Premature clutch failure

I have a 2005 Nissan Altima, standard transmission with 36,000 miles. In the space of 5 minutes while driving in the city, the transmission went from working completely normally to not working at all. The dealer found the clutch to be completely “burned up”. Nissan claims that this is was simply wear and tear. Is this possible? I am having a hard time believing this. I am a gentle and experienced stick shifter.

Since neither you or us can see the clutch in question, we will never know what happened. Doing a guesswork postmortem is pointless…I’m sure some will try…

I can at least tell you that if the car was driven “correctly” (ie no clutch burnouts, etc) with 36000 miles it should still be kickin’. I replaced my clutch that was driven fairly hard last March. It had 160000 miles on it.

Although you only have 36000 miles on it the car is 5-6 years old. It’s possible that the pressure plate failed and caused the clutch to burn up. It’s almost impossible to know for sure what happened.

I have the clutch in question.

Are you afraid that if you agree to a “new clutch” that the new parts will be damaged because the real problem was not discovered?

I question why you are at the Dealer.

I took it to the dealer because I figured that there had to be a defect in the transmission and that Nissan might cover it. I still think there is a defect because I know the transmission was functioning completely normally until the last 5 minutes. So yes, I am worried that the problem is not fixed and will recur. My main concern is that I think Nissan should pay for this but not sure how I prove this.

The problem is whether the clutch was abused or failed because of a design or assembly flaw, proving it was one or the other is going to be next to impossible. Add to your problem the fact that many people regard the clutch as a “wearable” item, like brake pads, and you might decide this isn’t a battle worth fighting.

Being a gentle and experienced stick driver doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of bad habits. For example, if you leave your hand resting on the shifter, or you over-rev your engine when you let out the clutch, or you like to downshift in the corners, you could be adding wear without realizing it. Even if you don’t do any of these things, how you prove a negative?

I wish you luck. Unfortunately, if your clutch fails in another 36,000 miles, you might find yourself in the same predicament. As someone who is still driving on his original Civic clutch after 189,000 miles (knock on wood), I would like to think my habits are responsible for the longevity of my clutch, but the reason is just as likely to be good design. I just don’t know, and I never will.