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Old 12-03-2007, 10:40 AM   #1
acemueller
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1998 SL
1992 SL2
Default My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

I have a 92 Saturn SL2, 5 speed manual. I put in a new clutch
(purchased at Advanced Auto Parts) in March of this year. I was pretty darn proud of myself until... Suddenly Thursday night...

- At a stop near home, it was difficult to get back into first gear
- As the clutch came out, there was a bad vibration
- It did go and made the last two blocks. The smell was a burning
smell, but not so much oil. It reminds me more of an electrical fire or of burning aluminum
- The transmission case fluid was at the add pint line, so we added a
pint.
- I coaxed it into first and even 2nd and reverse; it got smoother as I went.
- I looked at it on blocks - no sign of any extra fluid loss
- No sign of visible vibration
- There is vibration in the clutch pedal even in neutral
- After a few RPM runups, the vibration is largely gone, but the
clutch is slipping badly
- I can let the clutch out with the break on and it doesn't kill the engine

- One other piece of background: I slopily let the engine oil get
down to 1 QT below the add point (i.e., I put 2 quarts in). The
engine seems to be running fine now, however.


Question: What might have caused the short term bad vibration? Is it
plausible that I just got a bad clutch? What might I have done wrong
when I put the clutch in to cause it to go south in 8 months?


Thanks for any thoughts!


Thomas.

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Old 12-03-2007, 10:59 AM   #2
Gerry Proctor
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Most early clutch failures are due to contamination. Oil and grease on the friction surfaces of the disc, the pressure plate, or flywheel when you're replacing it or failing seals (like the input shaft seal) can also take out a clutch.

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Old 12-03-2007, 11:09 AM   #3
acemueller
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1992 SL2
Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Thx for the education! When I took out the first one, which was 140,000+ miles old, the surfaces seemed smooth and dry. I assume it simply wore out. If the one that failed in 8 months failed due to contamination, will it be evident - will the surfaces be oily - or will it be very, very subtle to the naked eye? Is there any possible relationship between the contamination and the vibration which seems to have worked itself out?

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Old 12-03-2007, 11:24 AM   #4
Gerry Proctor
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

It will be evident. Wet, discoloration, flaking, and such. You'd have to take it apart to find out what failed. I'd suspect that your trans was low on oil (possible input shaft seal leak). The vibration was probably the trans protesting. I'd check the input shaft bearing and the cluster shaft if you have to pull it apart (easier to replace with a junkyard piece if the input is loose).

Of course, all this is just guessing. It could be nothing more than a screwed up slave cylinder.

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Old 12-03-2007, 11:28 AM   #5
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1994 SL2
1999 SL
Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Did you examine your shift bushing or shift cables at all?

Maybe your shift bushing went out underneath the shifter in the cabin. It is a quick fix for $32 off of ebay to replace. To get to the shift bushing you have to remove the center console in the car to access the shift bushing and the shift cables.

Search for "Saturn Shift Bushing" for replacing the part: There is a Plastic and Stainless Steel replacement.

Your new clutch may be okay, but you were probably smelling the grinding of the gears due to the fact that the shift bushing fell apart (as they are really bad plastic parts that can wear out over time.)

Just offering another thought...

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 12-03-2007, 06:27 PM   #6
acemueller
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1992 SL2
Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Those are good thoughts - thanks to both of you!

As for the shifter bushing: I'd love any solution that doesn't entail taking the engine and transmission apart again!

Question: How would I explain the slipping in the clutch that began at the same time (or as a result of my running up the engine when the clutch vibration was there anyway)?

Question: As for the input shaft, when you say easier to replace with a junk yard part, I'm good with that - several junk yard parts on that car already. Which part am I thinking about - Is the "input shaft" the one coming out of the transmission and keyed to the engine? If so, is the entire transmission the junk yard part, or should I expect to be able to get a sub assembly thereof?

Thanks for the ideas!

Thomas.

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Old 12-03-2007, 06:59 PM   #7
Gerry Proctor
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

You want the whole transmission...if the input shaft or any other part of the trans is bad, but you don't know that yet. Yes, the input is the part with the splines that go into the clutch and comes out of the trans. You can tell a bad input shaft real easy. If it isn't tight moving it up and down (or side to side) the bearing at least is bad. You can replace the input (or any other part of the trans) if you are skilled enough to split the case and replace the parts.

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Old 12-03-2007, 11:02 PM   #8
acemueller
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Thanks!

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Old 12-04-2007, 11:57 AM   #9
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1999 SL
Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Quote:
Originally Posted by acemueller View Post
Those are good thoughts - thanks to both of you!

As for the shifter bushing: I'd love any solution that doesn't entail taking the engine and transmission apart again!

Question: How would I explain the slipping in the clutch that began at the same time (or as a result of my running up the engine when the clutch vibration was there anyway)?

Question: As for the input shaft, when you say easier to replace with a junk yard part, I'm good with that - several junk yard parts on that car already. Which part am I thinking about - Is the "input shaft" the one coming out of the transmission and keyed to the engine? If so, is the entire transmission the junk yard part, or should I expect to be able to get a sub assembly thereof?

Thanks for the ideas!

Thomas.
You can access the Shift bushing from inside the car underneath the shifter. Just remove your center console to get to it. It will be right underneath on a ball joint mechanism; and if it is shot, you will see the shift cables loose (as these are made out of cheap plastic and rubber on the ends attached to the metal cables that wear out after a time.)

...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC

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Old 12-05-2007, 11:34 AM   #10
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

I could be wrong but, these symptoms sound wrong for the shift bushing. The one time I had one fail, the shifter just went limp and I was stuck in second. I also don't see how it could make the clutch slip.

...
There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.

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Old 12-05-2007, 09:36 PM   #11
acemueller
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1992 SL2
Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

It was the clutch plate. It has material on both sides (no doubt asbestos years ago; who knows what now). The side against the fly wheel was totally destroyed. The fruits of buying a cheap, "made in China" clutch? I can live with that explanation (and not do it again, at least not for parts which require pulling the engine apart).

BUT, is there anything I could have done wrong in installing it 8 months ago which would have led to such a failure? The ring is about 1/8+ inches thick, and maybe 1.25 inches wide. The biggest piece remaining was maybe 3-4 inches long and much but not all of the 1.25 inches. There were a few pieces maybe an inch or two long, and the rest were various shreds and other fragments less than the size of a quarter.

Thankfully, enough remained between plate and the flywheel that the fly wheel still has a mirror finish.

All the bearings must be OK - everything in the bell housing was dry and dusty (clutch plate dust!)

Thoughts on what, other than a defective part, could have gone wrong?

Thanks!

Thomas.

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Old 12-05-2007, 10:25 PM   #12
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Get a LUK clutch kit on ebay and I'd get that flywheel resurfaced at a machine shop.

...
There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.

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Old 12-06-2007, 09:33 AM   #13
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

Quote:
Originally Posted by acemueller View Post
It was the clutch plate. It has material on both sides (no doubt asbestos years ago; who knows what now). The side against the fly wheel was totally destroyed. The fruits of buying a cheap, "made in China" clutch? I can live with that explanation (and not do it again, at least not for parts which require pulling the engine apart).

BUT, is there anything I could have done wrong in installing it 8 months ago which would have led to such a failure? The ring is about 1/8+ inches thick, and maybe 1.25 inches wide. The biggest piece remaining was maybe 3-4 inches long and much but not all of the 1.25 inches. There were a few pieces maybe an inch or two long, and the rest were various shreds and other fragments less than the size of a quarter.

Thankfully, enough remained between plate and the flywheel that the fly wheel still has a mirror finish.

All the bearings must be OK - everything in the bell housing was dry and dusty (clutch plate dust!)

Thoughts on what, other than a defective part, could have gone wrong?

Thanks!

Thomas.
Well it is very easy to put a clutch disk in backwards. if you put the flywheel side to the pressure plate the disk may come apart becaus the shock system (springs in the center) may be designed to work only in on direction.

the other mistake could be the throw out bearing (the bearing that connects the clutch fork to the pressure plate) On many cars if it is installed wrong it will work but it wont last long. basically it could come apart and effectively shred the clutch fingers leaving the clutch with little or no clamping force.

but an oil leak on the clutch assembly would render the clutch useless Early singes are shuddering or vibration as the clutch is released,loss of grip in the clutch (rpm's rise faster than the speed, Poor acceleration) You can check for oil in the bell housing by removing the inspection plate between the bell housing and the oil pan there is four or six screws holding it on. if you have a major oil leak it will be very evident as well you will see many bits of metal or balls from the clutch bearing if it failed

...
If it isn't broken.........Your not trying hard enough

2002 SL first brand new car in my family since the 1981 Pontiac Phoenix (sold)
2004 Vue AWD V6 bought used (current)

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Old 12-06-2007, 01:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

If it's been slipping a while, you might have done what another person did a while back. He didn't get the pressure plate bolted in tight enough. You might want to use a torque wrench and blue locktite.

...
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:09 PM   #15
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

"China's finest" isn't always up to world standards.
Especially the stuff that goes into the aftermarket where there's no OEM quality minions snooping around.

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Old 12-07-2007, 12:44 AM   #16
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

You got that right about some Chineese parts. Since I dropped Advanced Auto's name at the top, I have to say in fairness, I called the store where I bought it in May (I'd thought it had been March), without my receipt. He pulled up the purchase on the computer, listened to my description, and said to bring in the parts and he'd give me a new one. I did and that was it. I looked up the LUK that BarnOwl suggested. I would have ordered one had I not been given a new one. Yes, I'm still out the pain and suffering of pulling it out, but I still couldn't justify spending $150 just to get a better quality one. I'll give their's one more chance. It takes me about 13 hours to do the full job, and where I get money, my time is worth far more than that. But I'm salaried, so I can't trade those 13 hours for a bunch more money in a comfortable office. I might as well use them to save this $150. If this one does the same thing, then I'll spend the $150.

Thanks for all of your advice - even that which didn't turn out to be applicable on this one is educational. (I'm "ready" for when the shifter quits responding! To the center console I'll go!)

Thomas.

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Old 12-10-2007, 11:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

The new clutch is in. Life is good. Granting that it was a cheap part from China, it still shouldn't have died that quickly. Here's a theory about what may have happened: When the original clutch died at 140,000 miles, I let it go until it was slipping to the point of not being able to move the car. It reached that point while on the highway. Some serious heat was generated!
And I didn't have the fly wheel turned.

Could the flywheel have warped and could that warpage have led to the disintegration of the clutch plate on the flywheel side? (There wasn't noticeable vibration in the clutch in the 7 months that it was in.)

Any possiblity?

Thanks for any thoughts - purely an academic exercise at this point, but I always learn from your collected thoughts!

Thomas.

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Old 12-11-2007, 07:24 AM   #18
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

it is very hard to warp a flywheel, they are made from cast iron so they have 2 states straight and cracked.

chances are that you may have still been driving like the clutch was fried or as you did before the clutch job (a routine you got used to) and you really only have to cook a clutch once to seal its fate even if it is brand new.

...
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Old 12-11-2007, 09:29 AM   #19
Gerry Proctor
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

You would have had severe clutch chatter if the flywheel was bad. Surfacing the flywheel is more of a preventive measure than a "must do" for the job. If you screw it all together and you get chatter, then you get to pull it apart again and have the wheel done. If you don't want to see the clutch again, then you spend the $30 or so and have the wheel ground.

More than likely you were facing a manufacturing defect in the clutch lining. There are specific processes used to blend, cure, and bond the material and if not followed, can lead to the material coming apart. It may have been loose rivits. Who knows.

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Old 12-19-2007, 01:16 PM   #20
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Default Re: My clutch installation failed in 8 months...

I have a very similar problem. Just this week my clutch suddenly started to slip. Now I have to accelerate slowly onto the highway and I can't use very much throttle in 5th gear when cruising.

I replaced the clutch in March 2007 also, because it was shuddering badly while engaging, but more importantly, it was near impossible to get into gear at a stop. It got to a point where I had to shut the engine off at stop signs to get it into gear.

I pulled it apart and discovered that the disc's inner diameter was smeared with oil leaking from the transaxle's input shaft.

I got a "factory remanufactured" clutch kit. It was exactly identical to the original.

I had the flywheel machined, and I also torqued the flywheel and pressure plate to specs.

I pulled the transaxle out of my project Saturn, because I needed to get the car back on the road. This transaxle was not leaking at all.

When I got everything back together I realized the clutch hydraulics were completely toast because I forgot to disconnect the clutch pedal. I put in a brand new OEM unit.

Clutch was working absolutely fine and it shifted like a dream, up until just this last week when I noticed the engine revving up at times.

It still shifts fine, the clutch pedal feels exactly the same. The only thing I can think of is that my Mom and Sister have been moving my car around in the driveway if I have parked behind them. I really hate other people running my car. Otherwise I am quite easy on the clutch although I do drive 80% city. Apparently this clutch lasted 10k miles.

Does anything seem abnormal with this?

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