2003 Hyundai Accent Clutch Sqeaking when depressed - serious?

noises
clutches

#1

Earlier this summer I bought a 2003 Hyundai Accent with 130k miles on it. Recently I have noticed a squeaking/squealing sound coming from underneath the hood. I first noticed it at traffic lights, but I have determined that it occurs whenever the clutch pedal is depressed, and continues until the clutch is released.

My first question is - is this serious? (Is it dangerous, or will it compound significantly if I do nothing?) The clutch still seems to work fine, and I can stop the noise at traffic lights etc… by putting the car into neutral and letting off the clutch.

My second question is, how did I cause this? Coasting with the clutch fully depressed, or too much downshifting?

Background: Recently, I bought a Scan Gauge to provide real-time fuel economy feedback, and began to experiment with different driving styles. I found that I could really boost my fuel economy by coasting down longer hills on the highway (when there were no other cars around). To do this I was pressing the clutch all the way to the floor, figuring it was the same as putting the car into neutral. When my speed began to decline after the hill I’d ease back into 5th. One hill in particular comes into town where there is a light. If the light turned red I would stop coasting and do some quick downshifting as well as breaking. I was pretty aggressive with the downshifting on a few occasions.

Did either the downshifting or the coasting likely contribute to my problem? If coasting was an issue, would coasting in neutral cause a similar problem?

Thanks!

Charlie


#2

The noise could be coming from the clutch release bearing, aka “throw-out” bearing.

This bearing wears when the clutch pedal is depressed, so if you’re coasting down long hills with the clutch pedal depressed, you’re accelerating the bearing’s wear. The noise will only get worse until the bearing is replaced, at which point you may as well have the whole clutch replaced.

You’re also not saving any gas. When you take your foot off the gas pedal going down a hill, in gear, power to the fuel injectors is cut, so there is no gas being used. If you shift to neutral or depress the clutch pedal, the injectors must keep injecting gas to maintain engine idle speed, resulting in MORE gas consumption.

Unplug the scan gauge and pay attention to the road. Coasting down hills is DANGEROUS, and you should not do it.

Downshifting to slow the car is using a very expensive clutch to do what the inexpensive brakes were designed to do. Why would you do that?


#3

Thanks for the info. As far as I can see, once you take the time or pay the cost of removing the transaxle, you might as well replace the whole clutch on a car this old anyways. I think I’ll probably just deal with the noise until the clutch starts giving me more trouble, then replace the whole thing.

I didn’t realize how much downshifting wore the clutch. (I had heard that engine braking caused no damage, but I guess that is limited to letting the rps drop in the gear you’re in?)