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Here's something to look out for on high-mileage cars with the manual trans: clutch fork failure. I mentioned this in another thread, but this is the full story of how I spent a good part of my Xmas vacation this year.

On Xmas Eve, I started having trouble shifting. I could barely get into first gear from a stop, and I had to double-clutch to make it into second without grinding gears. Eventually I couldn't get into gear at all because the clutch wouldn't fully disengage. I had 240k on the car (only 30k on the clutch, though), so I figured it was a problem with the slave or master cylinder. Those are easy enough to replace, so I just decided to do both. No visible leaks, but internal leakage seemed very possible.

Got the new cylinders in, flushed and bled the system, but the clutch still wouldn't completely disengage. Called my friendly tech at the Subaru dealer near home, and he told me how to adjust the rod length on the master cylinder. Aha, thought I. Took a lot of adjustment, but I finally got the clutch to disengage. Off I go.

New Year's Day, my wife and I met some friends for dinner, and coming off the freeway I lose my clutch entirely when I go to downshift. The pedal sank to the floor and stayed there, leaving me to drift into a parking lot. It's nighttime, so I left it there and had the in-laws pick us up; fortunately we were only a mile away. The next morning I discover that the slave cylinder piston had blown completely out of its housing. Most slave cylinders I've seen in the past have some sort of retainer to prevent this from happening, so I assume it was a bad part and procure a replacement.

When I get back to the car to replace the slave cylinder again, I put everything in place and get ready to bolt it down. That's when I notice that the gap between the slave cylinder rod and the clutch fork seems, well, a bit wider than it should be. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I pull off the clutch fork boot, grab a flashlight, and see that the reason the slave cylinder piston blew out was because the fork had cracked and bent backward so far that the pushrod couldn't reach it anymore.

To provide some context, this is now Friday, January 2, and we're supposed to drive back from Michigan to Washington, DC the next day. No shops can deal with this until the following week, and even if they could they can't get a clutch fork. After an hour on the phone, I find one - miraculously - at a dealer only 180 miles away. So I embark on a six-hour roundtrip just to get the part I need. In the meantime, I arrange for the car to be towed to my dad's house, where he thankfully has a well-equipped garage.

Friday night I pull the engine and remove the culprit:





Saturday morning and early afternoon I reinstall everything and have the car back on the road by 5pm. Craziest 24 hours of my life. We finally got on the road a day late, but still on track to get home before school and work resume. Then the alternator in my sister-in-law's Jeep failed on the Ohio turnpike (we were driving back together). I replaced that in an AutoZone parking lot, and we got back at 4am with three hours to spare.

The real pisser is that I went back to look at the photos I took when I rebuilt the motor at 211k, and you can see the faint lines that were apparently the stress cracks that led to the fork's failure. I just never thought to look for them.



I have yet to hear of another person who has experienced this, but it might be a good idea to checks yours if the engine is out.
 

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nipper said:
Maybe we need to add this to the "its had a very long life, lets replace it while we are here" list.
Could, but it was about $75 and with proper lubrication it may not need replacement. I think the Michigan climate took its toll, and I neglected to lube the pivot periodically. Definitely on the list to inspect, though.
 

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Hey mate I had the exact problem clutch wouldn't disengage and my dumb mechanic said it was a clutch issue so installed a new one. 2 days later the clutch for snapped completely so back I go to have that replaced. All is running well however if I drive to a while the clutch slips when I give it gas. I think it's the fork installed incorrectly and not applying enough pressure however the mechanic has no idea and won't help. Do you have any ideas. Cheers
 

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Hey my friend, thought I would let you know that this just happened to me. I could go on to tell my story but it's pretty much the same as yours: on the way home from a long road trip, same symptoms, tried replacing cylinders, found it to be the clutch fork. Only difference is I am not skilled enough nor do I have the right tools to fix this myself, so a shop is doing it for me - cost is estimated to be $850.

If you're getting your clutch replaced on your MT OBW, look into replacing this part as well! I had my clutch done just 30,000 miles ago, really wish I had replaced this fork as well and saved myself a major headache.

Strangely enough, mine is happening near Christmas as well. Thanks Subaru for ruining my break...
 

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Yep, Subaru just managed to ruin our Easter break. It is easter Saturday and we are now without a car for our week of family holidays. Now need a new clutch and and a new clutch fork in our 6 year old low km outback! As I am not a mechanic, nor is my husband we now will be paying the Subaru dealer $3200 to fix! NOT HAPPY.
 

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OK - I give up.... please tell me how to "lube" that pivot-point which is INSIDE the bellhousing? Mine has been sqeeking loudly for several years and I have not discovered any way to "lube" thru the little hole without also getting lube on the clutch-faces.
 

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Yep, Subaru just managed to ruin our Easter break. It is easter Saturday and we are now without a car for our week of family holidays. Now need a new clutch and and a new clutch fork in our 6 year old low km outback! As I am not a mechanic, nor is my husband we now will be paying the Subaru dealer $3200 to fix! NOT HAPPY.
Big mistake... DO NOT pay a Subaru dealer $3200 for a clutch job. If you can't do it yourself, find someone who can do it for a reasonable price... somewhere in the range of $1k - $1.5k. You are paying more than double what you should by having a dealer do it.
 

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I had the same clutch fork problem...breaking. Previous owner had installed a pressure plate with stronger springs and thus putting more stress on the clutch fork, slave cylinder and master cylinder. I never did like that extremely stiff clutch. Once I replaced it with the correct OEM pressure plate and a new fork, it is now a smooth operating clutch. No more grabbing and I'll bet no more broken forks. NICE!!!

I wonder how many clutch fork failures can be attributed to "heavy duty" pressure plates?
 

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470834
240,000 miles 2nd clutch fork failure. 1st one 3 yrs ago just over a yr after the dealership replacedother parts of clutch and never checked fork"because they don't normally crack. I threatened to leave my car there in pieces as opposed to paying another 2000+ for repairs for something they should have checked when they did the first repair but they claimed it was not something that normally fails so they dont pull and inspect it. So they charged me a deductible for parts and reassembled with comp laborto get the car out of the shop. This time i took it to a local trans shop because the dealersip was too busy dealing with recalls to take my calls. Cylinder totally blown, fork broke as seen above, flywheel cracked, dsc compressed also. Cluch went to floor and stayed there, i got it into 2nd gear when rpms hit right and got close enough to work for someone to pick me up and had car towed to repair shop. 1st time dan had ever seen a cracked fork in his repair history. Guess he'll be checking for it on subarus now.
 
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