Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive podcast. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing well.
Mark: So, we're going to talk about a Honda Element 2006 that had a clutch release bearing problem. What was going on with this, a little bit unique vehicle?
Bernie: Well, when you push the clutch in, it made a rather horrific grinding, grating noise. And it's not ... wasn't too difficult to determine that the problem was either a warn out clutch release bearing or something wrong with the actual clutch mechanism, like the pressure plate or disc. But usually a noise like that is pretty indicative of a bad clutch release bearing.
Mark: So what's a clutch release bearing?
Bernie: Well, what it is, the way a clutch works, it has a disc that attaches to the transmission. It's like a friction disc, kind of like a brake pad. And then there's a fly wheel and a pressure plate, which are bolted to the engine. And these ... The pressure plate clamps the clutch disc to the, between the pressure plate and the fly wheel, and the release bearing basically facilitates releasing the pressure plates. So when you push the clutch pedal down, it moves a few parts and pieces, eventually moves the clutch release bearing which presses against the pressure plate. There's a lot of force and friction. A lot of movement. There's a spinning at the speed of the engine, so it could be anywhere from 500 to 6,000 RPM, so it's got to handle a lot of pressure and speed. So that's what the clutch release bearing is that sort of intermediary piece.
Mark: And what was involved with this repair?
Bernie: Well, anything like a clutch release bearing always involves taking the transmission out of the vehicle, so we had to remove the transmission, and basically replace the whole clutch. While we're at it, we'll just have a look at some photos.
Here's our Honda Element '06 again, you were saying a unique vehicle. Very utilitarian, but practical. Our next photo we'll look at is, this is the one out clutch release bearing. So, this bearing it sits on a ... It's called a collar in the transmission, and it slides up and down in this piece, and this piece here is what rubs against the pressure plate. And inside, which you can't really see, there's a ... And normally you can't really see it, there's a number of ball bearings that sit in a race. And they're lubricated. It's sealed. And what's happened with this one, I actually didn't take it quite apart, but the actual bearings are ... There's only about a quarter of as many bearings as there's supposed to be, because the rest of them broke and then fallen apart. And, if you look at this bluish colour here, this is a bluing from excessive heat. So this thing is basically most of the time been seized up, when it's running against the transmission for quite a long time. That explains the racket and the noise. And this rough surface is again metal transfer that's been transferred from the pressure plate. This is what the release bearing rubs against. So this is a pressure plate, and these are the fingers. And these pieces here, you can see, there's quite a step of wear it's not supposed to be like that. So, this clutch is basically moments away from complete failure. The bearing would have just broken apart, and pieces would have gone flying everywhere. It would have been horrific. The clutch disc by the way, is sort of in here and there's a ... you can see, this spline is where the transmission shaft slides into. So, we'll get into what it looked like after fixed, so you can have an idea. So that is the new bearing installed on the collar, with lubricant and the ball bearings I mentioned are in here, you notice ... It's a shinier piece than the older one, but also there's no bluing colour here, and a look at the pressure plate. That is a good, new ... That is before installation, this is a new pressure plate, you can see a noticeable difference here with the fingers here. They're not ground down or worn. They're nice and thick and unworn.
Mark: So that's a big job. Is there anything that can be done to prolong the life of the clutch release bearing in the fingers?
Bernie: Actually, there is. This is one thing that's good news, and it all involves your driving habits. So, if your familiar with the term "riding the clutch," it basically means that your putting your foot on the clutch pedal, and a little bit of pressure on the clutch pedal, when you don't actually need it. So, you should only ever put your foot on the clutch pedal when you actually want to disengage it. At any other time, when your driving down the road, you just leave your foot off the clutch pedal. Because riding it is the first way to destroy the clutch release bearing. Because your just using it more than it needs to be used. Really the key to the clutch is just use it only when you need to. So, if your sitting at a red light. Your there for you know, I don't know, 40 seconds, a minute, put the car in neutral and take your foot off the clutch, it'll rest your foot anyways and you can shift into gear when your ready to move. If your anticipating you have to move, of course, it's much safer to be in gear, but if you know your going to be sitting somewhere for a while, put on the brake, just leave it. And that's probably the best single thing you can do with the clutch, to prolong the life of the release bearing. I mean, they will wear anyways. And it's hard to know, with this vehicle is interesting, because the actual clutch disc was quite thick, and yet the release bearing was completely fried and the pressure plate ... So, the fly wheel surface was really badly worn like it had got very hot, so it's hard to know who had been driving this vehicle in the past, may have had some kind of strange habits. I mean, maybe they rode the clutch and that's what wore that particular ... wore the bearing out.
Mark: So no resting your foot on the clutch pedal.
Bernie: No. No resting your foot. That is not a place to rest your foot. Do not do it unless you want to come in and have your clutch replaced frequently.
Mark: Which we highly recommend.
Mark: As I'm ... So, we talked about the Honda elephant Element being unique vehicle. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: Yeah, they're really good. I mean, it's a Honda product. There's really ... They're very reliable ... As they get older, and we do actually service a lot of them that tend to get on in age, and they do need a few repairs and some of them become a standard, so clutches wear out, and brakes and things. But, overall it's a very reliable vehicle. You know, with good sound engineering and the kind of product you expect from Honda, it's reliable.
Mark: So there you go. If you need some service on your Honda Elephant, the guys to see you are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 in Vancouver to book your appointment. Remember they are busy. They are 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver. And they've been repairing and maintaining cars in Vancouver for over 38 years. You can also check out the website pawlikautomotive.com on YouTube. Pawlik Auto Repair. Hundreds of videos on there. Or, our new lovely podcast. Hopefully your listening. Thank you so much. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark.