Volvo Clutch repair botched? Any advice? - Lounge Lizard
My car is a 1992 Volvo 240 SE manual 5-gear estate.

The clutch had been slipping for a few weeks so I decided to get it repaired before it failed completely. A week or two ago, I took the car into a garage and asked for the clutch to be replaced.

This was done, and I collected the car after a couple of days.

I paid 230 pounds cash: is this a reasonable / high / low amount?

I drove the car away and at first everything seemed fine: the clutch operation seemed perfect.

However, I quickly became aware that the gear stick position had changed; when I selected gears 1, 3 or 5 the gear stick was against the dashboard fascia (ie too far forward). This did not seem to make much difference to the car?s operation; it just seemed to foul access to the ashtray, etc.

I continued to drive the car normally, but went back to the garage a week later and explained the problem. The garage asked me to bring the car back on the following Monday; but made no suggestion that I should not drive the car and I mentioned that I was continuing to drive it.

However, the next day I was midway on an 80-mile journey in the car, I suddenly heard a sort ?whirring, clunky? noise from the gearbox. Suddenly, the only gear I was left with was 4th gear (and neutral). The other gear positions could be engaged by the gear stick but there was no drive to the wheels.

I continued on my journey and got back OK (using 4th gear only!) More inconveniently, there is no reverse either!

I drove the car into the garage on Monday morning and the staff spent some time examining the car from underneath. I was present at the examination, the technicians who had fitted the clutch mentioned that they had had problems connecting the new clutch up, they?d had problems ?poking the rod through? (or something like that). There was a suggestion that there was some kind of internal connection fork that hadn?t been engaged properly.

The garage have agreed to strip down the gear box free of charge and repair it. However, they have not admitted liability and have refused to loan me a courtesy car for the duration of the repair, which may take several days.

I am happy for them to repair the car; but I have tried to insist on a courtesy car that I need for business & other reasons.

Would anyone like to comment of this case? I am particularly interested in a technical explanation of what might have broken; also do I have a right to require a courtesy car?

I am on the point of initiating small claims legal action; but I want to check facts first.

Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Altea Ego
Firstly Dont (and its sounds like you are not) get all shirty with then and throwing threats around. At this moment they seem to be acting responsibly and are prepared to resolve the situation. You really dont want this positive attitude to disolve.

My thought is that by offering to repair the gearbox, they have by default accepted a level of responsibility and therefore liability. I think tho thats as far as it goes and you dont actually have a legal right to demand a loan car or any compensation if they resolve the problem

If they dont resolve it of course it a whole new ball game.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Armitage Shanks {p}
Apart from the bad overall result I would have thought that £230 was very cheap for a parts and labour price on a clutch! I don't think you have any entitlement to a courtesy car, unless the garage has one or two to loan to customers; they aren't required to provide them SFAIK. My neighbour has his lease car in for repair (A diesel Renault with engine problems - ring a bell?) and has had a courtesy car for 3 weeks, and counting! Small claims court is easy and even threat of it should produce a resuly - they don't seem to have a leg to stand on and I should think they know it!
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - bell boy
garage sounds like its bending over backwards to accomodate you....
see what the verdict is before you start throwing small claims court about..
its a 14 year old car by the way and breakdowns are going to be enevitable ,surely you have a plan b for such occasions?
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Peter D
Strange,,, The only fork involved with the clutch change on this model is the Clutch acuator and nothing inside the gear box. It is possible when re-iserting the gear stick into the gear change unit that you miss the ball joint and can get the bos confused, thus the travel problem, but that is only there fault. I paid £220 for A Volve main dealer to change my 1993 240SE cluch with genuine parts and Volvo labour. I think they have bent a selector fork and hopefully they will repair it ar there cost. Good Luck. Regards Peter
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Lounge Lizard
Thank you for the interesting replies.

Peter (or anyone), do you think that a ball joint misplacement could cause the loss of most of the gears? I ask because ball joint problems were mentioned as well.

The garage have said they intend to remove and strip down the gear box. However, it's good news all round if this isn't necessary. Perhaps I could put a suggestion in their direction?
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - pmh
I cannot recall the exact set up on the 240, but would guess from the description that the gear lever was removed before dropping the gearbox. When the gearlever was reininserted a plastic bushing that locates the lever correctly was either broken or displaced hence allowing partial correct operation, and with continued use the rest of the bushing then disintegrated, resulting in loss of most gears. It could be that the bushing was already (age) damaged and disturbing it caused the failure. It seems that the garage are doing the correct things by you.

It may be that stripping the gearbox only refers to the the housing containing the actuator parts to remove broken bits which may have jammed the mechanism.

Worse case scenario is if the gear selector forks have become damaged because you effectively force selected gears at the same time.


pmh (was peter)

Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - glowplug
A similar thing happened to my brothers Nissan Cargo van, he took it to a clutch 'specialist' (butcher?) for a 3 piece clutch fitting. When it came back it started slipping within a day so he took it back, he insisted that it was fixed within the day because he's a tradesman and can't work without his equipment. The 'specialist' took the van elsewhere to be fixed but wouldn't say where or let my brother go with them. Anyhow the van came back in a useable condition but not as it was somehow. Within 3 months a strange squealing had started that we couldn't pin down and then about 4 months after that the van dropped a couple of pints of oil on the road, a quick check proved it wasn't engine oil. So off came the 'box which revealed the end plate had cracked. So a new clutch and secondhand gearbox was bought and we fitted it ourselves. The interesting thing was the difference between the friction plate that came off and the one we put on. The one that came off was a weedy thing that looked like it should have been on a car (sunny, bluebird) the one that replaced it was much beefier, double sprung etc.

It's things like this that encourage me to do my own repairs where possible, oh and also the fact that I own Citroen.

Xantia HDi.

Buy a Citroen and get to know the local GSF staff better...
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - George Porge
If the gearbox is the same as the 740 the before you drop the gearbox down you have to disconnect the gearlever carrier / extension at the rear of the gearbox, this does have a ball joint attached. Keep calm and await the outcome ;-)
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - robcars
Repairing the car at their expense is not the same as admitting liability.

Let them repair it, or at least investigate and find actual fault before even considering any legal action.

Proving it was their fault could be expensive and having a car returned to you in pieces because you go down the legal route won't help you. They may adopt the attitude of ok, we've found the problem and we think its an age/wear related one that is not our fault. if you want it sorting or putting back together then you pay for it, and we will charge storgae until you remove the car if you start mentioning legal threats to them! Take us to court if you want etc.

If they are a regular garage of yours they are probably trying to sort it to keep you as a customer. With the amount they charged you they are certainly not making any profit out of the job.
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Lounge Lizard
Thank you for the comments on this thread.

I have just dropped the Volvo off at the garage. I have cheerfully accepted their offer of a free investigation and (hopefully) free repair.

The garage has issued me with a Courtesy Push-Bike which I used to cycle to the train station, got the train back home, cycled back to my house from the station.

I await the diagnosis but, influenced by this thread, I've decided I'm getting too stressed about a car that's only worth a few hundred quid and is becoming a money-pit and a liability. I've done some research on e-bay and have found a number of cars (apparently) with fewer problems than my car and for less money than I've spent on my car in the last couple of months.
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Cliff Pope
The bottom of the gearlever has a pretty foolproof connection to the jointed rod that sticks out of the back of the gearbox. The bit that can go wrong is where the ball on the gearlever is held in its socket. From memory this is an allow socket, with a shaped plastic washer on top, held in place with a spring and a large circlip. The plastic washer could have been already worn or disintegrating, or else someone misplaced it, or the spring, or any additional spacing washers, on re-assembly. The effect would be the same - the lever has to move further before a gear is engaged, because of the play in the ball and socket. I don't think any damage could have been done, because the gear interlock mechanism is all inside the gearbox and won't have been touched.
I bought a colleague's 240 once that suffered exactly this problem. He had had the clutch done, and afterwards the gearlever was extremely vague and floppy.
All it needed was a new plastic washer and spacer, all accessible from inside the car and fixed in minutes.
The only other possibility that occurs to me is if the garage needlessly removed the gear change carrier itself. This bolts on the back of the gearbox. If the nuts were not tightened properly and worked loose, a small movement of the carrier has a disproportionate effect on gearlever movement.
There is a 1st/2nd guide bracket and reverse stop bolted to the gearlever carrier next to the ball joint, and this has to be adjusted correctly for the gears to align.

I am assuming that the correct clutch unit was fitted, and that it is freeing properly. There are several different versions, I think depending on flywheel design for the particular model and gearbox.
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Lounge Lizard
Thank you for the technical suggestions which I have spent some time reading.

I went to visit the garage today and was shown the (removed) damaged gear box outside the car.

It was explained to me that the 'primary motion shaft' had been stripped due to 'wear & tear'. This primary motion shaft was pointed out to me, and I observed a damaged shaft consistent with the description.

My problem is that I don't believe in coincidences; or at least I challenge coincidences.

How could it be that the primary drive shaft fails straight after the clutch replacement?

Don't forget: when I first collected the car after the clutch replacement I noticed that gears 1, 3 and 5 were difficult to engage because the gear stick was against the fascia. After a few days, I lost ALL gears except fourth. I continued to drive for a few days in 4th gear only (very cautiously & gingerly).

Please feel free to comment positively or negatively: you might well prevent a row!
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - bell boy
do you mean first motion shaft? ie the shaft the clutch sits on?
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - defender
I think if I was in this situation I would buy a box from a breaker (easy to get and should cost between £50 and £100) and ask them to fit it free of charge ,its too much of a coincidence but you will never prove it and if you offer a halfway meet they might be glad of an end to it without hassle
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Lounge Lizard
do you mean first motion shaft? ie the shaft the clutch
sits on?

Sorry, yes, I do mean that.
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Number_Cruncher
If it is the first motion shaft we are dealing with -

Tell them that this time they should check the spigot bearing and make sure the gearbox goes fully home against the back of the engine *before* they put the bell housing bolts in, rather than using the bell housing & bell housing bolts as a large bearing puller, forcing the incorrectly seated first motion shaft back into the gearbox.

Or, take your car to someone who knows what they are doing!

Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - bell boy
if the teeth are worn on this shaft then its got to be because the clutch plate has been spinning on it ,the only reason i can think of is because the wrong plate with the wrong amount of teeth was fitted.
Lets put it this way if you pulled the box off and the clutch plate wouldnt slide smoothly and progressely on this shaft a man and his monkey wouldnt put humpty together again,i think this is a red herring to get you to pay and is really masking the real fault
(only my opinion mind im NOT going to say it on oath.).........sorry
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Number_Cruncher
Ah, I was thinking about the teeth inside the 'box, but I think oldman may be closer to the truth than I was.

I was also thinking that if the first motion shaft had been forced back into the 'box the position of the synchro hubs on the mainshaft might also be forced out of line, explaining the change in gear lever position.


Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Lounge Lizard
I've just got back from garage. This time I printed out this thread and handed it to the garage manager, as well as keeping my own copy to make notes.

After I had overcome some initial hostility & aggressive posturing by the garage staff; I am happy to say that we had a friendly conversation which seemed to produce some progress.

The garage manager demonstrated to my satisfaction that the damage to the first motion shaft is NOT on the splines in the bell-housing; I inspected them and saw that they were apparently regular, even, undamaged little teeth.

However, the stripped part of the first motion shaft was the helical cut gears on the back of the input shaft on the internal side of the box, i.e. NOT the bell-housing side.

The line of argument by the garage manager was that a mis-fitted clutch would not create this condition. He also claimed that there was no damage to the selector fork(s); I didn't see any such damage (though I wouldn't necessarily be able to recognise damage).

The current situation is that the garage manager has acquired a reconditioned gear box and is fitting it for 220 pounds (parts & labour). I agreed to this provided that he gave me a verbal guarantee that the clutch and gearbox would work perfectly for one week.

I remain surprised at some of the coincidences and chains of events in this matter.
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Cliff Pope
Well, I suppose that's some sort of resolution, although not ideal from your point of view.
It's a very unusual thing to happen, and hard to see how it could be related to the clutch. Normal wear would not account for it. Perhaps it started from a tiny bit of debris catching in the teeth? If someone had chipped a tooth with a bad gearchange, or crashed it into reverse, bad luck might have set in. i don't think you'll ever know, but at least now you should have a good clutch and gearbox.
Change the oil someday - see other thread!
Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - pmh
This explanation by the garage does not appear to explain the original symptons that you experienced of incorrect lever position/feel.
I do not believe in 'coincidences' like this. I think the garage has found some apparent damage and used this to concoct a semi plausible story. It is difficult to know what you can do since you have now accepted the offer by the garage. Provided the car comes back as useable I think that you should be looking for a new garage for the future.

pmh (was peter)

Clutch repair botched? Advice, Please - Number_Cruncher
So it was the teeth inside the gearbox - then I would be inclined to disagree with the garage's view that this could not be caused by poor fitting technique - my first post above suggests a possible cause for this fault - One other obvious one is that they allowed the gearbox to hang off the first motion shaft, rather then properly supporting it with a transmission jack - thus bending the shaft, which would lead to very rapid tooth wear.

I would re-iterate that they shoud check the spigot, and make sure the 'box fits properly, rather than pulling it into place using the bell-housing bolts. If this were my car, I would be watching over this process (well, really, I would be doing the job myself, but you know what I mean!).


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