Worn clutch after 12,000 miles not covered by warranty - advice?

I have a 2007 Honda Fit with only 12,700 miles and the clutch has been slipping since at least 5,000 miles. (I love the car except for this problem.) The dealer has finally been able to reproduce the problem and acknowledges the clutch needs replacing, to the tune of $1,700. I have more than 25 years of experience driving manual transmissions and have driven two Fords on one clutch for more than 150,000 miles each, so I am fairly certain that my driving habits did not cause the wear. Obviously, I believe Honda should pay; I’ve never heard of a clutch wearing out after so few miles.

The dealer told me that the clutch is a “wearable item” with just a 1 year warranty and there’s nothing they can do for me. So I appealed to customer service at Honda of America. The case manager says that I’m past the 3-year 30,000 mile warranty, but that they are checking with the dealer to determine the “cause of the wear.” Is it really possible to tell from wear patterns whether the wear is from driver behavior or poor quality manufacturing? Regardless, does anyone think I have a chance of getting Honda to pay for the clutch replacement? If so, how?

A four (five?) year old car with 12,700 miles on the odometer suggests mostly in-town driving. On a vehicle that old, there’s no way you can get Honda to pay for a clutch. If in the process they discover a clear manufacturing defect they might be willing to prorate the cost, but even that would be a “gift”.

Consider also that you’ve been driving it for the last 7,000+ miles knowing full well that it was slipping. Perhaps you should have brought it back at 5,000 miles when it originally began doing so.

Sorry, but IMHO you’re being unrealistic in expecting them to pay for it. If it had begun misfiring at 5,000 and you kept driving it for another 7,000 miles until the misfiring caused further damage, would yau blame honda for the futher damage?

Are there some other factors, other than your driving skills, that might come into play here? Lots of hills? etc. 12K miles isn’t good at all.

On the mechanicial side, perhaps the springs on the pressure plate are not strong enough and allowing the clutch to slip, any slipping will cause wear at a much faster than normal rate. This is why driving with your foot “resting” on the clutch is such a bad habit, it reduces the pressure holding the clutch plate against the flywheel. Poor spring tension is a bad design, or manufacturer’s defect IMO. Did you ever report any clutch problems in visits to the dealer before the warranty expired? If yes, you have a good case for Honda to honor the warranty. If no, you are at the whim of Honda’s goodwill policy.

Check with some Honda Fit forums to see if Fits with manual transmissions are experiencing early clutch failures. While few manual Fits are sold in the US, worldwide they sell a lot of Fit’s with manual transmissions. My daughter just bought one in fact, so I hope they have better results than you experienced.

The dealer is correct about a clutch being a wear item and not covered by warranty. It would normally only be covered if there were something happened that was out of the driver’s control; broken pressure plate finger or spring, clutch lining shattered, etc. Even then it would have to be inside the warranty period. Anything outside of that would be a Good Will warranty and is purely discretionary.

It sounds like your driving habits changed. You state that you drove 2 Fords with manuals for more than 150k miles each but in this case you have a 5 year old Honda with only 12K miles.
So, does this mean your automotive lifestyle changed?

Don’t get upset if you don’t catch a break on this problem. Honda has no way of knowing if the driver of a car is rough on a clutch or not because not one driver will ever admit to being rough on the clutch or they may not think they are.
Some on this forum may remember the lady who posted here a few years ago about knocking the clutch out of her 2 day old brand new VW New Beetle when she was teaching her daughter how to drive a manual.

Consider also that you’ve been driving it for the last 7,000+ miles knowing full well that it was slipping. Perhaps you should have brought it back at 5,000 miles when it originally began doing so.

Mountainbike called it right here. You knew it was slipping and drove around on it for 7 thousand miles, and you want them to pay for it? Sorry, no. I wouldn’t cover that either, and I’m pretty liberal about what I think should and shouldn’t be covered.

I have to agree with shadowfax on this one. Mountainbike did get it right. Why would someone drive an additional 7000 miles on a vehicle that had a slipping clutch at 5000 miles?

On the point of the OP continuing to drive, I took this statement: “The dealer has finally been able to reproduce the problem” to imply that the vehicle had been in for the problem & I assume more than once. If that’s the case, I’m not sure what the OP should have done other than continue to inquire at the dealer about the issue.

In the end though, it probably won’t change the story - that clutches are wear & tear items not covered by warranty. I know that I’d probably keep after Honda about it since the whole thing is pretty weird.

Well if you are right Cigroller, and the OP did file complaints with the dealer prior to this then I think he can make a case that it has been an issue since 5K and the dealer just could not find an issue. SOMEONE should be on the line to help the OP out as we all know that 12k on a clutch should be nothing.

Perhaps GoldenFlower will come back and tell us…or perhaps we’ll have yet another absentee OP. (If you do come back GoldenFlower, take no offense. People show up & post & then disappear never to be heard from again all of the time).

Contact Honda customer care. They may cover a portion of all the repair. Hopefully your slipping 5k miles ago was mentioned/documented at the dealer. It would give a great leg to stand on.

Subaru(wife has one) for example covers wear items for 3yrs/36,000 miles. I cannot believe Honda would not cover this even in the normal 1yr/12k warranty.

Clutches can slip for reasons other than they are worn out…Oil may be leaking onto the clutch disc. A transmission seal can allow oil to travel directly onto the clutch disc while showing little or no visible signs of leakage…But a 2007 model, 5 years old, no chance of a warranty fix…

Why is this even a question? It’s out of warranty. Was it still in warranty when it started slipping?

No soup for you.

Yes, the clutch slipped occasionally even during the first year of ownership, but it was relatively infrequent so I did not report it (stupid). I wasn’t sure it was the clutch at that time because it seemed strange that it would only do it in high gear; it wasn’t the classic chattering/shuddering type of clutch slippage when starting in low gear. When it started happening more frequently, I asked the dealer to check it out after about 3 years and 9000 miles; they could not reproduce it but I have the paperwork documenting that. The classic situation was that I’d be in 4th or 5th gear accelerating from an on-ramp onto the highway or on a slight incline already on the highway. The engine would rev, tac would go above 3000 rpm for a brief period, then slip back. The clutch is now slipping occasionally in 3rd gear but never in first or second.

It’s true that most of these miles are city miles, not highway. Not an unusual amount of driving on hills. I do NOT drive with my foot resting on the clutch. I’m intrigued by Caddyman’s note that clutches can slip for reasons other than wear. (I’ll look around the site more for how clutches work and how they can fail.) Now that I think of it, I’m not sure the dealer said that clutch was worn-- just that it needed replacing. Honda Customer Care and the dealer are now exchanging information. I appreciate the reality check from everyone, but if they don’t pay for this, I probably will not buy another Honda which is too bad.

Interesting, I found the following post on a Honda Fit Forum. I’m contacting the person.

Clutch Problems past or present?

I have an 08 Fit with around 48K miles on it. It has a five speed and the clutch is dead. Honda won’t fix it and says it’s my fault, even though I bought the car new, and I’ve been driving manuals for as long as I’ve been driving. I know how to drive, and I know it wasn’t my fault. Still I’m going to be out over $1000 to get the thing replaced. My 96 civic got well over 150K miles before I replaced the clutch.

I don’t believe that a defective clutch is excluded from the warranty coverage. Sure, regular wear is excluded, but a clutch going out at less than 50K miles is not regular wear.

Google lead me to this forum, where I am seeing the same story a disturbing number of times. Early Clutch wear, experienced driver, honda refuses to cover the repairs, ect. To me this shows that the clutch is defective, and that Honda probably knows it is defective, but it doesn’t want to pay for a recall.

Right now I’m weighing my legal options to determine what steps to take against Honda. To that end I’d like to see whether there is a critical mass of similarly situated Honda Customers so as to make a class action lawsuit viable.

If you or someone you know has now or has in the past had a problem with early clutch wear on the first generation Honda Fit (it seems to to be a problem on the 09 and later models) please contact me at HondaFitClutchProblem@gmail.com

The problem sounds like a weak pressure plate from day one, not a worn clutch disk. This problem SHOULD have definitely been addressed when first noticed. A brand new car should not have a clutch that slips at all. Now, it is water under the bridge. The pressure plate is also considered a wear item, and it would be hard to show a bad pressure plate now since the slipping has probably worn the clutch prematurely, making any early defect unable to prove or show. It can easily look like a hard-ridden clutch after all this time and slippage.

I hope Honda comes back with a decent offer for repairs. It does sound like Honda has a problem with the clutches in these Fits. But, all car makers will generally only put in for a recall if the problem is safety related. For a prematurely wearing clutch, they will generally handle it with their standard warranty coverage for that item. With the reports of all the prematurely wearing clutches, it would be luck of the draw if they decide extend the warranty or offer a partial coverage deal. Good Luck.

I believe that virtually ALL manufacturers exclude the clutch and brakes from warranty coverage no matter what…They will not recognize the term “defective” for these parts…They CERTAINLY will not consider it on a 5 year old car…An independent Honda shop will replace your clutch for around half of what the dealer quoted you…I would insist on “upgraded” parts…The suspect part here is the “cover” or “pressure-plate”…

When the new clutch is installed, ask to see the old clutch disc…If the rivets that hold the friction material on are not exposed, then the clutch is not “worn out” and SOMETHING ELSE is causing the problem…

The warranty was up several years ago so if any gift from Honda appears the OP should be greatful.

A point for consideration. The OP states they have driven manuals for many years, they know how to drive one without abuse, etc, etc. Everyone with a clutch problem says the same thing.

The OP states they drove their Fords for 150k miles each with no problem but they also state most of the driving they do now is city, stop and go stuff.
Maybe their old driving habits of what was predominantly highway use was fine but their current habit of constant city use leaves a bit to be desired.

Without meaning to pass judgment on the OP, OK4450 makes a good point: doing something a long time doesn’t necessarily mean doing it right.

Let’s do the math: 13K at 4 to 5 years, and 9K at 3 years = less than 3K per year.

It would seem to me that regardless, this low amount of mileage accumulation is at least part of the problem. Lots of things can happen with that scenario.

Propsal to OP: Bring the District Service Manager from Honda into the picture. See if he will make you an offer. If so, stipulate that if the fault is something covered by warranty - like a leaky main seal - then they will cover the cost (or at least most of the cost). If it turns out to be something not covered by warranty, you’ll stick to the deal as negotiated.

If they won’t give you a decent offer, take the car somewhere else (not a Honda dealer) and have them do an assessment. If they concur that the problem is something covered by the warranty, then be prepared to take them to court. If it turns our to be something not covered by the warranty, then get it fixed and move on.

Remember, the key to this is negotiation skills. Be firm, but reasonable.

IMHO…the way the OP describes and talks about the clutch makes me feel as though they actually know whats up as far as driving and how a clutch acts…

PUT A LITTLE more pressure on Honda…They stand behind their products but I guess dealers are standoffish because every Dick Tom and Harry would be asking for new muffler fluid each week if they didnt.

Methinks Honda may have had an issue with Fit clutches and may already know of this issue…Go on HOnda forums…like you have and see if it is widespread. I have also NEVER heard of a Honda driven by a competent driver wearing out the clutch…IN THE CITY or not… in under 15K… Competent driver is the key phrase here…

LET ME ASK YOU GoldenFlower…When you are at a light…and in traffic…what are you doing with the transmission?

Do You:
Put the car in neutral?
Put the trans in 1st gear and your clutch FULLY to the floor while you wait for traffic or a light?

Which is it?.. BE HONEST please, I’m not one to poke fun…