Post and Courier
September 18, 2014

Car Talk - Modern technology not so helpful when it comes to replacing certain stick-shift parts

Posted: 12/28/2013 12:01 a.m.

Q.

I am an old-timer and have driven manual transmissions since the late '60s. In those days, I was told that it is not good to leave the clutch depressed when at a stoplight, as it would prematurely wear out the throw-out bearing. I am now driving a 2009 Mini Cooper with a six-speed manual transmission, and I'm wondering if this old rule still applies. Or has modern technology improved to the point where this is no longer an issue? Thank you!


TOM: No. Modern technology has not improved to the point where this is not an issue.

RAY: In other words, it's still an issue.

TOM: In fact, back in the late '60s, it was far easier to change a release (aka throw-out) bearing when one went bad. Many simple, rear-wheel-drive cars from that era had transmissions that you could take out with half a dozen bolts.

RAY: Or, put a less-appealing way, the transmission could fall out of the car if only half a dozen bolts worked themselves loose!

TOM: On some cars, like Chryslers and AMCs, you could have the transmission out and on the floor, and a new release bearing in, in half an hour!

RAY: These days, it's a nightmare. You have to pull the sub frame down, and sometimes you have to pull the engine and transmission together. So you want to do everything you can to prolong your release bearing's existence.

TOM: To do that, you do exactly what you've been doing since the '60s: You don't sit at a traffic light with your foot on the clutch; instead, put the transmission in neutral, and take your foot off the clutch pedal. Your release bearing is working only when the clutch pedal is depressed.

RAY: By the way, if a customer ever does need a release bearing these days, we will always put in a completely new clutch at the same time. With all that labor involved, you'd be really ticked off if you replaced the release bearing only to have the clutch fail six months later.

TOM: And the reverse is true, too. If a person needs a clutch, we always put in a new release bearing at the same time.

RAY: But at $1,800 for a clutch job these days, you want to put it off as long as possible. So rest that left leg.

Q.

The clock in my Jeep Liberty requires resetting every two weeks. Apparently, the clock is moving backward in time. After two weeks, the clock will be three minutes slow. What causes this? Is this an indication of a larger problem?


TOM: Yes, it's an indication of a larger problem. The problem is that Chrysler wasn't aiming for bulletproof quality when they made this vehicle.

RAY: And apparently, they opted for a nine-cent clock. That's why it runs slow: The clock is cheap junk.

TOM: The problem now is that it'll cost you a lot more than the clock is worth to remove and replace it. You don't say what year Liberty it is, but the clock probably is part of the radio display. So you'd have to replace the entire audio system just to fix the clock. And unless you're still under warranty, that's hardly worth the cost and trouble.

RAY: Besides, if the problem is in the manufacturing or design of an inferior part, you'll only be replacing it with another one that'll run slow, too. Maybe slower!

TOM: So you're a candidate for a solution we haven't recommended in many years now: Go buy one of those three-for-a-dollar, stick-on digital clocks, and slap it right over where your clock is.

RAY: It might not be any better in quality (it may even be the same clock!), but at least if it runs slow, you'll have the satisfaction of ripping it off the dashboard, tossing it out the window at high speed and replacing it with a new one for 33 cents.

TOM: Actually, we don't want to condone littering. So after you rip it off the dashboard, take it home with you and run over it a few times in your driveway ... then sweep up the remains, and dispose of them properly.



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