Tell me it's not normal for a Suburu clutch to wear out every 26k miles!

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

The clutch had to be replaced on our 1990 Subaru Legacy Wagon at 26,000 miles. My husband and I each have more than 15 years of experience driving with a clutch and our other three cars had original clutches at over 80,000 miles. The Subaru wagon was never used for heavy towing or moving. Our Subaru service manager said the clutch was hydraulic and could not be adjusted, and that it was normal for it to be replaced at 26,000 miles. I wasn't satisfied with that answer and contacted two other Subaru dealers for their opinions. Both service managers said the clutch was not hydraulic and should be adjusted. One said it should be adjusted every 5,000 miles and the other said to adjust it every 15,000 miles. Which service manager, if any, do we believe?

TOM: Well, definitely not the one who told you that it's normal to replace a clutch at 26,000 miles.

RAY: And since he's the same guy who told you that your car has an hydraulic clutch when it doesn't have an hydraulic clutch, we'll scratch him off our Christmas card list right now.

TOM: The other two guys are much closer to being right. In our experience, Subaru clutches are not that great to start out with. And they definitely get ruined in a hurry if they're driven while out of adjustment.

RAY: When a clutch goes out of adjustment, even though the clutch pedal is all the way out, the clutch behaves like it would if the pedal were partially depressed. That means you're always riding the clutch...even when your foot's off the pedal. And that makes it wear out incredibly quickly....sometimes by like, 26,000 miles!

TOM: How often do you need to adjust it to prevent this premature burn out? It depends on how you drive. But I would at least have the clutch adjustment CHECKED every time I go in for service. In your case, that would be about every 7,500 miles.

RAY: Regular adjustments may not get you 80,000 miles out of a Subaru clutch, but at least they'll keep you from having to join the clutch-of-the-month club.

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