Subaru clutches


I have a 2004 Subaru Imprezza WRX (or RXW as it says on the back–is that the Japanese order or did somebody screw up the order putting them on?). I had to have a new clutch at 30,300 miles, and the dealer from which I bought it tried to tell me it was because I didn’t know how to use a clutch/stick. I was 59 at the time and had been driving sticks since 18, including some real cheap pieces of @@@@ (e.g., '70 VW Bug, '80 Dodge Omni, ancient Ford Fairlaine) and had NEVER had any trouble with having to replace clutches–if anything, they last forever relative to the expectations based on the quality of the car. So that didn’t fly, and they replaced the entire thing–flywheel, clutch plates, etc., for free under the warranty.

Now 24,000 mi and almost exactly two years later, the clutch plates have gone again, leaving me stranded on Route 84 west of Hartford. Two months ago I had smelled something after long highway trips that smelled like clutch or brakes burning, and I reported it to my local dealer, who supposedly looked at it, drove it, and couldn’t find anything wrong. Right!!!

Question: Anybody know of any reports of frequent and/or premature clutch failure in WRX’s? Since the car is used frequently for rally competition, I can’t imagine they’d put a crappy clutch in it. But this is ridiculous. Two clutches in 54,000 mi?

Of course, this time it’s just the clutch plates, which are a “wear item” and so not covered under any warranty. Of course, they didn’t charge me for them last time at 30,000 mi. So I don’t know what’s up with that.

Anybody got any relevant experience and/or info? Thanks in advance.


There’s rumors that the clutches in these vehicles were designed a little undersized for the application. Hence the short clutch life.



I own a 2004 WRX on original clutch and no signs of wear at 50k. The clutches in WRX’s are not known for short life unless used hard which is true of any car. Do you drive many city miles (stop n go) or otherwise?

It may be a faulty install. ALso on the first clutch were you the original owner or 2nd owner. The first owner could demolish the clutch in short order due to inexperience.


why do you think the cars used in rally competitions are fitted with a stock clutch assembly? not.

as to why they warrantied your first clutch i can only guess that the dealer BSed their way through a factory/extended warranty or the dealer covered it for some reason.
knowing all of the details behind the claim might help.


I was the first owner. And my driving is certainly less “stop-and-go” than that of most people who live in a city of any size–I live in a town of 40,000, take a lot of trips of 500 and 900 miles round-trip, and even a lot of my driving “around town” is on a couple of by-passes. Makes no sense to me.


I have a Legacy Outback and had to do the same thing- a replacement at 5 years of age, around 30, 000 miles and now am told I have to do this again but he mechanic recommended getting rid of the car because its ten years old.
(The replacement was a new clutch.) I have had manual transmissions for nearly 3 decades so I’m not a new manual transmission driver.


I really LIKE Subarus, but their clutches have long been a weak point. As for the WRX, revving them high and letting the clutch out for quick acceleration is not unheard of. (Not that you’d EVER do that.) Lots of revs are needed to get all 227 HP to all of those wheels simultaneously. Two clutches in 54K miles is a bit hard to take, but not unheard of. IMHO, an automatic in a WRX would be a travesty.


There is a problem with Subaru clutches that exist and odds are you probably won’t find a dealer or tech there that may even be aware of the glitch. It involves the throw out bearing guide sleeve and the snout of the transmission case, which is aluminum.

Will see if I can find a pic of the guide sleeve and possibly 'splain how this can happen. It does not happen with every Subaru but is not that rare either.


If you find teh information and can attach a file, that would be fantastic. I’m taking my car in next week.


I cannot find a pic of the throw out bearing guide sleeve but maybe this pic will help clarify what I’m talking about.
Look at the end view front of the transaxle. Note the small mainshaft sticking out the front. Note the mainshaft is surrounded by part of the transaxle case (the mainshaft snout I referenced).

What I’ve run into several times is this and while I have not found it to be the case on every Subaru clutch I’ve done I have seen it several times so that means it could be a cause for concern.

The snout is aluminum which is a soft metal. The guide sleeve (which the throw out bearing is mounted on) is steel, a very hard metal (cast iron actually. On the inside of the guide sleeve there is a 1/4" wide machined groove. This groove is packed with grease and provides lubricant as the guide sleeve moves on the aluminum snout.

The problem is that the grease groove, much like the inside of Subaru transaxle cases and engine blocks, has extremely sharp edges. Sharp enough that if one applies a finger a bit firmly the blood will start flowing.
What happens is that these sharp edges will wear a ridge into the snout or cause a nick/burr which will then allow the guide sleeve to hang up on the snout. In effect, this can cause something similar to driving around with your foot on the clutch pedal all of the time and thereby causing a partial clutch disengagement, which then leads to shorter clutch life of course.

Every time I’ve done a clutch job on a Subaru I’ve always taken the guide sleeve and beveled those sharp edges off. It only takes a few minutes and provides peace of mind. I’ve seen a couple that would hang up so badly they could not be forciby moved by hand even with the transaxle out and on the bench.

Hope I explained this clearly enough and don’t be surprised if whomever you talk to knows nothing about this. This does not mean they’re stupid; only that is a weird, obscure problem. Hope this helps you out. :slight_smile: