UK 61 plate, Ford Diesel Mondeo Estate, Econetic: clutch replaced at 31,800 miles; failure caused by 'driver style'

I use my car daily for commuting and for business. It's supplied to me as a company car under contract from a leasing company. I’ve had it from new and there are no other drivers. The car has been serviced at the correct intervals and at Ford garages. I haven’t had any issue with it to date.

Two weeks ago my gearbox (manual) failed completely and without warning. I pulled up to the queue at a roundabout. When the queue started to move I could not engage any gears. There were no warning lights. Once at the side of the road I found I could engage gears with the engine off, but if I started it (clutch depressed) I couldn’t then change from the gear I was in. The car was immobile. I called my recovery.

The mechanic arrived and looked under the bonnet. The clutch slave cylinder was leaking fluid badly. He told me that’s why the gearbox didn’t work – it’s what I’d kind of expected as the gearbox wouldn’t work when the engine was running because there was something wrong with the hydraulics. The following day I took the car into a Ford garage. After two days work, the car was returned with slave cylinder fixed and new clutch fitted since the old was 'badly worn'. The work was carried out completely without permission from me - the garage just did it. It’s now being claimed by the leasing company that the fault is entirely down to ‘driver style’. That the cause of the slave cylinder failure was through an overheated clutch. And the evidence on which I am supposed to accept this is a single photo of a clutch plate. This means it’s out of warranty and I’ve a £790 bill staring at me personally.

The garage just went ahead and did the work. In calls with them as the job was progressing they told me they'd got permission from the leasing company to go ahead - that was at the stage of removing the gearbox. I don't know what happened after that. What I do know is the business I work for was approached after I had picked the car, asking for permission to go ahead with the work - because it was clutch wear caused by 'driver style' - and that we'd be liable for the bill.

I'm not one to duck responsibility so if I'm responsible then fair enough. Problem is in 35 years of driving I’ve never worn out a clutch. I don’t ride my clutch or slip it at lights or on hills and I don’t drive with my foot on the clutch – anything like that. And I’d not experienced any issues with slipping, jumping out of gear, or changes in engine revs when I engage or disengage the clutch before this happened - it just came out of the blue. I can’t understand how I’ve caused it to happen. So you can understand my confusion at the accusation.

Can anyone help me understand this better?

I understand replacing the slave itself requires the gearbox is removed to gain access. Is it Ford practice, since the bulk of the work has already been done to replace a clutch, to always do so at opportunities like this? And would it be that the clutch would be replaced whether worn or not?

Could an overheated clutch have caused the slave cylinder to fail? Or would it have been the other way round that a malfunctioning slave could have caused excessive wear on the clutch?

I drive the car using the speed limiter a lot – it’s a great means of keeping me from speeding. But is there anything about the way in which the speed limiter operates that could have led to excessive clutch wear?

I also use the auto-start feature. Could that have promoted excessive wear?

But most of all I feel outraged that I'm being held hostage. It's their word against mine. How can I prove it wasn't me that wore out the clutch other than say emphatically I've never done so before and doubt I would now? Is this just a garage seeing some easy money (the nature of the problem and the stage we are now at - the work is complete - means its nigh impossible to identify who or what is at fault) from a punter who doesn't usually use them (I normally use one very close to where I work - so they don't really care whether they piss me off). The whole thing stinks!

I am at a loss over this. Any insight would be really helpful. Especially mechanical insights on the problem and whether its possible this was a poor clutch from the word go.

  • 8
    I would like to point out that because the slave cylinder is what pushes the clutch in the hydraulic system in the Mondeo, that if it starts to leak, it would cause the clutch to not be fully depressed or sloppy during engagements, which would cause the clutch to overheat. i.e. The slave cylinder failing can directly cause the the clutch wear. I would almost 100% say the failure caused the wear, and you're being screwed.
    – Bugasu
    Jul 1, 2013 at 14:19
  • 1
    Steven, what you describe sounds like exactly what has happened to my 2014 Audi S3. First, it was diagnosed with a faulty slave cylinder but even after replacing that the whole gearbox has to come off because shifting is still problematic. Car maintenance history shows clutch disc was replaced just 600km before I bought it (under warranty) Aug 7, 2015 at 6:27

5 Answers 5


It sounds like they're trying to take you for a ride to me. I can't see how driving style could cause the slave cylinder to fail - they're separated by a mechanical linkage.

I would also dispute that anyone could destroy a clutch with 32k of normal driving - I'd expect it to last at least twice that long. However, a leaking cylinder might cause contamination of the clutch plate, which might result in it needing to be replaced. I don't know about auto-start though. I doubt the speed limiter would affect the clutch at all, it should just cut the throttle when the requisite speed is reached.

It is quite common to replace a moderately-worn clutch when the 'box is off, as that saves removing the box again to replace it later.

I'm not a lawyer, but I would have thought that if it was the leasing company who authorised the work, they ought to be liable to pay for it - You didn't give permission and were only contacted after it was done.

  • 4
    +1 Nick has this spot on. Except I can absolutely see the possibility of destroying a clutch through driving style at that sort of mileage, but you would have to be the type of driver who dumps the clutch off the lights every time...however as Nick says: not the slave cylinder.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 1, 2013 at 9:43
  • Thanks guys - these comments are useful. If anyone else can add anything or even if it's just to confirm whats already been said that'd be really helpful. Thank you.
    – John
    Jul 1, 2013 at 12:34
  • 1
    If the vehicle is used in fleet service with all city stop and go driving the clutch could wear quickly. This would be compounded if the slave was leaking allowing the clutch to partially engage at every stop.
    – mikes
    Jul 1, 2013 at 20:00
  • Hi Mikes. Whilst the vehicle is a company car it's used exclusively by me only. I live and work outside of cities and major conurbations - all my driving is on main A roads and motorways.
    – John
    Jul 2, 2013 at 8:09
  • @RoryAlsop I imagine if someone rode the clutch badly, particularly if in a hilly area, you might wear the clutch out in that time. Back when I was learning I did a great job of burning the clutch on some poorly executed hill starts!
    – andrewb
    Oct 5, 2013 at 23:37

We have a 2011 Ford Focus TDCi 115 engine (same, I assume in your Mondeo econetic) and we are currently having our slave cylinder and clutch plates changed. The car is on 35,000 miles and has previously had the clutch master cylinder replaced.

According to many Ford forums, it is very common on these new 1.6 TDCi 115 engines to have clutch related issues. Therefore, I would try to prove that this is common to them through forums.

Regards, Matthew.


Driving the vehicle would not destroy the clutch slave cylinder(Concentric Slave Cylinder). Leakage from the CSC would cause the gears to be increaseingly hard to engage. An abrupt and sudden failure to be able to engage gears would mean the CSC has failed totally. Fleet hire companies buy their vehicles with three year warranties. Ford have had trouble with their CSC's and have changed their specifications several times. Who ever authorised the work to be carried out is responsible to pay the bill. Simples.


A friend of mine recently had a similar issue on his 18,000 mile Ford C-Max, attributed to a failed hydraulic cylinder which then emptied fluid all over the clutch thus ruining it. I wonder if there is a hydraulic problem with these cars that Ford aren't talking about.

Upon having the clutch repaired, it was discovered that there was a problem with the input shaft on the gearbox. When the specialists came to rebuild it, they found it impossible to source a second hand input shaft that was usable. Apparently these gearboxes eat input shafts which could account for clutch and related failure on Ford vehicles.

So, it's fair to say, a manufacturing or design fault could be a reason for early failure of a clutch for a reason other that driving style.

  • Does this answer the question?
    – Cullub
    Jul 11, 2016 at 0:42
  • Interesting question @cullub. Upon having the clutch repaired, it was discovered that there was a problem with the input shaft on the gearbox. When the specialists came to rebuild it, they found it impossible to source a second hand input shaft that was usable. Apparently these gearboxes eat input shafts which could account for clutch and related failure on Ford vehicles. Jul 11, 2016 at 9:17
  • Ok - why don't you add that to your answer, and I'll upvote it. (I didn't down vote)
    – Cullub
    Jul 11, 2016 at 14:18

Further to all of the previous comments by Ford owners, it now appears there is a Ford issued recall for a clutch problem which is likely the reason for your early failure.

Mode details can be found here;


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