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Jerky clutch release

i have a 1990 BMW 325is that i love. i don’t think i have enjoyed driving a car more but there are some kinks to work out. The first one i want to deal with is this clutch pedal problem. When releasing the clutch pedal after shifting into gear it sort of “catches” before it is fully released. this makes for some pretty jerky driving until you get used to how to deal with it but more importantly i am worried about what the actualy problem is and how to fix it. I have been told that it probably is the throw out bearing which is not what i wanted to hear so i did a little of my own research and i have found that it might in fact be a problem with the clutch master or slave cylinder which is a much better diagnosis for me. anyway, has anyone had this experience or can anyone tell me something to help me further diagnos it before i replace the cylinders needlessly and then have to take it to get a whole clutch because it was in fact the T/O bearing.

thanks in advance

It could also be a glitch in the mechanical linkage between the pedal lever and the rod that pushes on the piston on the master cylinder. This you should be able to check quite easily, assuming you can pretzel yourself in under the dash. You should be able to actually feel the “catch” as a sharp pulse to the lever.

You may be able to do the same with the master and slave cylinders. If you can lightly touch them while someone activates the clutch pedal, you may feel the “catch” on the defective one.

I know of no simple way to check the release bearing. Or the associated portions of the pressure plate assembly, which is another possible source.

The only suggestion I can make is that if you do end up opening it up you replace the entire clutch assembly including the pressure plate assembly and the release bearing. It isn’t worth doing all that work and not doing the whole job.

no, this is exactly what i was looking for, thanks. if i can just test that simple stuff to either find the problem and fix it or at least rule them out then that is extremely helpful. and yeah that is the thing, if it is the bearing i am of course just going to do the whole clutch job while it is out and that aint cheap…thanks again

Does the clutch “judder” or shudder" when you are releasing it? Or does it just “snatch” and engage at some point? Also, does it ever “drag”, meaning that when it’s released, you can’t just slip the transmission into gear, especially reverse…

no shudder, just the snatch. i’m confused on your second question, do you mean that i can slip it into gear without the clutch? sorry, just not getting that one

I have never personally experienced this, but Tom & Ray mentioned it one time on the show once. One of the possibilities they suggested to someone with a similar problem was an oil seal leak that was leaking oil onto the clutch which, they said, somewhat counter intuitively causes the clutch to be extra grabby. You can crawl under the car and see if there’s a little drip of oil where the engine connects to the transmission-- if so, this could be the case.