Clutch Kill Question

I towed my Hyundai wagon (about 2600 lbs) out of the ditch with my friend’s '97 Jeep Cherokee the other day, with the jeep in 4 low. I was on ice and tried pulling it out several times with the jeep’s tires slipping on the ice. I don’t believe I was excessive on the RPM’s. After chipping away enough ice to get to bare pavement, we pulled out the car with no trouble. Afterward, the Jeep was driven into town and back, a total trip of about 10 miles with no problems.

The next day, another trip into town was made, and the clutch suffered a failure while in a coffee shop drive-through. I’d like to get some experienced opinions on if the towing did in the clutch. The Jeep has 205 kmi on it, and it was the original clutch. It was not slipping before, but whenever it was engaged, a squealing could be heard (throw-out bearing?). I don’t know how long that has been going on, possibly quite a while. Also, when the clutch failed, the driver had the clutch engaged while ordering at the drive-through window (a bad habit I know).

Thanks for the info.

With 205 km (125 miles) on a 12 yo clutch, and a noisy throwout bearing, the towing just finished off a job that was just getting started. But, it was going to fail at some time soon with that noisy bearing. I’d be surprised if it didn’t fail because of the throwout bearing.

At 205 kmi the clutch had led a full life anyway. The towing may have just hastened the demise a bit.

Yeah, the squealing could have been the throw out bearing. Or the clutch plate. Of the pressure plate assembly. Your description isn’t clear enough to guess. They’re all parts of a clutch job anyway.

The noise was a squealing, not loud like a fan belt, but audible enough to be heard over the engine, and it only happened when the clutch was being engaged.

I’m wondering if it was the throw-out bearing that failed since it was making noise. There was no detectable slipping (that I know of) up until the failure point. When the clutch failed, there was a loud bang, and the engine stalled and would not restart. The clutch pedal would only go down about half-way and no more (probably was not hitting the clutch/start button to let the engine turn over). The Jeep was able to be pushed out of the way and towed to a shop.

That sounds similar to what can happen when a throwout bearing frags. It jams in the pressure plate. I’d hate to be the guy that replaces that clutch. May not be as bad as it sounds, but also could be a bear to pull the transmission.

Alternative to that was that the throw-out bearing froze some time ago and it wore down the fingers of the pressure plate, eventually wore through so now the bearing is on the wrong side of the fingers. The clutch pedal should go to the floor in that scenario though.

So… I can see a towing/pulling situation leading to the demise of the disc material. Would it also be the final straw that would kill the throwout bearing?

If the throwout bearing was making noise BEFORE the towing/pulling, then the pulling contributed very little to it’s demise. The throwout bearing was already bad, and simply got much worse. Happens when you ignore a problem too long.

Follow up: attached are photos of the disc, whats left of the throw-out bearing, and the pressure plate. The bearing looks like it got cooked. I don’t think the towing had anything to do with it, but I’ve offered to make a small donation towards the repair bill anyway. Thanks for all of the information!

The plate and disc look to be in pretty good shape for 205K miles…One small point…When you step on a clutch pedal, your are disengaging the clutch…When you release the pedal, you are engaging it…

Yup. Fragged throwout bearing. I’ve seen worse, but that one is definitely the problem. Clutch disc and pressure plate look good. I hope your replacing them anyways. Might as well do a proper clutch job while your in there. Should last the rest of this truck’s life that way.