Are clutches better now than in the 80's?

Messages
3,309
Location
Richmond, VA
I remember back in the 80's that clutches seemed to go out on friends cars sometimes. Fast forward to today and it seems like clutches are unbrakable. Is it because I'm almost 40 and my friends don't do burnounts in parking lots anymore? Or is it that no one drives a stick anymore? Or have they just become that much more reliable? I've owned 4 cars with clutches and never had one go bad. What is the lifespan on one if you drive a lot of highway miles?
 
Messages
1,353
Location
PA
the last 3 standard shift cars I've had had the following results: 1948 Packard- still on original clutch and working fine 1982 Ford escort- original clutch was still fine on way to junkyard around 97k miles 1983 Honda prelude- original clutch failed around 327k, put new one in but car fell apart few years later. frown
 
Messages
5,576
Location
earth
dad had a 93 jetta about 120,000 miles and had the clutch done in the last 30k or so. connecting link between pedal and clutch also broke once, leaving me stranding in traffic, luckily was stationary at the time and in neutral. that car was a real problem in the last 60,000 miles of its life.
 
Messages
445
Location
Orlando, FL
I've had over a dozen cars with a manual tranny. The one's I've replaced: '74 VW Super Beetle 90K- clutch oil soaked due to a leak. '79 MGB- 100K- replaced rear main seal and replaced the clutch because I was in there already. Original clutch was still working properly. '86 Porsche 944- 135K- Stupid design on original clutch. The clutch disc is surrounded by a rubber disk that eventually deteriorates/rots away. When that happens, the car must be flat bedded. The replacement clutch is normal. '79 Dodge Omni- 79K- Clutch cable snapped. Clutch was fine. None of the others (Italian, German, Japanese) needed any clutch related work. I have seen many complaints of early clutch demise with Hyundai Accents (18-45K miles.) Luckily, ours are slushboxes. Never thought I'd say that.
 
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Messages
19,528
Location
Lake Forest, CA
Almost every critical component in the car now is much more reliable now than 30 years ago. It was normal to rebuild transmission at 150-200k miles in the 70-80's, my 260+k miles LS400 has original transmission and ATF had been changed twice, first change was at 9x,xxx miles and second was at 22x,xxx miles. It has original radiator too, also valve cover gaskets are original without leak.
 
Messages
36,515
Location
ME
Saturn took the known good clutch from the 91-99 series and put weaker springs in (or something) with a redesign for 00-02 and the end of the model run. After a couple of clutches 40k apart on wife's 2000 model year car (driven like my 95-- not a driver condition) I retrofitted the earlier design in. It grabs much better; I have high hopes. Hopefully it's the low first gear ratios of modern 5 speeds helping clutches out.
 
Messages
84
Location
Littleton, CO
My 92 Accord original disc had 375k+ on it when I got rid of it, good bite. Probably 60% highway. We have an 02 CR-V at 138k, 03 S2000 at 23k, and an 06 Accord EX at 75k. All on the initial disc. I have never been much of a slipper with engagement, focusing on engine speed and using a quick release except when starting out. The only problem I have had with all of them, excluding the S2000, is judder when starting out some mornings. I have read that dual mass flywheels used by Honda are the cause. I believe in the EX having one but would be suprised to find out the CR-V or the 92 Accord did. Why it happens when things are cold is beyond me.
 
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Messages
17,298
Location
OH
According to an indie Honda tech of many years experience, clutches do last longer now than they did years ago. I don't think that the driver has all that much to do with clutch life, since most people quickly adapt to any given clutch, and use it properly. I think it's more a matter of where the car is driven. Let' say car A is driven on a long highway commute each day, while car B is driven mostly in traffic. Which car will have the longer lived clutch, regardless of driver?
 
Messages
1,460
Location
Las Vegas
Driver has a lot to do with it. I used to do a lot of 4k RPM launches with the clutch feathered to control wheel spin back in my Datsun 2000 Roadster days. Never had a clutch go out, but I replaced some pretty burned disks everythime I had the engine out for major maintenance. Which was often. Of course, I've grown up, and don't do that anymore, and I've yet to have a clutch failure. Now, I see idiots sit at traffic lights on hills, using the clutch to keep the car in position. Up and back, up and back. There's a 50k mile clutch, if the rest of the car lasts that long.
 
Messages
35,791
Location
NY
I think the hydraulic system improved clutches, but the design and materials used hasn't really changed all that much since the 80's, has it? Forget about abuse, we all know that will ruin one in short order. How you drive a stick, and the conditions it is driven under are the key to how long a clutch will last. A person living in the middle of nowhere driving in no traffic is going to get a lot more life from a clutch than someone commuting from Long Island to NYC 5 days a week at rush hour, then coming home in rush hour again.
 
Messages
19,479
Location
Chicago Area
Clutch wear is highly dependent on the driver. An old Corvette clutch could go out in 35,000, or 135,000. For the average life of Joe Blow's car, figure 80,000 miles to 120,000. Many go much more. Remember highway use has no clutch wear, but lots of miles.
 
Messages
3,941
Location
Ohio
Back in the 80s they didn't make clutches out of sweatshops in China. Today that's all we see. So, barring improvements in materials and design, I'm not so thrilled about the quality of clutches or any other parts for that matter nowadays.
 
Messages
19,686
Location
Sunny Florida
typically in my cars the rear main has leaked on the clutch at high miles before the disc wore out. One of my employees has an 85 Mustang GT 5 speed that has over 180k miles on the original clutch, still drives well and holds tight. But I agree it's ALL about the driver.
 
Messages
8,598
Location
Florida
Originally Posted By: L_Sludger
Back in the 80s they didn't make clutches out of sweatshops in China. Today that's all we see. So, barring improvements in materials and design, I'm not so thrilled about the quality of clutches or any other parts for that matter nowadays.
Where it is made depends on the individual clutch. There are plenty of them made in places with a high standard of living. Also, I have seen many car parts that were not made in China, but were so badly made, they might as well have been made there.
 
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