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Subaru Forester 2011, about 110K miles on it.

We've been told by a local mechanic (not a dealer) that the clutch release bearing needs to be replaced. The car makes some noise when shifting and prior to that you could feel some "sloppiness" in the clutch engagement. So the mechanic has concluded this bearing is the cause.

This is a somewhat expensive repair in the $700-800 range.

Apparently on this car its quite a lot of labor to get to the bearing, the transmission has to be removed; so he suggested that it may be worth replacing the clutch assembly while it is all open, essentially as a precautionary measure. The extra cost to do this is about 1/3 to 1/2 more than just the bearing replacement; but could avoid ever having to do this procedure again.

(Specifically he suggested also replacing the pressure plates & pilot bearing).

Its hard to judge if this is worth doing. One thought is to ask him to assess the condition of these other components once the car is opened up; but even if those components are in good shape, maybe it is still prudent to replace them?

It is the original clutch, we've never had any work done on this part of the car before.


UPDATE: We did indeed have the clutch assembly replaced as well. Aside from the prudent advice here the mechanic noted definite wear which he said went beyond preventative maintenance to essentially necessary.

  • 1
    If the car is worth spending money to fix the release bearing, then it sounds like a good idea to replace all the clutch while the car is in bits. – HandyHowie Mar 3 at 14:02
  • Look at it the other way - you spend the 800 now and in 3 months you pay to have it apart again for another 800 plus the parts... your money your choice... mechanic gets paid so he or she is happy. – Solar Mike Mar 3 at 14:47
  • @SolarMike I guess its the likelihood of that being possible that I'm trying to ascertain. Its sounding like given the age of the car there is a definite possibility of wear in these other components. – UuDdLrLrSs Mar 3 at 15:30
  • If you plan on keeping the car for any length of time, it makes 100% sense to me to replace clutch disc, pressure plate, throw out (release) bearing, and the pilot bearing. No question. – David Watson Mar 3 at 16:46
  • The problem with release bearing failures is that depending how long it took for you to realize it was failing, and how badly it failed, there can be collateral damage to the rest of the clutch and even to the gearbox drive shaft. The only way to find out is to strip everything down. That may be wasted effort, or may decide in the end to replace the whole unit anyway. The straightforward choice is "just replace it" and get a guarantee on the new unit, which you may not have on a complicated "minimal" repair job. – alephzero Mar 3 at 18:29
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At ~110k on the clock it's quite likely that it's the original clutch, and if so you're going to be significantly closer to the end of the clutch's life than the start.

Given the big labor cost/effort in getting the transmission out it's likely to be the sensible option in the long run to replace the clutch now while you've got it apart.

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  • 2
    I was about to write just the same... plus 1. – Solar Mike Mar 3 at 14:45
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    That is a useful perspective, thanks. It is the original clutch, we've never had any work done on this part of the car before. – UuDdLrLrSs Mar 3 at 15:29
  • And yes, replace the pressure plate and pilot bearing as well. It will cost a big more now but likely save you a lot down the road. – jwh20 Mar 3 at 15:30
  • @jwh20 I'd agree with that - it's so much hassle to get it all apart that it makes sense to do a complete refresh while you're in there. – motosubatsu Mar 3 at 15:34
  • "And yes, replace the pressure plate " don't forget the clutch disc. – Moab Mar 3 at 17:31
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A clutch release bearing should outlast the heat death of the universe. It fails when the clutch linkage is misadjusted, or someone rests foot on the clutch idly, or holds down clutch for more than a second or two (e.g. at stop lights or while waiting for traffic to move). So stop doing / fix that while you're in there.

The deciding factor on clutch replacement is condition. It's silly to replace a barely-worn clutch. But at 100K one would expect a clutch to be about due, depending on the skill of the driver and type of driving (me: 95% freeway cruise, so clutches never wear out for me). I wouldn't replace a 10-20% worn clutch, but a 40% worn clutch, yes, since you're in there.

Of course the mechanic will insist on the new clutch being on-hand when the car is opened up, and won't want to return it.

Pressure plates are very easy to inspect, and are steel, so may be in good condition. The pilot bearing, like the clutch release bearing, is only active during clutch-in, so I'd change it if the release bearing needs it.

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  • All rotating things fail eventually... – Solar Mike Mar 5 at 6:49

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