My mechanic suggests replacing the clutch, but it feels fine to me. Is this an upsell or serious problem?

Hi Lou,

My lovely wife has a summertime fun car – a 2001 Porsche Boxster S, with about 125,000 kilometres on it. We service it regularly. Last service was the major service and it came back with a note that said the “clutch engages high/diaphragm spring feels heavy. Suspect spring warped/cracked.” The recommendation was to replace the clutch assembly, to the tune of about $2,900.

Neither my wife nor I have noted anything unusual. Pedal pressure is firm but it always has been and there is no slippage. It seems like a lot to spend on a suspected flaw we haven’t noticed. Do we risk serious or more expensive damage or a dangerous (as opposed to inconvenient) breakdown if we let this slide until we notice a problem or it does break?

Thanks – Roger S., Edmonton.

P.S. I love the column! I hope you keep writing for years to come.

Thank you, Roger.

The clutch is comprised of three components that are almost always replaced as a kit. A pressure plate, friction disc and a release bearing. It is the friction disc that typically sees the most visible wear as it ages and slowly becomes thinner. It is this thinning friction disc that will cause the clutch engagement point to feel different. It is the pressure plate however that causes the pedal firmness to increase as the large diaphragm spring housed within it seizes on its pivot points.

Overcoming this spring will require more left leg pressure from the driver as it ages. Your Porsche is approaching 25 years old and likely has the original clutch. Any driver of a vehicle with relatively low yearly mileage will rarely notice the difference as the clutch slowly becomes stiffer and heavier to apply. That is of course until the clutch is replaced, then it’s completely obvious. Yes, sometimes we technicians get a kick out of watching customers pick up their vehicles after a clutch replacement and stall it multiple times trying to drive out of the parking lot without looking like a rookie. It takes even the most experienced manual transmission driver a moment or two to get the feel of a new clutch. I’ve had customers come back and say something is wrong and that the new clutch doesn’t feel right, and I must advise them this is the way it was originally.

How can I find a discontinued part for my older Audi?

While there is preventative maintenance and general servicing that hopefully keeps any vehicle in tip-top shape, I believe replacing a clutch without a noticeable problem cannot be thought of as preventative maintenance. It feels more like an upsell and an expensive one at that. If you can live with the engagement point and firmness, I would let it slide until you either start hearing noises when engaging/disengaging or feel slippage while driving.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail [email protected], placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the new Globe Drive Build and Price Tool to see the latest discounts, rebates and rates on new cars, trucks and SUVs. Click here to get your price.