Mark: Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, and we're talking cars. How are you this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: A 2007 Kia Rio that was having a increasingly rare thing, a clutch problem. What was going on with this Kia?
Bernie: Well, the owner brought the vehicle to our shop with a clutch making a lot of noise and not functioning very well, so we proceeded to do some work on it.
Mark: And what did you find?
Bernie: Well, this is interesting, what we found. Just a little background. The way our shop's laid out, we often don't have parking out in front of the shop, so the owner of the vehicle drove the car to our shop. We parked it out back in our parking area out back and left it there for a day or so before we could work on it. Went into the vehicle to start it up and move it around into the shop, and pressed the clutch pedal. It made a big loud banging noise, and the engine wouldn't even turn over. It just made a click. So we went, "Huh, that's interesting."
Anyways, we had to actually have the vehicle towed around, because it's out on a road. Had it towed into the shop, and pulled it apart. Figured something catastrophic obviously happened to the clutch, something broke. What we found is the actual clutch release ... the clutch was so badly worn it basically jammed up and wouldn't allow the engine to turn over.
Mark: Wouldn't the clutch have been making some kind of loud noises or in some other indication that there was a problem before it sort of had this catastrophic failure?
Bernie: Absolutely. It would have been making noise for quite some time, I would think, prior to it wearing so badly. Some people's tolerance for noises and issues seem to be larger, if that's the right word, than others. Some people wait a little longer and don't quite take up the signs. Some people, it's like the first little minute noise, it's like, "I gotta get it fixed." Other people, it's like they wait till things break. As I say, the owner of this vehicle actually was able to drive it to the shop, so they waited to just about the very last minute. And I've had this happen a few times on cars, where something's making a noise. Just drive it into the shop, and all of a sudden the part actually falls apart. So sometimes people's timing is pretty impeccable.
Mark: As a result of the clutch being this worn, were there other further repairs required?
Bernie: Yeah. Well, let's go and look at some pictures, because this is interesting. I always love showing pictures of these kind of things.
Here's our '07 Kia Rio, nice little economy car. This is after the clutch was fixed, not that it looks any different on the outside. Let's have a look at some pictures of the clutch. This is what we found when we took the transmission out.
This is the clutch release fork, and this fork is supposed to sit behind this part here, that's the clutch release bearing. There's the face of the clutch release bearing that actually rubs on the pressure plate.
If you look down here, you can actually see a few little ball bearings. You can see some chunks of metal here. This bearing is basically completely broken apart. This fork has jumped out of place, and what happened is, at that moment where we pushed the clutch pedal down, basically the fork just broke off and ran right into the clutch pressure plate, which is turned by engine, and jammed everything up.
Here's a view of the pressure plate. That horribly scored surface there should not look like that at all. When everything's in good order, it should just look more like this area here. This has been scored extremely badly from the bearing basically being seized. We're talking about would it have been making noise? Yes, a horrific noise for probably quite a long time. What else have we got here? There's the fork after we kind of fiddled with it a bit. It's basically just, again, broken apart a little more. Again, all these ball bearings, they're supposed to sit inside a cage inside this surface here, so you can see it's all come apart pretty badly.
Other damage, this is the shaft. This is called the collar. It's on the transmission. This is where the clutch release bearing slides. You can see some pretty deep gouges here. This is pretty severe damage. Fortunately, we were able to repair it, but had we not been able to, and sometimes it happens, we would have had to replace the transmission. A lot of older American vehicles, this collar was a bolted-on piece, so you'd sort of bolt on here and you could replace it. But on most newer type of transmission transaxles, this collar's all part of the transmission housing, so if it's damaged you replace the whole transmission.
Mark: Manual transmissions are becoming a bit of a dying breed of way of shifting an engine's transmission.
Mark: They're sort of, they're disappearing. They're not made very often anymore.
Bernie: No, they're not. They're certainly a lot less common.
Mark: This is a front wheel drive car?
Bernie: It's a front wheel drive, yeah.
Mark: So is that fairly tricky to pull out of the car?
Bernie: This one's a bit of work. You have to remove the subframe in this vehicle, so it's a little more involved than a lot of other transmission jobs. Some are easier than others. I mean, the easiest transmissions are your older American vehicles. Trucks, often they're very easy to remove the transmission. But as time as gone by, we do so many of them, they just become commonplace, and you don't ... It's more labor-intensive than, say, a traditional rear wheel drive vehicle.
Mark: With all the noise and indication, was there anything that the car owner could do to prevent this type of clutch wear and tear?
Bernie: No. I mean, the thing about the clutch release bearing is, it's just going to wear out when it wears out. It's a lubricated and sealed part, and at some point it will wear out. The thing with clutches is you never know which piece is going to go first. The most common wear item is the clutch disk, which is the friction disk, and you'll notice that's worn out, because when you go up a hill, all of a sudden the vehicle will slip. The engine will rev, but the vehicle won't move. That's sort of the most common problem. The bearing, as I say, it's a sealed bearing, so it'll wear out whenever it chooses to. You've just got to keep your ears open for noise, and when it starts making noise ... and you hear the noise as soon as you put your foot on the clutch, there'll be a grinding noise or just a louder noise than usual. If you hear any noise when you push the clutch pedal, there's something wrong, probably the release bearing is on its way out.
In the case of this vehicle, the extra repairs we needed to do was on that collar, and also the release fork got badly damaged. Sometimes forks need to be replaced anyhow, and it's not a very expensive part, but that was an extra piece that would not have needed to be replaced had this bearing not worn out so badly.
Mark: Now, I'm going to make a big leap here and just say that, do you think they were drag racing this car, because isn't this sort of a drag racing kind of issue that you could see?
Bernie: No, this is just a wear and tear issue. If you were racing the car a lot, yeah, you'd wear these parts out faster, but probably the disk would go more frequently. Really, I mean the reason everything's damaged is because it was left too long making noise. I know a month or two ago, we did a podcast on a Honda Element with a really badly worn release bearing. If you look back at that podcast, that bearing was one stage before this one. It was like, had the owner driven for another few days to a week, that would have busted apart just like this one. Listen for noises. When you hear them, get it fixed as soon as possible.
Mark: Kia Rios are a pretty basic economy car. How are they for reliability?
Bernie: Yeah, they're good. Yeah, it's a decent, reliable car, for sure. There's nothing really that leaps out at me that's problematic or a common failure item on them. They're a pretty good car overall. You know, sometimes I think economy car, it's going to have cheaper parts, so it's not going to last as long, as opposed to a more expensive car, but really I think what you pay for often ... I mean, you do get better quality in some ways when you buy a more expensive car, but a lot of times it's more of the features and the ride that you get in the car, not necessarily the reliability. The economy car just doesn't ride as smoothly, and the doors are tinnier, and that kind of thing, but to get from A to B, still works the same way.
Mark: So there you go. If you need service for your Kia in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. Have to book ahead, they're busy. Or check out their website, pawlikautomotive.com. YouTube, hundreds of videos. Search for Pawlik Auto Repair. Repairs of all makes and models of cars over the last five years. Or, hope you're enjoying the podcasts, and thank you very much for listening. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark.