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Old 25th December 2009, 14:53   #1
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Question Sudden Clutch Failure on Alto - Help Needed

Hello Team,
Wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Well, It has not been such a good start of the day for me. I was returning from Kothrud to my residence in Baner, Pune in my 2007 Alto Lx after a Doc's appointment for my dad. Those who know the route, I had taken the Banglore Mumbai highway and made an exit to service lane at the Chevrolet showroom. That's when I tried to slow down the car and downshift, I noticed something unusual about the clutch. It was offering some resistance and I knew at once something was wrong. I stopped the car to make a check, I was still idling and to my horror now I was not able to shift from Neutral. I knew we were stranded. I did not want to make things worse by doing something forceful with the car so called up a mechanic know in Baner. He trned up in 20 minutes with a fiat and we were able to tow the car till my residence. I did not want to give it to the mechanic and would prefer an authorised workshop t work on my car. Also, I wanted to check the team's advise on what could have gone wrong. A few more pointers:
-I and my dad drive for a decade now, we do not ride the cluch for sure. I have another Santro which is past 50k, still going smooth.
-Mechanic says, clutch is gone meaning clutch plates ae burnt. Can this happen without warning? The clutch was not slipping a bit and working perfecly fine when I left the doc.
-One important info - On my return on the highway, I must be doing around 80kmph when something hit the underbelly. it made a reasonable sound but not too loud. I saw something flying off in my rear view mirror but it appeared like a plastic bottle or something - I may be wrong. I did not bother.
- I did another 3 km before exiting the highway. Its quite possible I did not use the clutch all this while and needed it only when I slowed down in service lane. And thats when I first felt something strange about clutch.
-Now, I have the car parked at my basement parking. Wanted to make sure I don't get duped, so I am not in a hurry. I have a second car, so no emergencies.
- I would like the team mates / gurus to tell what in their opinion could have gone wrong? Could it just be normal breakdown or it has something to do with that object hit?
-What do you think has got damaged? How much dent should I expect to my pocket?

As I don't know what is wrong, I have not thought of taking any pictures. Should I check for ay damage signs in underbelly?

I am going to give the car for repairs tomorrow or else next week, depending on what advise I get here.

Guys please help.

Thanks a lot.
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Old 25th December 2009, 17:15   #2
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  1. faulty clutch cable
  2. clutch plate stuck
Please open the bonnet - locate the clutch lever on the gear box top - ask someone to see if the clutch lever operates when you depress and release the clutch pedal - if it does,the cable is OK

Please check and revert - can guide on no.2 thereafter
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Old 25th December 2009, 19:57   #3
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Thanks Vigsom for your reply. However, its already dark so I'll be able to make a check only tomorrow morning - its Saturday, so not a problem.

I'll check for the cable first thing in morning and revert back. There is one more observation I wanted to share - I was able to operate clutch and shift gears when the engine was not running. However, when I idle the engine, the gears do not engage. This somehow tells me that the clutch cable is operating.
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Old 25th December 2009, 21:19   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodie09 View Post
I stopped the car to make a check, I was still idling and to my horror now I was not able to shift from Neutral.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodie09 View Post
On my return on the highway, I must be doing around 80kmph when something hit the underbelly. it made a reasonable sound but not too loud.
Hi Rodie, please also have the gear shift linkage checked - on the Alto it's exposed & runs underneath the car.

A few years ago I ran over a piece of rock on the highway, that hit & damaged the shift linkage - the only way I could shift was by tugging on the gear lever with both hands !

Last edited by im_srini : 25th December 2009 at 21:33.
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Old 26th December 2009, 00:04   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by im_srini View Post
Hi Rodie, please also have the gear shift linkage checked - on the Alto it's exposed & runs underneath the car.

A few years ago I ran over a piece of rock on the highway, that hit & damaged the shift linkage - the only way I could shift was by tugging on the gear lever with both hands !
Thanks im_srini for the tip. I'll surely get this one checked as well. I am no expert with clutch issues but somehow my heart fails to accept that the clutch just wore out without a warning...no slipping nothing.

Am not ready to believe my mechanic blindly. I think Team Bhp is the place where I expect my doubts to be reolved in the best way.
Thanks.
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Old 26th December 2009, 00:21   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
  1. faulty clutch cable
  2. clutch plate stuck
Please open the bonnet - locate the clutch lever on the gear box top - ask someone to see if the clutch lever operates when you depress and release the clutch pedal - if it does,the cable is OK

Please check and revert - can guide on no.2 thereafter
clutch plate will not stick. the springs will not let it.

in alto the lever is at the bottom side.

Now the solution, how much kms is on the oddo.

First thing is to check the condition of the cable and try to do the setting with those bolts.
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Old 26th December 2009, 11:00   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodie09 View Post
There is one more observation I wanted to share - I was able to operate clutch and shift gears when the engine was not running. However, when I idle the engine, the gears do not engage. This somehow tells me that the clutch cable is operating.
Is there a grinding noise from the gears?
Check the free play of the clutch pedal.
Check by pressing the clutch pedal where you feel
the clutch plate is disengaging.
If this is too low and near the floor, then the free
play has increased a lot and so engaging the gear is
getting difficult. The pedal free play should be .6 to 1.2 inch.
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Old 26th December 2009, 13:36   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodie09 View Post
I was able to operate clutch and shift gears when the engine was not running. However, when I idle the engine, the gears do not engage. This somehow tells me that the clutch cable is operating.
Clutch cable appears OK based on what you have described.

It appears that the clutch is not disengaging - explains why you're not able to engage gears with engine running

A similar thing happened in my Versa in the 2006 floods;vehicle was driven through water to a safe location and apparently the clutch disc tasted water.Vehicle was idle for 4 days and the clutch disc got stuck to the flywheel.When we returned to the spot and checked,all was well except that you could not shift gears with engine running

What was done:
1.Chose an open area
2.With engine off,depressed clutch and shifted to second
3.Got two guys to push the car
4.when the car was in motion, started the engine,keeping clutch pedal depressed(the engine was started with second gear engaged - the car will lunge forward-hence the need to have an open area)
5.car kept moving as though I was in second gear(EVEN WITH CLUTCH DEPRESSED)
6.Keeping clutch depressed,used right foot to brake intermittently and accelerate (tricky) - it is important not to allow engine to stall
7. after a few seconds could feel the clutch working(with pedal depressed, the car seemed"neutral")
8.Kept the clutch pedal depressed for sometime and then tested;all was fine

Have done this in post 1998 floods on a Premier Padmini(that was also post floods) with success;those days,the clutch disc was API make, made of asbestos so clutch disc getting stuck to the flywheel was even easier.

If you don't want to try this,get the gear box removed

On the engine flywheel,remove clutch pressure plate(the one with a diaphragm spring) and check - the inner clutch could have got stuck to the flywheel - pry it off the flywheel using a screwdriver

Inspect clutch disc and pressure plate and put back
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Old 26th December 2009, 14:16   #9
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i think its the pressure plate that is stuck. tow your car to maruti workshop. from baner i think MY CAR is nearby. they will open the clutch and examine.
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Old 26th December 2009, 15:20   #10
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Dear Rodie09- the reasons for improper clutch release can be as follows:-
1. Clutch disc warpage, 2. Clutch plate is binding on the input shaft splines, 3.Clutch disc facing sticks to flywheel (this is due to vacum formation in pockets over rivet head,this occurs as clutch cools down after use) 4. Clutch diaphragm spring/fork bent or distorted, 5.Clutch misalignment, you may not be able to comment about any of these without opening up the transmission assembly.
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Old 27th December 2009, 08:56   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Dear Rodie09- the reasons for improper clutch release can be as follows:-
1. Clutch disc warpage, 2. Clutch plate is binding on the input shaft splines, 3.Clutch disc facing sticks to flywheel (this is due to vacum formation in pockets over rivet head,this occurs as clutch cools down after use) 4. Clutch diaphragm spring/fork bent or distorted, 5.Clutch misalignment, you may not be able to comment about any of these without opening up the transmission assembly.
I agree with you that nothing can be said with surity unless I get it checked at a MASS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SirAlec View Post
clutch plate will not stick. the springs will not let it.

in alto the lever is at the bottom side.

Now the solution, how much kms is on the oddo.

First thing is to check the condition of the cable and try to do the setting with those bolts.
Sir Alec, the car has done 16k kms but is 3yrs old and out of warranty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Clutch cable appears OK based on what you have described.

It appears that the clutch is not disengaging - explains why you're not able to engage gears with engine running

A similar thing happened in my Versa in the 2006 floods;vehicle was driven through water to a safe location and apparently the clutch disc tasted water.Vehicle was idle for 4 days and the clutch disc got stuck to the flywheel.When we returned to the spot and checked,all was well except that you could not shift gears with engine running.
Vigsom, I understand what you are suggesting, but I am a bit afraid of doing more damage in trying such a trick because I still don't know whats wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amit_mechengg View Post
i think its the pressure plate that is stuck. tow your car to maruti workshop. from baner i think MY CAR is nearby. they will open the clutch and examine.
Thanks Amit. The nearest MASS I have is Tune up plus in balewadi. I plan to take the car during the new year long wekeend.

As an update, yesterday I squeezed myself under the car to check for any physical damages but did'nt find any. I checked the cable operation also as Vigsom had sugested. This seems fine. Also, I had a look at the linkages while my father changed gears from inside the car. The shifting and slotting of gears sounded perect to me.

@rkguru, I am yet to check the cluthch play thing you suggested. not sure if I'll be able to make out exactly when the clutch is engaging.

am sure I'll have to get the clutch opened and checked. Any idea guys, how much does this kind of job cost at MASS?
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Old 27th December 2009, 19:13   #12
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Rodie,

Sorry to hear about the incident. There have been a spate of clutch failures on batches of Altos recently. One of our Bhpians Abhi (akroy) who owns a 2007 batch Alto had his clutch fail mysteriously in a similar manner.

Rewind back to May this year and the clutch on my then 11 month old Alto with just 14,000 clicks on the odo failed. I got mine replaced under warranty.

Based on this, I believe that the same happened to the clutch of your Alto as well. This seems to be a problem with a few batches of the Alto. Get it checked and replaced at your MASS. Since your car is out of warranty, you can be looking at a bill of ~Rs. 3500 for this job :(

Do keep us updated.

Regards,
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Old 27th December 2009, 19:51   #13
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Originally Posted by gpa View Post
Rodie,

Based on this, I believe that the same happened to the clutch of your Alto as well. This seems to be a problem with a few batches of the Alto. Get it checked and replaced at your MASS. Since your car is out of warranty, you can be looking at a bill of ~Rs. 3500 for this job :(
Hey gpa, am looking at a sum of abut 3.5 k from my estimate, if that inculdes everything at MASS , I wont be too dissappointed. However, it'd actually be premature to take a guess on bill without having the cause identified.

Interestingly gpa, your garage is pretty much like mine. I got an Aug 2004 Santro Xing XS clocked 51000 km, and a Jan 2007 Alto clocked 16000 km.
Since Alto was always a second car at my home, and I didnt like driving it much compared to Santro, it did not do many miles under warranty. Something I should have thought of.

I'll surely keep you guys updated, will have something next weekend probably.
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Old 27th December 2009, 23:55   #14
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cost of clutch and pressure plate is 1450/-. labour is 550/-. its a three hour job

do check the condition and grooves of fly wheel, release bearing and the spring. change them if found a slight sign of wear. as you will save time and labour in near future.
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Old 28th December 2009, 12:47   #15
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SirAlec, I am even more relieved with the costing you have mentioned but keeping fingers crossed.

Guys, I have one more question. I have been looking at other forums as well for such problem and found quite a few from outside India. Many of them also suggest trying the trick that Vigsom had suggested by trying to start the car in gear - suspecting a stuck plate. Also, a few have mentioned about the master or slave clutch cylinder being drained out of oil.
My question is (may sound stupid) that - does Alto have a hydraulically operated clutch. Does it have these cylinders? If yes, how do I locate them. The other day when I went underneath the car, I didnt notice any such thing or any oil leakage. However, I did not specifically look for these things. I am interested in this because as I have mentioned, I hit something just before this happened... If this is the case with me,I'll be spared of getting the gear box down.
One of the guys in other forum had exactly the same problem at about same speed of 80kmph when he tried to slow down. but he managed to get the car moving by starting in second gear and staying there in.
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