December 15

Subaru Clutch Replacement

Auto Repair, Subaru


Today’s featured service is Subaru Clutch Replacement performed on a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5XT, brought to us by a client from Vancouver.

Subaru Clutch

2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT

While many makes of cars come almost exclusively equipped with automatic transmissions, a high percentage of Subaru vehicles are sold with manual transmissions. All manual transmissions have clutches, and inevitably clutches wear out and require replacement.

Our featured Subaru arrived by tow truck as the owner could no longer shift the vehicle into any gear. The clutch pedal sat on the floor and would not operate the clutch.

Like all modern vehicles Subarus us a hydraulic system to connect the clutch pedal with the clutch itself. Our first line of inspection was to examine the clutch fluid level: we found the reservoir empty. Further examination found that the clutch hose was leaking.

Replacement of the clutch hose and bleeding the hydraulic system restored operation of the clutch however it revealed other concerns. We were able to put the car into gear but it required a bit of force and occasionally made a grinding noise. Also on the road test we noted that the slightest press on the pedal had the clutch slipping. Clearly the clutch itself was worn out and needed replacement. These concerns had undoubtly been occurring before the clutch hose failed and caused the clutch to be completely inoperative.

Subaru clutch replacement is a fairly straight forward operation however it can be more complex than other vehicles due to the additional all wheel drive components. We have done many Subaru clutches but found something unique with this model and that was the use of a dual mass flywheel. The Outback 2.5XT features a high performance turbocharged engine. Though a dual mass flywheel doesn’t make a clutch any stronger the manufacturer must have felt compelled to use this system for other reasons. Usually this system is used to smooth out vibrations in the drive train and permit easier shifting.

Replacement of a dual mass flywheel clutch can and usually does add significant costs because the flywheel is a wearable part. On solid flywheel equipped vehicles the flywheel is normally ground smooth as part of the service. Because a dual mass flywheel contains 2 separate parts, attached by a bearing and springs it cannot be ground and even if it could be, there is a strong likelihood that the moving parts are weak or worn out.

Subaru Clutch

Old dual mass flywheel

When servicing vehicles with dual mass flywheels there are several repair options: 1) replace the flywheel with a new dual mass flywheel, 2) replace the flywheel and clutch with a solid flywheel conversion kit, 3) if the flywheel looks good just leave it. Generally costs for repairs are in ascending order. Dual mass flywheels usually cost between $1000 to $2000 dollars and you have to replace the other clutch parts: pressure plate, disc and release bearing for additional cost. The conversion kits are reasonably priced and include all new parts including a solid flywheel. Leaving the flywheel is the lowest cost option however there is a big risk that if the flywheel fails down the road that it will require the whole job to be redone.

Subaru Clutch

New singe mass flywheel installed

On our featured Subaru 2.5XT we opted to use the conversion kit. This ensures that the clutch will operate perfectly and leaves nothing to fail at a later date. When the clutch next wears out replacement is significantly less expensive.

There are reasons why dual mass flywheels are used however we have installed many of these conversions on a variety of vehicles from Dodge diesel trucks to other Japanese and European cars and they always shift smoothly and accurately. The dual mass system is never missed.

Subaru Clutch

Clutch assembly installed and ready for transmission installation. This view shows the pressure plate bolted onto the flywheel, the clutch disc sits in between.

For more about dual mass flywheels click here

For more about the Subaru Outback click here

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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