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Incredible clutch problems Mazda 6 (2008) Please help!

My daughter’s nine-month-old Mazda 6 has had two complete clutch failures. The first was at 3300 miles (!) and Mazda replaced the clutch under the vehicle warranty. The second time was two days ago at only 7200 miles!!! It has always been hard to shift into reverse, and the dealership had said there wasn’t anything wrong. This time they won’t cover the replacement clutch and it is going to cost over $2100 to fix. They say there is nothing wrong to cause the clutch to fail. The 3900 miles that this second clutch lasted included about 1500 miles of cruise-control freeway miles on a cross-country move. What could be causing two brand-new clutches to fail so incredibly quickly and how can we get Mazda to do the right thing and cover the repair?

 I would be interesting to see exactly what they replaced and what condition it was in.  What have they said was the cause of the failure.  I find it hard to believe that they would just say there is nothing worn without at least trying to come up with an excuse that somehow your daughter damaged it.

Keep in mind that a determined driver can destroy a clutch in 3900 miles, but they would have to try.

I’m going to assume your daughter knows how to drive a vehicle with a standard transmission.

I suggest someone read the conditions of the warranty VERY CAREFULLY.

It’s hard to believe Mazda won’t honor their drive train warranty at only 7200 miles. Something is horribly wrong.

How many Mazda dealers are involved in this? I suggest your daughter, or you, contact a lawyer. The warranty should cover this, regardless of where she lives or which dealer is involved.

I also suggest there may be a fatal flaw in this particular car, and maybe your daughter should think about getting rid of it AFTER the clutch is replaced.

Hard to tell right now.

you drive the car the next 3600 miles ,give her the auto and see what happens.

I highly doubt its a car issue. other than improper pedal freeplay.

pretty much saying your daughter can not drive stick. WAG!

lived this senerio too many times over the years.

reverse is a NON SYNCRO GEAR,so binding will and does occur.THAT IS NORMAL.

Even with someone who can’t drive it well, I’d be really surprised if someone could wreck a clutch on a car this new that fast - esp. if 1500 of those miles were highway.

The only thing I could think of would be some constant but also very precise clutch riding. Ask your daughter if she tends to drive around with her foot on the clutch pedal. If she does tell her to stop.

But, no, I think there’s more to it than clutch competence.

I will say though, that if you do get stuck with the repair, $2100 for a new clutch is absolutely insane. Frankly that quote alone would be enough to send me to a different dealer for another look, and if you do get stuck with the repair find a good independent instead.

It also might help if you described “clutch failure” - what exactly is the car doing?

freeplay too tight is the same as riding the clutch.

its a pedal not a foot rest.

The first time the clutch failed, the car was at a stop sign and wouldn’t shift out of neutral. It let the gearstick go into first, but the car didn’t move. The second time, the car was being driven and was being shifted from 2nd to 3rd gear. The clutch pedal only came halfway back up and it wouldn’t get into third, and wouldn’t get into any of the gears after that and was coasted to the side of the road. The clutch pedal was reluctant to return to full up position on the shift from 1st to 2nd right before this happened. There was no prior warning either time the clutch has failed, no slippage, no clattering, etc.

So that sounds to me like only certain parts of the clutch system that have failed - “the clutch” isn’t a single thing, but a whole bunch of interconnected things. In general, a failed clutch will refer to a worn out clutch disk which doesn’t produce enough grip to hold the engine & transmission together. And they rarely if ever just suddenly fail, but do slip first. There are other things that fail though and can fail suddenly.

What exactly was replaced the first time, and what do they say needs to be replaced this time? It now sounds even more to me like a Mazda problem.

The first time they replaced the clutch, the clutch disk, the flywheel, and some linkage and some small parts.
This time they say that basically the same things need to be replaced.
The paperwork is in the car, we’re going to go get it out of the car in the morning (it’s at the dealer’s, which is not the dealer it was purchased from). The dealership it was purchased from is in a different state and has gone out of business. The original dealership is who replaced the clutch the first time.

Something about the whole mess just isn’t right. I would figure out how to get an independent mechanic to take a look at the car even if it means getting a tow out of the dealer. I would also make sure to write everything down - every event, conversation, and claim by the dealer. I would also ask the dealer to explain exactly what parts of the clutch system were and are a problem, and ask how it is that it isn’t a problem of materials and workmanship on the part of Mazda - i.e. how those problems with the clutch could be created by the driver.

“Even with someone who can’t drive it well, I’d be really surprised if someone could wreck a clutch on a car this new that fast - esp. if 1500 of those miles were highway.”

I know of a young woman who destroyed the clutch on her brand-new car over the course of the first weekend that she owned it. The clutch was burned out within less than 350 miles, and although the dealership did repair it under warranty, she immediately traded it in on the automatic transmission model that she should have bought in the first place.

And, yes, she lost over $2,000 in the process. Trust me–someone who has not learned how to properly use a clutch can wreck one in a lot less than 1500 miles.

I agree with VDCdriver. I’ve seen inexperienced drivers destroy new clutches quite quickly.

As for the $2100, that could be a very reasonable price if you have a dual mass flywheel. The Mazda 6 diesel European versions have dual mass flywheels (and there are some net discussions about the clutches in them being frail). I don’t know about the gas engine versions.

I’m not saying your daughter is at fault. Unfortunately anyone from Mazda is going to factor that into their decision on how to handle this case.

The two failures had opposite symptoms, but may have been the same mechanical component(s) failing.

The first time, the clutch failed to engage. Either the facing completely disintegrated to crumbs, or something prevented the pressure plate from pressing on the facing. If there was really no warning (such as odor of burning clutch or slipping) then that was a mechanical failure in the actuation mechanism that caused it to hang up. I don’t know if your flywheel is dual mass, or if failure of a dual mass flywheel could cause it to fail to engage at all, but that would make a lot of noise. Bottom line - if there was no warning of this failure, then it is nearly certain that the driver did not cause it.

We can’t glean too much information from the list of parts replaced, once they were in there and someone’s checkbook was open (in that case, the manufacturer’s) they were going to replace everything in sight to help assure that there would not be a comeback. If you really needed a new flywheel, then the complete disintegration of the clutch facing sounds likely.

The second time, the clutch failure to disengage. That could be caused by a failure of the actuation system (which I presume is hydraulic) - master or slave cylinder or the throwout bearing. The theory that your daughter might be riding the clutch would explain a throwout bearing failure, but not the first failure. Based on the previous failure, I would suspect a piece of clutch facing breaking off and getting stuck between the facing and pressure plate.

Smell of burning clutch is very persistent. If your daughter had trashed two clutch facings in that short a time, that car would stink of burnt clutch for weeks afterward. Based on the evidence provided, I just cannot believe that she caused this problem.

Oops - rereading this, my first paragraph was a bit convoluted and appears to contradict later text. I did not mean to say that a facing cannot disintegrate without warning, though that is very unusual.