Q: Hydraulic clutch

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My daughter was driving her Fiat with only 27,000 miles on it when all of a sudden there were no gears. She found herself coasting in the middle of the highway. She could not put the car in any gear and when she tried to put it in reverse, the gear would grind. The Fiat dealer is trying to tell her it's the clutch. I find it impossible to believe that a clutch can go out at only 27,000 miles with absolutely NO warning prior. They say it's because it's a hydraulic clutch. I did read online where Fiat had some problems with the power train that made the clutch stick and specifically the finger plate would go bad. My question is is it possible for a clutch to go out like that without any warning and secondly can a bad power train create this problem. I thank you for whatever assistance you can provide.

My car has 27000 miles.

The clutch system has multiple parts:

  • flywheel
  • clutch disc
  • pressure plate
  • release bearing
  • hydraulic master cylinder
  • slave cylinder

All the forward gears in your transmission have blocking rings to prevent gear engagement unless the clutch is disengaged. The reverse gear does not, and that is why it can clash. The clutch slave cylinder moves in and out, using the release bearing to push in the fingers on the pressure plate. The pressure plate will then take pressure off of the clutch disc and will allow gear engagement or change.

If the pressure plate has broken fingers that just broke then yes, it can cause the clutch not to be disengaged. The fix would be to replace the clutch disc, pressure plate and release bearing. I have seen clutches go out in 10k to 12k miles.

The most common cause of the failure is riding your foot on the clutch when driving. This will cause the release bearing to get worn out and spin in the pressure plate fingers and cut them in two. A defective release bearing can cause the same problem.

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