Is Maura's Land Cruiser seranading her, or is her clutch going out?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

You're not going to believe this, but I can actually play jingle bells by tapping my gas pedal! My gas pedal seems to control an annoying whistle coming from the engine of my '78 Toyota Land Cruiser. Speeding, climbing hills, and idling stops it. Depressing the clutch stops it, too. It happens any time, engine hot or cold, and it can disappear for days at a time only to return. Should I be shopping for a new car as a belated Christmas present or what?

RAY: It's not THAT dire, Maura, although the news is hardly what I'd call cheery. I think your clutch release bearing is on the way out. That would make a very rapid chirping sound--like "eeek eeek eeek"--which could easily be described as a whistling.

TOM: A bad clutch release bearing would change pitch as you accelerated and decelerated, and would also go away when you stepped on the clutch. Depending on how the internal bearings happen to be situated, the noise could even disappear entirely at times.

RAY: And the reason it's going bad is that either the clutch has been out of adjustment for a long time, or you sit at traffic lights with your foot resting against the clutch pedal. So now you know how to keep this from happening to your NEXT clutch.

TOM: But what should you do about this one? I'd say do nothing, Maura. If our diagnosis is correct, the "whistling" will eventually turn into a really horrible grinding noise. And at that point, even my brother would be able to say for certain what it is. But since there's a chance that it could be something simpler, like an exhaust rattle, I wouldn't mess around with it right now.

RAY: Actually, there is one thing you could do while you're waiting. You could start practicing some Easter know, "Hippity Hoppity Easter's on it's way..." 1834

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