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Old clutch, new clutch, bad clutch

I replaced the clutch in my 2000 Nissan Frontier in late August. My truck is a 4 cylinder, 5 speed, 2 wheel drive, King Cab with 88K miles. I replaced the clutch because I was getting some chatter when pulling my trailer.

I replaced clutch, pressure plate and throwout bearing and had the flywheel turned.

I now have a horrible chatter problem. It chatters much more when hot and gets real grabby when towing.

I pulled the transmission and checked each component and they all look fine.

I’m thinking of replacing the flywheel as an attempt to solve the problem.

I’m hoping the clutch components aren’t defective since it may be difficult to prove that to the auto parts store to get a replacement.


I suspect a quality problem with the clutch parts you bought, did the install go easy (you didn’t bend the clutch disc did you?) what brand parts did you buy?

If you do end up replacing clutch parts upgrade the quality of your parts (perhaps OEM parts)

If you have an oil leak it could cause this.

If oil gets on a clutch plate it will burn to tar, then make the clutch chatter and grab. Replace the clutch and more oil will repeat the problem.

I purchased new parts from NAPA. I bought the standard quality which I have used in other cars with no problems.
When I pulled the parts back out I inspected all components for condition. Nothing bent, warped or otherwised damaged.
That is why I am confused!

When replacing a clutch I always check the rear main seal and transmission input shaft seal for leaks. Both of these were clean and dry.
When I pulled the clutch to try to solve the problem the surface of all parts were clean and dry. I cleaned the surfaces with brake cleaner as an experiment and it made no difference.

Since you’ve found no other reason for the early failure of two clutches, I guess I’d just suppose that your truck is really not up to the task of pulling your trailer. Since you’re trying to pull a trailer using a 4 cylinder engine, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re slipping and overheating what would certainly be a light duty clutch to begin with. Your only hope is to use the heaviest duty clutch you can get, and slip it a lot less. If you still go through clutches you need either a taller rear gear or a stronger truck.

Does this flywheel have a lip around the outer edge where the pressure plate bolts screw in as compared to the surface where the clutch disc rides? If so, was this area also machined?

If so and if not, then this can affect the way the pressure plate operates. This will provide less spring tension and this leads to a slipping clutch disc, followed by a clutch chatter caused by a burned flywheel or glazed clutch disc.

My trailer weighs 2000 lbs so is well within the towing range of this truck.
I have towed the trailer since the truck was new and only started getting chatter last year and that is why I replaced the clutch.
My problem is that since the new clutch I have really bad chatter all the time not just when towing.

Yes, it has a stepped flywheel and yes, both surfaces were machined.

The anti-rust coating on the pressure plate causes chatter. It needs to be cleaned off with brake cleaner or soap and water.

Since both surfaces of the flywheel were machined I’ll go along with Rod Knox about cleaning the pressure plate surfaces.
The same thing applies to new brake rotors; those are often coated with an anti-rust film that should be removed with brake or carburetor cleaner before installation.

I just replaced a pair of brake rotors on my daughter’s car and on one of those rotors the coating was so thick it was very visible to naked eye and could be scraped off in hunks with a razor blade.

You didn’t mention how many times you’d had the flywheel turned over its life. Overthinning can cause overheating and warping under load, which would cause chatter. A less-than-perfect cutting job can also result in lateral runout that could be evident as chatter whether hot or cold.

I didn’t clean the parts before the first install. I have never done that in the past and the parts supplier doesn’t warn about cleaning. I did clean it the second time but it made no difference.
I replaced a clutch in a relatives car the week before (same supplier, same machine shop, no cleaning) and that one is smooth as silk.

First time for turning the flywheel and replacing the clutch on this vehicle.
I used a machine shop I have dealt with for over 20 years and trust. They do have a couple of new employees and I’m wondering if they did a good job on my flywheel or if they damaged it by overheating or overmachining. My next step will be to buy a new flywheel and give that a try.
I’m really tired of the chatter!
I am getting good at removing and installing the transmission so there is a bright side to this?!?!?!?