Subaru clutch varies its grab point

I have a 2000 Forester. The clutch’s grab point varies in warmer weather. Any idea how this could be or what to do?

During winter, things work as expeted: the clutch pedal returns fully and the grab point is after about, say, 3" of pedal depression. In the spring or summer, the grab point sinks downward. At its worst, the grab point is only about 3" off the floor. The pedal doesn’t return fully at this point, either, so it just sits about 4" off the floor.

What’s strange is it’s not necessarily temperature-related. Maybe humidity? I can’t tell, but I’ve had 95-degree days where the pedal is fine and 70-degree days where the grab point is near the floor.

The clutch works fine during all of this, by the way, it’s just the grab point varies. Both I and a local garage have tried changing/flushing the fluid from the hydraulic clutch, with no help.

This sounds like a bad clutch master cylinder. The flushing was a useful attempt but I would guess the cups in the master cylinder are intermittantly bypassing fluid and getting stuck in the bore.

Let us know what your mechanic finds.

I have a 1997 Outback that is a manual, and I would swear that the engage point differs even after I had a new clutch put in a few months back. From what I understand, Subaru isn’t known for their clutches. Since this car has become my “everyday car” I have finally gotten a bit use to it but it is the most unforgiving manual shift car I have ever driven. I was a passenger in a brand new Mazda3 and I was so envious of the smooth shifting manual I nearly made the mistake of giving up my paid-for Subaru and burdening myself with a car payment.

The master or slave cylinder could be sticking or passing fluid internally past the piston seal.

In April, I had my clutch, pressure plate, and throw-out bearing replaced, as well as the fly wheel resurfaced. When I drove the car, I had (and am continuing to have) problems getting out of first gear. On a hill, it will drag if the clutch doesn’t catch. To the point of stalling. The mechanic who did the clutch insisted it never happened to him and that maybe the fly wheel was warped but he couldn’t start taking things apart if it wasn’t a problem for him.
I went to another mechanic, who thought it might be happening because of the problems with my engine (check engine demon)…after all that work was completed, the clutch was, and is, still dragging. I’m up to 3 grand on this pig (Oh, did I mention the head gasket also went in April?). I hate this car, I would never get a Subaru again, and I need help because I cannot afford many more repairs. By the by, this is the second clutch and second head gasket. See why I hate my car?

More than likely the problem is with the hydraulic clutch master cylinder. This is the only component in the clutch system that can leak internally depending on the temperature. If a slave cylinder developes a leak, it will leave an indication that’s it’s leaking. But an internally leaking clutch master cylinder doesn’t.

Replace the clutch master cylinder, bleed the hydraulic system, and you’ll have a more predictable/reliable clutch pedal. Or burn up the clutch?


I was on my way back to the garage today, to talk to the mechanic about my clutch master cylinder. I was at a light. When I took off, my check engine light came back on. Within the last 2 weeks, I’ve had the knock sensor replaced, the spark plugs on cylinders 2&4 replaced, and a new ignition coil assembly. At first, the mechanic felt that maybe this was why I was having trouble shifting from first to second. He started with the spark plugs and worked from there. Alas, my light still comes on and my clutch is still messed up. Yup, this is the worst car I’ve ever owned. Naturally, I have to bring it back in so they can have another look.
By the time this is over, I’ll have dumped over 3 grand in the car this year alone, not counting new tires. I hate this car.