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Old 05-10-2012, 08:12 PM   #1
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


I have an '03 Honda Civic with ~63K. It's new to me, I've had it only a few weeks, I've probably put about 700 miles on it. I noticed that when I start out in the morning the past few days (it's been rainy), I'll get a nasty "shudder", shakes the whole car like crazy, if I don't let the clutch out a little slower than usual and keep the RPMs up. It's almost exclusively a starting in 1st gear issue, tho there is a shudder or two if I'm too quick on the 1st to 2nd shift. Once it's warmed up, say a mile or two, I have no problem and it drives fine, starts in 1st are what I would describe as typical.

Basically I don't care about this happening--I'm fine with just slipping it a bit more if that's "the way Honda's are" or something... but I'm trying to figure out if this is indicative of a clutch or flywheel that are on the way out.

I have no idea how long clutches are supposed to last, I'd guess about 80-150K? All I know is that my last car (VW) I went from 30-90K w/o touching it and the car before that (Saturn) had 120K when I got it (original clutch, I knew the prev. owner) and had 140K when I traded it. So I figure if this shudder is a sign of a failing clutch then I want to go brow beat the dealer that sold it to me until they agree to compensate me if I need a clutch within a year or so.

Thx

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Old 05-11-2012, 06:37 AM   #2
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


HI Bubbler. Clutch longevity is a function of a few things. First, how it was driven. I drive a clutch properly and have gotten 200k out of clutches. My truck has 180k on it right now. If someone uses the clutch to hold themselves on a hill (instead of the brake), it will wear out quickly. Also, how hard the car is driven has an effect as well. A lot of civics get beat since the drivers tend to be younger.

As far as the shudder, it isn't great, but doesn't mean the clutch is on it's way out either. My truck will do the same thing when it's cold. Once everything warms up, it works fine.

Look for the warning signs. Is the clutch slipping under power, while accelerating in higher gears or catching close to the top of the pedal? Those are the normal signs of a clutch that is worn.

Replacing a clutch on a Civic is not a horrible job, but is an advanced DIY job. If you do replace it, get a good replacement. I usually put in Exedy for Hondas as they last. Have your flywheel resurfaced and replace your rear main oil seal on the motor as well when you do it.


But, of more concern is the timinng belt. Has the timing belt been changed? Honda spec is 105k miles (I shudder at waiting that long), but also 7 yrs. Your belt is 9 yrs old. The motor is interference meaning if the belt breaks, the pistons can hit the valves and damage the motor. If you haven't done that maintenance, I would get it done ASAP.

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Old 05-11-2012, 06:47 AM   #3
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


Thanks.

The clutch does engage a bit high in my opinion, but there's no slipping under power and I can stall it by letting out fast, so I would imagine it's got reasonable bite.

I know about the timing belt, and I'm guessing it was not done by the previous owner. In hind sight it's something I should have pressed the dealer to do for their cost before I bought it, knowing as you say that it was due based on age alone. My plan now was wait about a year and have it done hoping that the age based replacement is a conservative one.

It's stupid of course because I say to myself that I don't have the $800 to replace it now so I want to wait a year, but do I have the $3500 for engine repair if it breaks on my ride into work this morning? It's a gamble I suppose.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:13 AM   #4
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


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Thanks.

The clutch does engage a bit high in my opinion, but there's no slipping under power and I can stall it by letting out fast, so I would imagine it's got reasonable bite.

I know about the timing belt, and I'm guessing it was not done by the previous owner. In hind sight it's something I should have pressed the dealer to do for their cost before I bought it, knowing as you say that it was due based on age alone. My plan now was wait about a year and have it done hoping that the age based replacement is a conservative one.

It's stupid of course because I say to myself that I don't have the $800 to replace it now so I want to wait a year, but do I have the $3500 for engine repair if it breaks on my ride into work this morning? It's a gamble I suppose.
Yep, it's a gamble. If your handy, it's really not a bad job. I usually replace everything while I am in there (water pump, idler, tensioner, cam and crank seals, valve cover gasket). The parts will run about $200-$300 and it's done in an afternoon.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:39 AM   #5
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


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Originally Posted by Marty1Mc View Post
Yep, it's a gamble. If your handy, it's really not a bad job. I usually replace everything while I am in there (water pump, idler, tensioner, cam and crank seals, valve cover gasket). The parts will run about $200-$300 and it's done in an afternoon.
I'm reasonably handy w/ cars, but I've only ever worked on domestics and they were much larger. I've done basics--plugs, O2, exhausts, water pump, alternator, distributor/tfi modules, etc... but not many of those have really involved a torque wrench which worries me

Also, I installed a trailer hitch on it the other week to pull my tiny 40x48 landscape trailer, and when I was wiring it to the main buss near the battery all I can say is that the engine compartment on this thing seemed impossibly small and I was glad I planned to take it to the dealer/mechanic for everything

So you think this is an afternoon driveway job for someone like me, or am I better off to get someone else to do it? I've just got the one car, and no local friends/family to loan me one (or take me to the parts store mid-job)...

Repairpal.com says that I'm looking at $800-1000 to get the timing belt, tensioner and water-pump done together, I didn't factor in the other seals, etc as well so maybe it jumps up closer to $1200 at the high end.
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:16 AM   #6
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


On the clutch, it is just getting older and the springs on the clutch plate (not pressure plate) are not as strong as they were, heat and use will make the springs lose tension. Over night the flywheel is warm when you park the car, then it cools off at night and will get a slight film of rust or oxidation on the smooth surface of the flywheel, or the clutch plate is a little gummy, when you start off in the morning the clutch plate will grab the oxidation on the flywheel or the gum will grab and the springs being weaker than when new will chatter and you can feel the jerking. Once the oxidation is wore off the flywheel or the gum is warm, it will once again be smooth and slick and will not garb.
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Old 05-11-2012, 02:15 PM   #7
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


Here's a link to a DIY belt replacement procedure for a civic. Read through it and decide for yourself.

http://www.civicforums.com/forums/11...-belt-diy.html
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Old 05-11-2012, 02:46 PM   #8
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


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Here's a link to a DIY belt replacement procedure for a civic. Read through it and decide for yourself.

http://www.civicforums.com/forums/11...-belt-diy.html
Thanks for sending, looks like a good site for info...

...but yikes... I got the dry heaves somewhere around "Section L"

... think I'll let a professional worry about this, and I'll stick to the easy stuff like changing my radio stations and wiping out the cup holders
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Old 05-11-2012, 03:08 PM   #9
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


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Thanks for sending, looks like a good site for info...

...but yikes... I got the dry heaves somewhere around "Section L"

... think I'll let a professional worry about this, and I'll stick to the easy stuff like changing my radio stations and wiping out the cup holders
I think that if you feel it is too complicated, then it's a wise decision to have the work done. After all, if you get the valve timing wrong on a honda motor, you can damage it. It's really not that hard, just a lot of steps. The belt placement on the pulleys, alignment of the timing marks, and tension are critical, though. I remember when I did my first one around 30 yrs ago. I was nervous, especially firing the motor afterward. But, once it ran and I verified the timing was right, I wasn't nervous after that on any other ones I have done.

It's always the first step that's the hardest.
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Old 05-11-2012, 03:29 PM   #10
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


The shuddering doesn't sound clutch related to me... it sounds more like a vacuum leak or some other engine tuning problem. Check the hoses and ignition system for cracks or bad wires.
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Old 05-11-2012, 05:16 PM   #11
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


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The shuddering doesn't sound clutch related to me... it sounds more like a vacuum leak or some other engine tuning problem. Check the hoses and ignition system for cracks or bad wires.
Well, it runs perfectly fine otherwise, and I'm averaging 38MPG and that's driving on rt128 at rush hours (you're from MA so I assume you know), meaning I'm not exactly cruising at a steady 55...

It also recovers instantly if I give more gas or push in the clutch pedal a bit more...

But, I do notice that it cranks for 3-4 seconds to start in the morning vs. 1-2 seconds after it's warmed. So about 2-3X more time... I just assumed this was normal for this car, tho I will admit it's been a long time since I've owned a car that required more cranking to start when cold then when warm...... I take that back... my ex's Subaru would take a long time to crank in the mornings too, so from my perspective 100% of the Japanese branded cars I have experience with DO require longer cranking times in the morning ;-)
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:03 PM   #12
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'03 Honda Civic, clutch question


your clutch is likely OK, unless car was badly raced. They last well into mid 100 000s. Do this - start engine, engage parking brake, engage 1st gear and slowly release clutch. If engine stalls, clutch is good. Of course, if your parking brake is good. Or, you can do same, with bumper against some solid resistance, in case parking brake is shot.
shudder is coming from bad engine mounts and engine vibration. Vibration is coming from causes multiple, including failing idle speed control valve, air/vacuum leaks, dirty injectors, bad spark plugs, and so on.
here's plethora of knowledge on Hondas:

http://www.tegger.com/hondafaq/faq.html#mastertop

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