Forester Clutch Problem

Last night I was driving my girlfriends car (learning to drive stick) and I think I screwed it up.

I was going uphill and I think I gave it too much going out of first gear. Something felt like it popped, then started rattling and smoke started coming from the hood. The car can move into gear when the car is turned off but has a grinding sound when you try to move it into gear when the car is on.

The car is a 2013 Subaru Forester and the clutch was replaced this past summer

Any thoughts or direction would be greatly appreciated!

Hunch: something in the clutch has broken and the smoke is overheated friction material inside the clutch.


Without moving the car, let it sit at idle until it warms up. See if you see smoke again. Also, press the clutch and see if you see smoke or hear bad noises.
Was your girlfriend in the car to monitor your driving lesson? She should have monitored your actions. Also, you might not have done anything wrong.

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Warranty on clutch job? 90days?
Telling shop rookie was practicing?
Well, you should run it by shop. For effort, anyways.

I wonder if the clutch master or slave cylinder could have gone out not releasing the clutch?

To start with was she or someone else who knows how to drive a stick shift in the car with you if not then you screwed up maybe something simple to fix or maybe something expensive. For the record I own and have owned many stick shifts over the years and have taught people how to drive with a stick but would never let someone who is learning to go out by themself.


If the problem was just that it was difficult to engage the gears with the engine running, pretty good chance of a clutch master cylinder problem. The problem is that’s not usually consistent with a grinding sound. Try this: Are you able to get it into gear w/engine running with no grinding sounds if you first pump the clutch pedal a couple of times? If so, that may be good news, just a clutch MC decided to call it the ghost at an inopportune time (when you were driving … lol).

If you were gunning the engine while shifting from first to second and didn’t press the clutch pedal in all the way, or at the wrong time w/respect to the gear shift, that could have damaged the clutch disc or pressure plate, even the release or pilot bearing. Unfortunately that scenario is more consistent w/your symptoms. If so the transmission is going to have to come out for a look-see.

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Assuming the clutch hydraulics are good I tend to wonder if the clutch job was done properly considering the pop and rattling.

One potential trouble area is whether or not the clutch job involved a repair sleeve for the transmission snout. This should always be done with a Subaru clutch. Some clutch kits come with this sleeve; most do not.

Other areas could be a warped/burned flywheel, bad pilot bearing, disc installed backwards (don’t laugh), pressure plate bolts left a bit loose, etc.
If the hydraulics appear to be good then the trans needs to come out for an inspection.
Might look the receipt over carefully (if available) and see if that repair sleeve was included. Lack of can ruin a clutch.

We can only guess, and it would be fun to see which of us is closest but it is rare that the original poster ever comes back to let us know. From your description, I’m guessing a broken flywheel bolt.

If you can put it into gear with the engine off and then try to start it with the clutch pushed all the way to the floor and e-brake off and the car starts to move, then something is jammed between the clutch and either the pressure plate of flywheel, or the linkage between the slave cylinder and the throwout bearing is broken.

The only way to find out for sure is to remove the transmission and clutch assembly.

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