face into the windshield.

...
~I'm not an authority on anything~

2009 Astra XE 5sp 175K km
2000 Honda Civic SI 5sp 172K km, AKA EX Coupe - Gone
1997 SW2 DOHC Auto 325K km - Stored for winter, used in summer

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