Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Engineer Andy

My Mazda3 1.6 petrol (mk1 Oct 2005 build) has recent had an issue where the biting point of the clutch is almost at the top (i.e. pedal not depressed) and its very difficult to smoothly change gear - either its a bit jerky and the revs go up a bit, then settle down again.

It accelerates ok in all gears, at least at the moment, though the accelerator pedal did feel a little spongy once last week. No burning smells or squealing from the car under acceleration, yet...

The car has done 58k miles from new and on this clutch/my ownership, a good amount of driving on dual carriageways motorways. The issue seems to have arisen when I've started to use my car for commuting again (new job), wherby the last part of my journey to the other town is quite start-stop driving with lots of gear changing.

I've never needed a new clutch on either of the cars I've owned (both owned for 8 years +), so I'm not entirely sure if it needs a new clutch and/or the clutch cable needs adjustment. It looks like it needs a new clutch from looking it up around the net - other than the correct diagnosis, I want to make sure I don't get one part/set of parts replaced when another is the real fault or more than one needs attention/replacement (especially if unnessarily replacing parts or not doing so ends up costing me lots of £££).

Unfortunately my mechanical engineering skills only relate to construction industry equipment and not car oily bits! Its why I normally buy Japanese - less things to worry about going wrong!

Many thanks for any assistance given.

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Railroad.
Very simple, if there is some free play on the pedal and the biting point is at the top then the clutch us worn and needs replacing. If there is no free play on the pedal then adjust it so that there is. The first inch or so of pedal movement should be free play.
Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Engineer Andy

I presume you mean by 'free play' (you can see my ignorance at this - I had to look it up - hopefully I've got it right) being able to push the clutch pedal down without encountering any meaningful resistance?

I'll have a go tomorrow morning, though given how high the biting point is now, its going to be freeplay then biting point, probably only depressing the pedal by an inch or two at most. Some websites indicate that many modern cars have self-adjusting clutches so that the biting points stays in the normal (?) mid-point, presumably until the clutch is almost gone.

From the sound of it and your comments, my car does need a new clutch. Just not sure if anything else needs replacing too. It would be nice to have a reasonable idea of what to expect before I phone my dealership, 'just in case' they 'believe' more needs replacing than actually is the case. Never had a problem with them in the past, just being cautious.

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - gordonbennet

Sounds about worn out to me.

Once you've had a price from the dealer, and laughed aloud down the phone, have a ring round some good indies.

Last year the family Aygo needed a new clutch, Toyota dealer quoted around £700 (Aygo/Landcruiser must be easily mistaken), the local indy we use regularly supplied/fitted a LUK kit for £280 all inc.

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Engineer Andy

Sounds about worn out to me.

Once you've had a price from the dealer, and laughed aloud down the phone, have a ring round some good indies.

Last year the family Aygo needed a new clutch, Toyota dealer quoted around £700 (Aygo/Landcruiser must be easily mistaken), the local indy we use regularly supplied/fitted a LUK kit for £280 all inc.

I don't really know of any local (either in the town where I live or where I work) independents well enough to trust their reputation - if I did go that route, would they be using Mazda parts or 'generic' ones? I've heard of conflicting reports about using generic parts, espcially if they aren't from a well known brand, or could be dodgy knock-offs from God-knows-where.

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - gordonbennet

EA, maybe if you give us an idea of your location one of us might be able to point you in the right direction, the one we use is very busy doesn't look for work and the work done has been good.

LUK and as far as i know Sachs are still the real deal when it comes to quality clutches.

Edited by gordonbennet on 18/07/2016 at 11:13

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Peter.N.
The fact that the biting point is near the top of the travel does not necessarily mean its about to fail, I bought a Peugeot 406 about 6 years ago with the bite point almost at the top and it was still going well 60,000 miles later, some clutches are like that so unless its actually slipping I wouldn't worry about it.

It depends of course how heavy you are on the clutch, once it starts slipping you can very quickly destroy it by letting it slip, if you use a little restraint and don't push it you could get get many thousands more miles from it.
Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Engineer Andy

EA, maybe if you give us an idea of your location one of us might be able to point you in the right direction, the one we use is very busy doesn't look for work and the work done has been good.

LUK and as far as i know Sachs are still the real deal when it comes to quality clutches.

I live in Royston and work in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Now a rather moot issue, as I checked both a local independent (the best as per reviews) and my normal dealership yesterday, and the prices were £560 and £590 all-in - not cheap, but only £30 cheaper at the independent, so I've decided to go with my normal dealership, especially as they can both offer a free car pick up/drop off service (from my work place), and a courtesy car at short notice (if I should suddenly have need of one for work on the day).

I would've considered the independent route had the price been £150+ cheaper. The parts (including oil) were actually a bit cheaper at the dealership than the independent (£190 as opposed to £230).

Oh well - I can't exactly complain, given the car's (thus far) high general reliability and it has done 55k miles (not the 58k I first quoted) on one clutch - its generally been a reasonable cost to run, even well out of its warranty period. Just a shame the clutch is going just when I'm starting to think about getting a new car (around the turn of next year) - I can't take the risk of it failing in the meantime.

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Cyd

Last year the family Aygo needed a new clutch, Toyota dealer quoted around £700 (Aygo/Landcruiser must be easily mistaken), the local indy we use regularly supplied/fitted a LUK kit for £280 all inc.

Hi GB, thanks fo that - we're going to need one for our C1 soon. I was wondering what to expect to pay.

And yes, LUK are the biz

Sounds like you need a new clutch EA

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - gordonbennet

Welcome Cyd, that was in Kettering, not a million miles from yourself i believe as you mention the Fosse Way regularly.

At one time i'd have fitted all my own clutches, not as strong fit or agile as i once was, lost the inclination too if i'm honest..:-)

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Cyd

Thanks GB. probably not allowed to give the name here, but what about the initials? We're in Lutterworth, so Kettering is only 20 mins away on the A14. The only other place I know is in Cov and it has mixed reviews (a place I used to rebuild my 800 'box a few years ago isn't there anymore).

Me too. Especially as I now have a seperated shoulder from my mountain biking accident a year ago (still not driving either, thanks to double vision as a result of the head trauma). Did loads of RWD clutches including my SD1 V8, but never done a FWD. I don't think I'd care to do my Saab looking at the Haynes description!!

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - gordonbennet

I don't think there's anything against recommending a decent place, if there is i'm sure Avant will delete as appropriate.

www.ketteringmotoristcentre.co.uk/

Saabs i never got involved in, i like them a lot but they had the box out of a 99 (i think) at a workshops i visited in my work, er no ta.

Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Engineer Andy
Just a quick update and a new query.

Booked my car in for a clutch change for early next week, however I've also found that another problem has arisen, namely the steering has got noticeably heavier, though still perfectly usable at the moment. I think the power steering is at least not fully working (I don't hear the pump 'whirr' when turning the steering wheel a good way at lower speeds), but am wondering:

a) what the cause might be (I would've expected the steering to be much heavier than it is - its about the same at present as it was in my non-assisted 1990s Micra) - maybe a fluid leak, rather than a pump failure? Something else?

b) what the fix might be - I checked with my dealership, and the cost of fitting a new pump is nearly £800 (ouch!). I'm hoping that if it is a leak, then it can be found (not sure how though) and repaired reasonably easily and fluid topped up/replaced, and at a far lower cost than replacing the pump.

I suppose I can count myself lucky that these are the first real 'expensive' [for me at least] wear and tear items that have needed replacing in 10 years/50k+ miles of ownership from new.

Even if these problems hadn't arisen, the car's probably worth somewhere between £2k - £2.5k, and so I might end up paying towards £1500 just to get the car in saleable condition for when I do decide to part with it (I was originally looking to buy a new car around the turn of the year/Feb/March 2017 reg change, to get the best deals, as I did last time in 2006).

The problem I have is that I would not be able to sell the car for very much in its current condition (I'd be lucky to get £1k), and even with the possible repair outlay, I might get an extra £250 over the book value of a car without these issues (i.e. a small benefit of having major new parts fitted).

Additionally, I don't really have any cars in mind that I definitely want as a replacement (the current Mazda3 doesn't quite 'do it' for me, especially as I'm thinking of getting a petrol auto, which is barely any quicker than my current 1.6p manual), with the 1.4p (150bhp) 3rd Golf and Leon SC being the best in most respect except the following areas I just won't compromise (engineering reliability, dealership experience doesn't seem so good either).

The Volvo V40 is again, not quite what I'm after (and uses the apparently unreliable Ford Powershift auto), and the other Japanese/Korean cars just up to the handling/performance/looks standards that I've (luckily) come to expect with Mazdas. I like the 3rd Golf/Leon because they are more of the size I'm looking for, and have better all-round visibility than the Mazda3 (something mine is not very good at) - just a shame about the engineering issues.

I won't consider other European makes as they appear to have too many reliability and poor dealership/manufacturer experience issues for my liking, especially as I'll be again wanting to keep the car for 10 years+. I want a bit more performance than before (say 0-60 in around 8-9 sec), still petrol (I'm only doing 10 - 15k miles p.a.) and no double clutch/CVT gearbox (rules out all VAG and Toyotas/Lexus autos). I don't want 'all the toys' that many of the so-called 'premium' makes fit (elec windows and CC A/C is more than enough for me), and would prefer a comfortable ride (no firm suspension/18in+ rims). I would get a manual if everything else was great.

I'll probably end up waiting until some new cars come along next year or afterwards, assuming my car lasts that long!
Mazda 3 - Does my car need a new clutch? - Engineer Andy

Any thoughts on my new questions a) and b)? The car's in tomorrow and I want to ensure the dealership doesn't just default to 'the pump's failed'. I checked the fluid level and it looked ok - just not much PAS available (the steering is heavier, but not terrible, yet). Maybe air in the system (small leak) or its gunged up?

I did hear this evening the engine slightly increase the revs when I turned the wheel a bit whilst stationary, but no normal 'whirr/whine' that it used to do when the PAS kicked in. Definitely more effort required than originally, just not as much as I would've expected had the PAS (pump) completely failed.

Hmmm...

 

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