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I have a 10 yr old fiat panda with 38k miles on the odometer. Manual Transmission. Within couple months I started getting all of the symptoms of the clutch slipping. The condition is worse in a higher gear. I have only put 10K miles on it.

Why has the clutch gone so quickly with only a total of 48K miles on the vehicle?

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There are two likely possibilities, and it could be both:

Abuse

As described in James' answer, with the right owner a clutch could be decimated with relatively low mileage. With mileage that low it would take some serious abuse to get there.

Low Quality

The clutch may have been built with low quality components. The Scion xA and xB of the mid 2000's used inferior pressure plate springs. As a result they could weaken quickly and clutch slipping became common even below 10k in some cases. A little Google searching suggests that the Fiat Panda might have a similar issue. I drove my sister's xA like that for half a year careful to avoid slipping the clutch, but it was in no way ideal.

Adjustment could be an issue as well, but since most modern clutches are self-adjusting(it appears the Panda fits this category) I didn't add it as a possibility in this case.

Considering the mileage of the vehicle and a lack of driving history knowledge, it might be a good idea to look at a higher quality clutch for your replacement. A stage 1 aftermarket clutch kit from a reputable brand would prevent this problem in the future if the OEM parts are indeed prone to failure.

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If the clutch has been abused by a previous owner's bad habits, it's entirely possible for the clutch to be worn out and slipping. By releasing or engaging too slowly, I can imagine the wear material on the clutch going away sooner. If the vehicle was driven in stop-and-go traffic all the time that will contribute to earlier wear, too, unlike a highway driven vehicle that has seen relatively few shifts

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  • A car trick of any sort can damage various components real fast. – Nelson Apr 3 '15 at 15:19

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