May 27

BMW 323i Clutch



Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 25 times their customers have voted them the best auto repair in Vancouver and we're talking cars. How are you doing, Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well today. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2009 BMW 323i with a bit of a slipping issue. What was going on with this car? 

Bernie: Yeah. So this vehicle came to our shop the owner's complaint was that the vehicle would rev up in pretty well any gear and wouldn't go anywhere or would move very slowly. So this is a rare model of a BMW 323, standard transmission. 

We work on a lot of these cars. It's the first one we've seen in a very long time with a standard transmission. So the clutch was slipping very badly. 

Mark: And what was the mileage on this vehicle? 

Bernie: It was a really low mileage car, only 38,000 kilometres. So kind of surprising for a clutch to wear out. Usually, you know, an average clutch, you'll get a hundred to even 200, if you're driving really gently on a flat terrain. And sometimes it's a bit of luck. A clutch is complicated. So there are various factors, but the disc itself, can last quite a long time, but this was kind of unusual for this amount.

Now, if you're a bad driver and that's the person who leaves their foot on the clutch pedal or drives like a race car driver, you could certainly shorten the life of it. And who knows, maybe this thing, even though it's an older car with not a lot of kilometres may have been driven like a race car for a while and wore the clutch out.

Mark: So what's the first step in diagnosing this to make sure, you think you know what it is, but let's determine what it is before you start taking things apart. 

Bernie: Yeah, so we have a clutch diagnostic process because not every clutch issue is the same, but the first step, of course, is to drive the vehicle and see what happens.

And sometimes the diagnosis pretty well ends right there. And in this case, that's exactly what happened. We tried driving the vehicle, you could tell, you know, the pedal felt normal, but the clutch disc slipped away. So we knew there was some severe wear in the clutch. And the only way to find out further, is to take the transmission out and examine the clutch. So that's where we proceeded. 

Mark: All right, let's take a look at some pictures here. 

Bernie: Let's do it. This is the vehicle. Good shape as many of them are. Still after 14 years. 

BMW 323i Clutch

So this is the clutch disc. This is the good side of the clutch disc. You'll see the other side is kind of interesting. There's still material left on this. This is, you know, quite worn, but and you can tell it's worn because of those lines that radiate out from the centre of the friction material.

BMW 323i Clutch

You can see the edges of them are kind of worn away, but the centre part is still there. And there's rivets that hold the friction material in place. And there's still quite a bit of material above the rivet. So this side of the disc is in fair shape. 

Let's have a look at the next picture. Now, this should look the same as the other side, but you can see that there's no friction material left. So it basically disintegrated and just blew apart. And that's why the clutch was slipping so badly.

BMW 323i Clutch

Also, of course, with these rivets rubbing against the pressure plate, you know, severely wore the pressure plate as well at the same time. 

Mark: So did you have to change the pressure plate as well as the clutch itself?

Bernie: We always replace the pressure plate. So a normal clutch job involves several parts. There's a pressure plate, the clutch disc and the release bearing. Those are sort of the main items that get replaced every time. There's also the flywheel, which is the other side, it's the engine side surface that the clutch disc rubs against. And on this, there are a couple of different styles of flywheels, but on a solid flywheel, we usually grind the flywheel. So it's completely flat and smooth.

But this vehicle has a, it's called a dual mass flywheel. It's a more complicated piece. All the springs that are normally in the clutch disc are in the flywheel and it's supposedly gives a better, smoother, engaging clutch. It's common on a lot of vehicles. The downside is you can't grind a dual mass flywheel.

The surface was actually in very good shape. There wasn't a lot of play or movement in the dual mass flywheel. So we ended up just leaving it. 

Mark: So how did everything work after you replaced the clutch? 

Bernie: Yeah, it was great. Fantastic, just like new. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your manual shifted BMW or any manual shifting, they change a lot of clutches at Pawlik Automotive, even though there's not that many in the world anymore. They seem to find Pawlik and they're the experts in Vancouver. You can reach them to book online at or you can phone them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to book ahead. They're always busy. Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Thanks for watching and listening. Thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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