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Shaking in 1st gear (2006 Mini Cooper with stick)

Hello all,
We have a 2006 Mini Cooper Cabrio with 55K miles. The car is a lot of fun, but lately I’ve run into a problem: when starting movement and engaging first gear, as I release the clutch and engage the engine - the car/engine shakes briefly. Sometimes just a little bit, sometimes quite severely, but always noticeable and resonating through the car. This happens when you apply very little gas (less noticeably) and when you give considerably more gas (shakes a lot more and when it engages - gives an abrupt kick).

This also happens in the second gear, but not to the same degree. Today this happened every time i’ve shifted into first or second and i’m getting worried that we are in for some expensive repair on a fairly low mileage car.

Has anyone experienced something similar or exactly the same problem?

I’m not new to manual transmission and have learned to drive on a car with a stick. I’ve been behind the wheel for 20 years with driving manual on and off for at least half the time.

My understanding is that Mini clutches are not terribly long-lived. But make sure that the hydraulic fluid is full, and that no leaks occur.

Once you’re moving in 1st gear (past the shudder) if you floor iti does it act normally, or is there any slipping?

Clutches can fail in three ways that I’m aware of.
1.They can fail to disengage so that shifting into 1st is difficult if not impossible unless you shut the engine off.
2.They can slip, which is usually most noticable, at first, in higher gears. Eventually a clutch worn out in this manner may fail to pull the car at all.
3. The anti chatter (sideways mounted) springs in the clutch plate can fail. I think the latter is the situation that you are experiencing.

texases - once the clutch is fully release and i’m moving - i can give as much gas as i want and there is nothing abnormal happening. The shaking only happens when releasing clutch in the first (at the end, when I’m about to remove the foot) and in the second.

Sometimes that shuddering ends with a rough “catch” when the car jerks forward and the engine/tranny are fully engaged and everything is well.

From what I know about a slipping clutch - this is not it. As i understand, when clutch is slipping - the RPMs jump, but the acceleration is low (if any at all). This is different. it feels like the friction plates are trying to grab, but don’t do it smoothly.

I will check on the fluid, good idea.

MG McAnick

It could be the #3, but i wouldn’t say that the car is “chattering” as much as vibrating (sound vs feel?)

We had the same exact problem in our 2005 Cooper. Same exact issues to the T. Please pardon my severe lack of mechanical knowledge, but I do know it was some kind of a leak or broken seal that was leaking fluid out onto the clutch pad. It was replaced for us while the car was under warranty.

Unfortunately, my experience with our 2005 Cooper’s clutch/transmission system was not a good one. We went through three clutches in 80K miles and finally an entirely new transmission before I gave up on the car and traded it in this summer. :frowning:

Oh… that’s not very encouraging.

I also think that the clutch plates were slipping on the flywheel and that is where the kick came from (slip-slip-grab). I will probably have to take it in to a local mechanic, but finding someone i can feel good about won’t be easy.

It’s that slip-slip-grab that those sideways springs in the clutch plate are designed to dampen. In any case, I think you need a new clutch assembly.

Ok, i will talk to a mechanic and ask him about it.

I’m having the same problem with my 2002 subaru. The car shakes when shifting to first or second gear after releasing the clutch. The gas mileage is awful. When I had the car taken in for repair about a year ago, there was no shaking or vibration. Everything was smooth as silk, and the gas mileage was great. My car will shake rapidly if I’m in first gear and am releasing the clutch just enough to move the car forward without actually using the gas pedal. Like I said, when the car was repaired, the shaking was gone, but the day a family member got in and rode the clutch, shifting has been bumpy since.

Some clutch “chatter” can be expected every now and again, such as starting on hills. If this is new and different then something is affecting the workings of the clutch. Motorcycles use a “wet” clutch (it is bathed in oil) but cars use a “dry” clutch. The clutch plate material is similar to brake pad materials and both don’t do well when polluted with oil.

I suspect something is leaking fluid on your clutch plate. Have you checked the level of fluid in the master clutch cylinder? If it is “low” your slave cylinder could be leaking and allowing fluid to get on the clutch. A seal in the motor could also leak motor oil into the clutch.

A clutch that gets a good dose of polluting fluid can get the shakes real bad. Other possibles is the clutch overheated and the clutch plate is warped, the pressure plate is warped, or the flywheel surface is getting gouges in it due to a worn out clutch plate.

I’d suggest getting this diagnosed and repaired, you don’t want to push this and end up with a damaged flywheel.