Coming Through in the Clutch

by | Sep 2000 | BMW, Import Service | 0 comments

After an astonishing 184,000 miles, the original clutch on this one-owner 1987 BMW 325iS finally decided it had completed its tour of duty. The way it failed was curious, though. Instead of the typical symptoms of gradually slipping and losing engagement, the owner said the car developed a decided ‘crunch’ in the clutch pedal, followed by a loss of about 50 percent of pedal resistance. But even this change produced no clutch slippage, even during the additional 500 miles of driving before he finally brought the car in for a clutch replacement.

As it turned out once we had things apart, the clutch failed because of a crack in the Belleville spring inside the pressure plate. Based on the observed life of the original clutch, there seemed to be enough lining left on the clutch disc to go another 30-40,000 miles. However, enough was enough, and it was clear the car was due for a clutch replacement.

As you’ll see in the photos, the clutch R&R procedure is typical for a front-engined, RWD car. However, there are two steps that can drive you to a career in toaster repair if you’re not prepared for them: the upper starter motor bolt and the forward shifter mount. Pay special attention to avoid what could be profit-killing hours poured down these two black holes in time. You can do the entire job from underneath the car.

Estimate Carefully

One final caution. According to factory parts manuals, the BMW clutch design was changed during the 1987 model year to a dual-mass (dual-disc) design. Before price-estimating this job, check the vehicle’s VIN number. The replacement parts for the dual-mass clutch assembly are approximately three times more expensive than those for the more conventional design.

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