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This is a discussion on 09 wrx clutch problems! within the Transmission & AWD forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Originally Posted by Sinister Don't get a 4 puck clutch. I drag race, and have 90whp more than you do ...

  1. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinister View Post
    Don't get a 4 puck clutch.

    I drag race, and have 90whp more than you do stock... and I don't have one of those. If you're going to daily drive your car you need a full face organic disk. No pucked discs.

    this is what I got
    http://www.wrxpro.com/product/ACT-WR...t/Default.aspx

    that's good to know, thanks kevin, i bet you can recommend a good place in the Denver area to get the work done also?

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  3. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinister View Post
    Don't get a 4 puck clutch.

    I drag race, and have 90whp more than you do stock... and I don't have one of those. If you're going to daily drive your car you need a full face organic disk. No pucked discs.

    this is what I got
    ACT WRX STI Performance Street Clutch Kit
    Exactly, even on their website is states this
    **We highly recommend that you go with the least aggressive for your particular application.** Although a more aggressive clutch will be able to hold more power without slipping, it will be significantly less drivable
    They're not kidding. For those of you who haven't driven a pucked clutch.. they're NOT fun to daily drive. Great for racing, but driveability will suck butt.
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  4. #168
    Registered User Willard's Avatar
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    Just hit the magic 24k. Clutch is starting to shudder & pedal engagement is getting lower. Car is not raced, tracked or abused. Calling the dealer on Monday.
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  5. #169
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  6. #170
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willard View Post
    Just hit the magic 24k. Clutch is starting to shudder & pedal engagement is getting lower. Car is not raced, tracked or abused. Calling the dealer on Monday.
    Sorry, but I gotta ask, how long have you been driving manuals?
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  7. #171
    Registered User Willard's Avatar
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    Started driving manuals in 1990, so 21 years now. I've owned only manual vehicles since 1997.
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  8. #172
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    They dropped the tranny and found no unusual wear, so nothing was replaced. Since having the car back the clutch feels much better though. I think the reassembly may have fixed (or masked) the issue, could have been a loose bearing that was reseated. Im really enjoying the car again.
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  9. #173
    Registered User Heide264's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willard View Post
    Im really enjoying the car again.
    Good to hear =).
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  10. #174
    Registered User 2.0Rs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willard View Post
    Just hit the magic 24k. Clutch is starting to shudder & pedal engagement is getting lower. Car is not raced, tracked or abused. Calling the dealer on Monday.
    Something with you doesn't add up. Here is from a broken trans thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willard View Post
    I have to double clutch all the time or else it grinds.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2.0Rs View Post
    You have a 2009. If your trans is grinding when shifting all the time why haven't you taken it to the dealer to get fixed? That isn't acceptable. Go get it fixed!
    Quote Originally Posted by Willard View Post
    Im not really concerned with it. Its a lease. Im turning it in at the end of the term.
    So the shuddering annoyed you so you took it to the dealer to have them look at it and claimed they dropped the trans to just inspect the clutch? Sorry man we don't just drop the trans to inspect the clutch. But you have them check that issue out and say nothing about your car supposedly grinding every gear? They would have rebuilt that trans if that were the case when they test drove the vehicle to verify your problem.

  11. #175
    Registered User MagnumXL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mangostick View Post
    yeah but this is pretty widespread.. all across the wrx related forums there are guys and gals crying about fried clutches anywhere from 2.5k mi to 25k mi..

    while I agree that a lot of people are overzealous with clutch slip.. still shouldn't kill a clutch THAT quickly for THAT many people. Something doesn't add up. Here I've got just a touch under 24k mi on my 2010 and no issues at all. ... hmm..
    only way to really get a solid patten established would be to start tracking build dates.
    I'm on a trip in Canada right now with my new '11 WRX and passed my 1000 break-in awhile back (now at over 1200 miles, but given the insane gas prices in Canada, I'm still going easy and getting maybe 25mpg on average at the moment). The car has been fine and felt normal...until I got back to the hotel and I backed up into a parking space that was on a slight grade. I was being careful since it was a little tight there, but even so the whole operation took maybe 20 seconds going slow. Right as I stopped I got a whiff of some acrid smell that I'm guessing was the clutch burning. It disappeared pretty fast, but I've never smelled anything like that in 18 years of owning nothing but manuals including an '04 WRX right before this car until 80k miles (absolutely no trouble with it at all). I never even had a clutch change on any of those three cars I owned and I had two to about 130k miles (on the original clutches!).

    Now I'm not saying that a slight smell is going to mean the clutch is going to suddenly start slipping or anything, but I do find it a little odd backing into a very slight grade would even cause a smell. It's not like I was gunning it or anything, just very low power backing up disengaging the clutch here and there a bit while I maneuvered so I wouldn't fly into one of the cars if the angle was off a bit. In 18 years of manual driving, it's not like I've never had to drive in heavy traffic jams where you are constantly slipping the clutch to ease forward because I have and it never burned up a clutch or even created a smell.

    This car is still brand new so I don't know if there could be a outer coating it's still heating through or not (I've never had a new car before; the last WRX was 2 years old when I got it so I've smelled a few odd smells as coatings have been burning off other parts, especailly the first couple of weeks).

    But I have to say after reading all 12 pages of this thread, I'm feeling a little uneasy. I didn't buy this car to race, but I sure as hell didn't buy it to drive like a Chevette either. After 18 years of zero clutch issues (other than a preexisting issue with the first car the first 9 months that wasn't a worn disc), I normally feel very confident driving a manual, but I'm seeing way too many people with similar experience having their '09 series clutch fry up WAY before it ever should. My uncle told me he rode his clutch on his Honda accord all the time and still wasn't having any issues at 120k miles. Burning a clutch up in 12k miles is a little like saying you burned your brake pads up in 6 months. It just shouldn't happen unless you're abusing the living hell out of it.

    Comments by RS aside (that dude has some serious arrogance issues and working at a dealer, an incredibly biased one at that; I felt like flaming the living crap out of him every time he told almost every single person on here personally they don't know how to drive. I left NASIOC because of people like that...overbearing condescending know-it-alls that insult everyone they talk to like they're talking to 2-year olds that just crapped on the rug), there are too many drivers having too many low mile problems. Even a relatively 'bad habit' driver should expect 35-40k miles out of a clutch, IMO. I rev-match all the time and I assumed that's why my clutches have lasted well over 100k. I did some good starts on the '04 WRX (~4k rpm at times, but never 5k or 6k) and putting well over 40k on a car that already had 36k when I bought it on the original clutch, it wasn't slipping in the slightest when I traded it in at 80k for this '11.

    What it comes down to is this car isn't a freaking Cavalier RS or a base model Civic. It's a performance car that is meant to be driven as one. That doesn't mean abusing the living hell out of it, but it doesn't mean babying it either. The last thing I want is to worry about my clutch every time I get into the car. That kills the enjoyment of it and I bought it to enjoy it. I can safely say that if this clutch goes before the 3/36 is up, I will sell it and never buy a WRX ever again because to me that means there's a serious defect and Subaru isn't even acknowledging it, let alone doing something to fix it in future model years. And don't tell me that doesn't happen. That's a crock of BS. It was well known the cat in front of the turbo on the '04 could break up as it got older and destroy the turbo (doesn't happen all the time, but it did happen enough to show up on forums) and when I asked my dealer about it, they never even heard of such a thing. Of course they didn't. They don't want to cover it if it breaks. It's a wear part. That means it MUST be the user's fault if something breaks except that's a crock of BS when it comes to defects or stupid designs (and putting a cat in front of a turbo IS stupid, especially when it was only for cold starts of all things. Notice how they got rid of it in future years...swept under the rug, IMO).

    The bottom line is that no one who's been driving a stick for over 10 years (e.g. 18 here including a previous WRX for 5 years) without ever burning up a clutch should be told they need to learn how to drive. That is just asinine.

    I haven't seen a bunch of '10 or '11 clutch complaints yet, but they're also newer vehicles (I would think the '10s would have started showing by now if they had the same issue as the '09), but that smell backing up doesn't give me a good feeling at all.
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    It has occurred to me that the burned clutch problem with the WRX might be happening more to the best drivers, the most experienced drivers. Here's why--if the problem is not a bad clutch or clutch lining, it is probably the "hill assist" feature. It seems that everybody who loses a clutch reports smelling that acrid smell early on, especially backing up. Others have noted that it causes embarrassing stalls upon starting from a stop, presumably because the better, quicker drivers beat the timing on the hill assist feature, moving before the brake releases. When I let a friend of mine drive it, a long-time sports-car nut and Porsche driver, he kept killing the engine and was very embarrassed. Later, I realized he was simply too quick footed, beating the release of the brake, like me, resulting in stalling, and that this frustrating stall pattern was a sign of the clutch burning out even as it was occurring. Now I know to delay until the stupid hill assist releases and I start rolling backward. Sometimes this results in people honking at me at lights, which seems an especially stupid plight for a WRX driver.

    So, I think the best drivers, the ones with the most experience, are more often beating the release of the brake because the hill assist is a bit slower than their skills and reflexes require? I propose that as the most likely answer to this problem. Subaru, are you listening? Do you even care?

  13. #177
    Registered User MagnumXL's Avatar
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    I don't know about the hill assist being the cause. I didn't even realize the car HAD hill assist until I read about it, so you're right that I'm used to not moving back even without a hill feature (very fast with my foot even on steep hills where I might drift a half inch back at most). Since then I've tested it and yes, it's like two seconds if you it there with the clutch in and the brake off. But it ALSO releases as soon as you start to let the clutch out. Otherwise, you'd KNOW IT because it would be like trying to accelerate with the parking brake on and I never noticed anything going forward (waiting 2 seconds defeats the mechanism entirely and so it's rendered useless/pointless). It also doesn't work after the first clutch release, so feathering it backwards wouldn't engage it after the first release. I also think it doesn't work on flat surfaces (reading a description on how hill holders works talks about a level sensor so it knows you're on an incline, but that was an abstract description of the original one; Subaru's computer controlled one may be different.)

    The more I read about clutch smells, the more unsure I am that was what I was smelling. I've smelled burning brakes before and this was a pretty "new" smell to my nose. I've driven stick for 18 years now and I've never smelled that before this car (I never had a new one until now, though either). It's hard to describe, but to my mind it was closer to sulfur (but not sulfur) than a fishy-like burning paper or metallic rubber smell. It was very "chemically" smelling, almost like a coating, maybe cosmoline, maybe not (that was bad the first couple of weeks but has settled down and I don't quite remember exactly its smell either since it was only really terrible the first couple of days, but it did that even if I was just idling as the engine got hot). This smell came as a sudden spurt through the vents (the windows were up) and only on the last clutch feather as I moved into the parking space. I think the clutch is organic now (as opposed to asbestos?) so maybe it would smell different from my past cars. But things like brakes take awhile to heat up. It's hard to imagine a clutch suddenly going THAT hot to smell THAT bad all the sudden backing up into a parking space at maybe a 5 degree incline at 2k rpm max for all of 10 seconds on/off total as I adjust the steering angle (this WRX's steering seems more sensitive than my '04 and I'm still adjusting for certain things like backing up. Even on the freeway, it feels like if I barely move the wheel I'm moving over into the next lane; the '04 was tight at 80mph, this one is worse.)

    I also noticed in this thread (and in an Evo thread about a smell too) that the people that seemed to have their clutch burn up early often reported the clutch feeling "tight" or "hard to push in" (some liked that too) but often when they had the clutch replaced (or testing another vehicle at the dealer lot), they reported a very loose feeling clutch. If those are the same parts, I'm thinking something is set or adjusted wrong. I'm not an expert on clutches, though, but you'd expect the same clutch to feel similar on the same car model. I know my '04 WRX (which had zero clutch problems) felt at least 2x tighter than this '11, which feels more like my old ProbeGT (very easy to push in). I'm just wondering if perhaps some of the ones that felt real tight and burned up fast might have been engaged slightly with the clutch fully pushed in or slipping with it fully out (i.e. and thus like brake calipers that are locking up, burning up the material the entire time you're driving (or idling here). A clutch lining should not burn up from a few quick launches. My last brake pads were still at 75% almost 3 years later and they get a HELL of a lot more friction a lot more often than a clutch (which only wears at take-off really when you properly rev-match). Even slipping from 1st to 2nd (because you're sick of waiting for the engine to fall down to the giant space between gears on a regular WRX) should only wear a little bit (like hitting the brakes to slow down at a stop sign). I did all those things and more on my '04 WRX (including many 4k launches, which I haven't done once on this '11) and 80k later it was still fine so if this thing burns up, there's a defect type problem somewhere. I'll see how it goes today.

    One more observation is that many reported their clutches were working fine one day and then suddenly it was 100% gone. That's not normal sounding either. A clutch normally starts to slip a little bit and then gets progressively worse as times goes on. No slip one day and then suddenly it's gone with no power engaging at all at a traffic light doesn't sound right even if the driver is hard on their clutch. That's more like something breaking in the clutch mechanism. I'd want to see the used parts (saw too many saying the dealer was making excuses there and wouldn't give them the part or whatever).
    Last edited by MagnumXL; 06-05-2011 at 06:33 AM.
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    Magnum, you're very right about one absolute thing--that the clutch is not burning out in any normal way, being a precipitous loss. I've been driving MT's for 50 years (GADS!) and I've never lost a clutch, ever! Got 235K on the last one, an Accord that was driven a good bit harder than my WRX since my teenage son raced it on dirt roads, etc. Whatever it is, SOA needs to address it and help us or lose our loyalty forever. This is my third Subie and my husband owns a Forrester XT. The Forrester has more "solid" steering than my WRX and I wish mine were as nice--just a bit squirrely at speed, even with great tires. They say they can't tighten the steering up any. What CAN they do?

  15. #179
    Registered User MagnumXL's Avatar
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    My steering is anything but squirrely. It's a bit too tight, IMO. I can't take my attention away from the road more than a second or I'm heading towards the next lane. I'm starting to think Subaru has some real consistency problems on some of their parts. I've seen far too many complaints about having trouble getting into 1st gear or reverse, etc. (slides in like butter here on both and into 1st while moving no problem) and now steering discrepancies and some clutches being tight and some loose and now burning up for no easily discernible reason. if this car was made after the earthquake, at least I'd see a reason for it, but I thought Subaru was one of the more reliable car companies out there. I guess that doesn't include annoyances like loose/tight steering, clutches and transmission issues (but should include defective clutch mechanisms that burn up on their own). I had almost zero problems with my '04 WRX. It didn't even have rattles. I somehow thought it was representative of all Subarus. Maybe I was wrong?
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  16. #180
    The Fruit mangostick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barefootdesigns View Post
    It has occurred to me that the burned clutch problem with the WRX might be happening more to the best drivers, the most experienced drivers. Here's why--if the problem is not a bad clutch or clutch lining, it is probably the "hill assist" feature. It seems that everybody who loses a clutch reports smelling that acrid smell early on, especially backing up. Others have noted that it causes embarrassing stalls upon starting from a stop, presumably because the better, quicker drivers beat the timing on the hill assist feature, moving before the brake releases. When I let a friend of mine drive it, a long-time sports-car nut and Porsche driver, he kept killing the engine and was very embarrassed. Later, I realized he was simply too quick footed, beating the release of the brake, like me, resulting in stalling, and that this frustrating stall pattern was a sign of the clutch burning out even as it was occurring. Now I know to delay until the stupid hill assist releases and I start rolling backward. Sometimes this results in people honking at me at lights, which seems an especially stupid plight for a WRX driver.

    So, I think the best drivers, the ones with the most experience, are more often beating the release of the brake because the hill assist is a bit slower than their skills and reflexes require? I propose that as the most likely answer to this problem. Subaru, are you listening? Do you even care?
    As much as I hate that hill assist feature and wish I could disable it.. I've been driving off road and on road performance manuals for a long time now and just recently clicked over 52K mi on my 2010... still no clutch issues. I dont know that the hill assist is a contributing factor in the 09 clutch failures, but it is greatly annoying and would be nice if it could be disabled. I know mine is a little overzealous and seems to engage on even the smallest of grades (like my driveway for instance which is only maybe 30ft long and has a foot or so of elevation change from end to end) I've stalled the car coming out of parking spaces with slight inclines in parking lots as well. I'm pretty quick with the footwork and notice that very often I have to overcome the hill assist before it lets go. Even still, this happens regularly and I've not had any clutch issues. Granted, I rarely if ever leave off the line over 1500rpm. Most often right around 1k-1200rpm and off I go.

    as for the odd smell.. its due to the material used in the clutch. Organic clutches smell funny.. just how it is. I agree though that somethings fishy.. but so far there are a whole hoard of 10's out there like mine and no reported issues. Dunno.. I still think it had something to do with a production or assembly problem. Either way I dont think we should worry about our 10's and 11's..

    Anyhow I already have a spec stage1 set here waiting for when time comes. .. hey.. no paranoia I had the cash on hand and nabbed it. If it sits on the shelf for another 3 or 4 years (I'm racking up around 30k a year at current rate) thats ok with me .. if not, I have a decent clutch to replace the dead one with.
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