Things I learned changing a clutch in an e46...

pain, tears, anger, tears, bloody knuckles, and tears.

4y ago

Well, I was on the local track one day and my clutch decided that it was going to do its best impression of an IED, when it was supposed to be letting me change down into second gear for a hairpin.

This is what clutch failure looks like kids...

This is what clutch failure looks like kids...

So I limped the car home, scraping the exploded side of the clutch disc against the flywheel, and drove it into my garage.. No big deal right? "Just need to drop the gearbox and swap the clutch out". Little did I know I might as well have said: "Just need to steal that Rembrandt from the MET. "

I put the car on jack stands, broke the exhaust studs when removing the exhaust, dropped a driveshaft on my face, stripped two bell housing bolts, then spent the next 48 hours trying to figure out how to extract a badly seized out of reach bolt on the top of the transmission.

My view for like 43 thousand hours I think..

My view for like 43 thousand hours I think..

I eventually did remove the bolt, but not after genuinely sitting down and crying a few times like a child, and then I was able with much difficulty, to drop the transmission. There was a point after I got the gearbox out, that I realized that I couldn't bring myself to put a stock clutch back in. It was just two much work. So I went with a Lightweight flywheel and M5 pressure plate with a UUC organic clutch. It cost me many dollars, and it came in the box without the flywheel bolts... I cried again.

The following weekend bolts arrived and I set to work only then realizing that I should do the rear main seal and pilot bearing. So I went out and rented a bearing puller to remove the old pilot bearing, which didn't fit properly, so I fashioned a simple machine out of rope and an tried to pull the bearing out from the rear with the help of two men and a dog. That didn't work either. So I resorted to the old fashioned hamming of wet paper towel into the hole, which did. Progress.

I re-installed the new pilot bearing, flywheel, and pressure plate then realized that the clutch alignment tool that came with the kit was as useful for aligning the clutch disc as a piece of cooked broccoli. So I had to modify it. Because of my supreme engineering prowess, I made it work using carefully wrapped electrical tape and I was able to re-insert the transmission. Or I would have been able to if the transmission played fair, and acted as if it was even remotely meant to be mated to that engine. I swear I must have split water on it, and it swelled up or something. It took me and another guy 3-4 hours of turning, and pushing, and rotating, and bench-pressing, only to find that I forgot to replace the bell housing gasket. So It came back out...

Honestly, I'll spare you the rest. It includes more tears, exhaust stud drilling, and a nearly broken finger. What I will tell you is what I learned from this experience: 1. I need to give myself about 6 times the amount of time I would think I need to do a job like this. 2. I learned to be patient and take frequent first aid breaks 3. I learned that more than anything else, even food, I need a lift. 4. I should have bought a Toyota.

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Comments (11)

  • Oh man, I changed the clutch in my E46. I feel your pain - physically and emotionally. I had changed out 2 clutches previously, both in Nissan's, so I thought it would be a similar process. I was wrong. So, SO wrong. 😭

      3 years ago
  • Dude, I feel you. Did a clutch job with the engine and trans out which was a breeze but then I had to do one on the ground and I'm about to do another on the ground, not looking forward to it.

      2 years ago
  • The Joy of doing mecanics is sometime difficult. I had similar problem on a 306 1.4 i remember the New clutch kit(valeo) exploded in only 200km i had to set back the old original one. The leson is don't buy any clutch kit from valeo.

      3 years ago
  • Never did such a complex work on my car myself, even if I would have liked to, but I can definitely relate to the "owning a lift" thing, because even on the easy tasks I did, I would have been helped by having it.

      3 years ago
  • Sound just like engine replacement in my e34 525i auto...i broke the bolt on top of bellhoising too...

      3 years ago