Part "fell off" after clutch replacement - 2004 Toyota Matrix, manual transmission, 98k

Help! My Ex-To-Be “gave” our daughter his 2004 Toyota Matrix, manual transmission, 98k miles. She just drove it home to Pittsburgh, PA from Houston when the clutch went out.

Ex-To-Be is now nowhere to be found either with sage fatherly advice or assistance. I (mom) am 600 miles away in Chicago. Daughter took the car to a coworker-recommended mechanic who replaced the clutch for $1,100. Four days later (yesterday), she was 12 miles up a busy interstate when she heard a “clunk” and thought something fell off the car. She pulled over and called for a tow, but she could not see or retrieve what fell off. Today, the car is 15 miles from the mechanic who did the original work but near a Toyota dealer. She may not have more free tows and is on a tight budget.

Questions: 1) We do no know what’s involved in replacing a clutch on this car…What part might have fallen off if the shop didn’t do their job or the follow-up correctly? 2) How should she approach the original shop to make right whatever they screwed up – or should she run screaming and go to the Toyota dealer? For budget reasons – and a learning experience – daughter must be judicious in deciding what to do next. Any advice will be much appreciated. Thank you!

You are assuming the “part” that fell off the car is due to the clutch job. That might be true, but it also very possible that the unidentified missing part could just have fallen off of a 10 year old car with 100K miles. After the “clunk” did the car stop running, did the clutch stop working, what? Where was the car towed, and what did whoever looked at the car have to say about it?

Whatever fell off could be a part of the exhaust system. I lost the heat shield off an '03 Honda Civic a year or so ago. It made a noise when it hit the road and I stopped found it and drove on. If the car is driving OK, get it checked out to make sure there are no issues.

With respect, the car is 9 years old of unknown (by us) history. There are quite a few things unrelated to the clutch replacement that could have broken. Without a lot more detail, such as how the clutch pedal felt after the clunk and whether the engine continued to run properly or stalled, it’s impossible to vene make a wild guess. Find out what broke before assuming that the shop that replaced the clutch might have erred. Conclusions shoudl be based on diagnosis, not the other way around.

I think it’s important to appreciate the fact that your soon-to-be ex gave her a free car, albiet used, and not let your feelings toward him affect that. Eight years ago I gave both my kids old used cars to help them out. When ultimately my son’s water pump burst, my ex made nasty comments about what a b****** I was to give them “junk”, but, fortunately, my kids knew better.

She should NOT go to a dealer. Dealers often charge two or more times what an independant would charge. They’re often required to get the parats throught the manufacturer’s distribution system, and aftermarket parts would usually be just as good and far cheaper. She should develop a relationship with a reputable independant. I’d suggest bringing the car back to the shop that did theclutch. That way, if the shop did make a miistake, they’ll porbably repair it for free.

Let us know how she makes out. We do care.

+1 for @Uncle Turbo and @thesamemountainbike. The “clunk” could have been a forgotten wrench or socket from the repair job. If the vehicle didn’t quit running…your daughter should have continued driving the vehicle to have it checked out.

Matrixes are known for weak clutches, especially if its an xrs. If the car drives ok it may have been a tool, or a heat shield. Go back to the ORIGINAL Mechanic. I wish someone would give me a car like that, even if 1100 into its cheap transportation. Thats a nice car.

Im not trying to sound like a jerk but does your daughter need lessons driving stick? As far as being on a tight budget, suggest she stop smoking or drinking, drop the smart phone, there are many ways to save money. After all Starbucks is not a necessity. If she doesnt do any of that stuff, maybe she cannot afford a car right now and she should sell it.

I have a friend that bought his daughter a 97 accord with 64k original miles, she had it for 4 months before totaling it, the car went from totally pristine to smoked up and smashed up in 4 months. His ex blamed him. She had money to smoke and drink but no money for car insurance.

I doubt anything fell off the car. There just isn’t much of anything that could fall off as a result of a new clutch job, except perhaps that plastic windscreen thingy, maybe the mechanic forgot to tighten the bolts on that. And that falling off wouldn’t cause any driveablity problems in any event, at least not immediately.

So think positive. It could just be something in the clutch linkage that is amiss. The release arm linkage coming undone could cause a “thunk” sound I expect, and then it would be near-impossible to shift. So maybe nothing at all fell off, just that the linkage needs a redo, a little tune-up. In an ideal world, that wouldn’t happen as part of a new clutch job, but, alas, we do not live in an ideal world. Ask a mechanic to double check that the clutch linkage is all working.

Actually, George, there is one thing…that torque wrench that the mechanic has just discovered missing.

Yeah, it could be that missing torque wrench! Good one TSM! … lol …

It could also be that nothing fell off of the car and the clunk sound was a rock or other piece of debris that bounced up and hit the undercarriage after being struck by one of the tire.

The unknown here is whether the car appeared to still be operating as normal when the tow truck was called and whether or not the tow was a precautionary move.