Abnormal Clutch Wear - 1993 Mazda Protege

I just received lousy news from the transmission shop (name omitted but they’re a franchise of a national name beep-beep).

We had the clutch on the Protege replaced about 6 months ago and it’s gone out again. We returned the car for warranty work (supposed to be 1 year) and the shop refused to repair it, saying that the clutch was abused.

I’ll admit that it was my 19 year old daughter driving the car, but she’s not a hot-rodder, and has been driving manual transmissions since she got her license and hasn’t gone through any other clutches.

My question is…what conditions, possibly not related to driving habits could cause the clutch to fail so soon? Could it be that it was installed out of adjustment? Could a throw-out bearing be weak? Could some other part be weak or out of adjustment that could cause this to fail?

I just need some more information when I go back to talk to this guy.


Has he provided any proof to support his claim that the clutch was abused? If so, what is it?

He showed me the clutch (or at least what he said was the clutch) and it did look blackend. I’m just not sure that he isn’t trying to jerk me around.

How thick were the pads?

Material transfer from the flywheel and pressure plate surfaces can cause a “blackened” (dirty really) pad surface. Although the pads are the much softer sacrificial material, the reality is that some metal wears off. Things to look for are discoloration of the flywheel and/or pressure plate surfaces due to heat, chipping (better term?) of the clutchplate pads at the edges, very thin pad material after very few miles, things like that.

If she’s been driving clutches for the past three years and this is the first time this has happened, I’d be extremely suspicious. Unless she’s now letting her botfriend drive. Although there may not be anything you can do at this opint other than find a new shop in the future.

In all fairness, a lot of people have had to replace clutches shortly after teaching a new driver to drive. They don’t need to be hot roding to burn a clutch. Just learning how to use one can really be hard on a clutch.

If the clutch was burned or worn, it could have been their fault, but most likely it was the driver.

If the original clutch job was done properly (flywheel inspected, surfaced if necessary) and the entire clutch assembly was replaced (this means a new pressure plate) then it could point to driving habits.

A poster on this board about 2 years ago? bought a VW New Beetle and her daughter knocked the clutch out it the very next day while she was teaching her daughter how to drive a manual.

One thing that can cause a clutch to go out quickly is a clutch adjustment that is too tight. There should be a little freeplay on the pedal (~3/4 inch) before the heavy force from the pressure plate is felt. I am not sure which type of release linkage the Protege uses. If it is a hydraulic system, it is very unlikely to have been misadjusted. But, if it is cable system, it is possible that the adjustment was set wrong or the automatic adjustment mechanism is faulty.

Had you driven the car just before the clutch failed? Was the pickup point of the engagement awful high, almost at the up pedal limit? If the pickup point just before failure was in the middle (about a couple of inches off the floor), then my idea is bogus and you will have to look elsewhere.