Experiencing clutch problems can be very irritating. It’s definitely one part of my car that I take for granted. So when I’m having clutch issues, it can cause unwanted disruption in my schedule.
Issues like high clutch biting points, the clutch pedal stuck down, and the clutch pedal losing pressure make up the majority of the problems reported by mechanics and Astra owners.
This article will explore these Vauxhall Astra Clutch Problems in depth to help Astra owners diagnose, repair, and prevent them. Here’s an overview of typical Vauxhall Astra clutch faults.
Concentric Clutch Slave Cylinder Failure
Many modern Vauxhall Astras have a concentric clutch slave cylinder built inside the gearbox casing. This small round part combines the hydraulic piston and release bearing into one single unit.
The concentric slave cylinder works by using hydraulic fluid pressure to push out the piston and push the release bearing onto the diaphragm spring hooks on the clutch pressure plate. This separates the clutch disc from the flywheel when the clutch pedal is pressed.
When the concentric slave cylinder fails, the following may be noticed:
- A spongy clutch pedal that does not respond properly
- The clutch pedal goes all the way down without resistance
- Grinding noises when changing gears
- Difficulty putting the gears into place
- Burning smell from too much clutch slip
These problems happen because the hydraulic piston inside the concentric cylinder has lost pressure due to internal leaks or damage. This stops it from properly operating the release bearing to separate the clutch.
In most cases the concentric slave cylinder unit needs replaced and the clutch hydraulic system needs drained. The new part will restore proper hydraulic operation and clutch function. It is a complicated repair so best left to an experienced mechanic.
Clutch Release Bearing/Slave Cylinder Leak
The release bearing and slave cylinder have seals that can deteriorate and start leaking fluid over time. Signs of a leak include:
- The clutch pedal sinks slowly as fluid escapes.
- Checking the engine bay shows the fluid level in the reservoir is low.
- Gear changes become difficult as fluid pressure decreases.
- Clutch fluid stains the outside of the gearbox casing.
- A burning smell from clutch slippage.
To properly repair this, locate the exact leak source and replace the faulty component. Replace the release bearing or slave cylinder, using new seals and gaskets. Closely check the fluid level and refill as required after the repair.
If the steering wheel and suspension also shake at low speeds, it indicates an issue with the clutch known as clutch judder. Common causes are:
- Hot spots or uneven areas on the flywheel friction surface. This causes the clutch to grab and release unevenly.
- Weak or worn damper springs in the clutch disc. These springs reduce vibrations but deteriorate over time.
- Diagnosing the clutch judder cause is key before repairing. One solution is resurfacing the flywheel, machining off a thin layer to restore a smooth surface for the clutch disc to contact.
Clutch Hydraulic Circuit Contamination
The clutch hydraulic system can become contaminated by dirt and metal bits over time. This makes the clutch pedal feel strange and can cause issues changing gears. Some ways contaminants enter the system are:
- Dirt and grit can accumulate in the hydraulic fluid over time from normal driving. The seals don’t provide 100% protection from outside contaminants.
- Parts of the clutch lining and pressure plate can come off after thousands of miles of use. These parts move through the fluid lines.
- Tiny metal shavings can come off the cylinders and pistons as they work. These shavings flow within the fluid.
Signs the clutch hydraulic system has contaminants include a clutch pedal that is hard to push down smoothly. It may be difficult to change gears easily.
The solution is to drain all the old hydraulic fluid to remove any contaminants. Replace it with clean new fluid to eliminate debris. This will make the clutch work properly again.
Vauxhall Astra Clutch Sensor Problems
The Vauxhall Astra uses a clutch pedal sensor to monitor how the clutch operates. This important sensor alerts the vehicle’s computer when the clutch pedal is depressed. Faulty clutch sensors can cause issues such as:
- Warning lights for the gearbox, ABS or clutch illuminating.
- Difficulty starting the vehicle or moving the gearstick out of ‘Park’.
- Cruise control intermittently ceasing to function.
- Engine speed does not change properly when changing gears.
If the vehicle displays error codes for the clutch sensor, the sensor is likely the issue. Inspect the wiring for damage. Test the sensor’s functionality. If faulty, replace the clutch pedal position sensor and reset the gearbox computer if required.
Vauxhall Astra Clutch Master Cylinder Problems
The Astra’s hydraulic clutch requires the master cylinder to generate adequate fluid pressure to disengage the clutch. Common Astra master cylinder failures include:
- Fluid leaks from seals allowing air ingress.
- The return spring fails preventing the pedal from returning.
- Internal cylinder wear preventing adequate pressure generation.
- Rust and dirt build-up reducing the internal cylinder diameter.
Master cylinder issues cause a clutch pedal that is low and spongy and can make it difficult to change gears. Check if the master cylinder is faulty by testing it.
Preventing Clutch Wear
To avoid these Vauxhall Astra clutch problems and maximise the lifespan of a Vauxhall Astra’s clutch, follow these expert tips:
- Avoid pressing the clutch pedal unless changing gears. Resting your foot on the pedal causes extra wear.
- Change gears smoothly without forcing the gear stick into place. Forcing the gear stick stresses the clutch components.
- Follow the recommended clutch fluid replacement schedule. This prevents the build-up of contaminants in the fluid.
- Check for any leaks early and have them fixed quickly. Leaks lead to low fluid levels and problems with the hydraulic system.
- Address any shuddering or vibrations right away before the issue worsens. Early diagnosis saves the clutch from major damage.
- Good driving habits and regular maintenance keep an Astra’s clutch in working order for many trouble-free miles. Deal with issues early to avoid big clutch repairs later.
In summary, the Astra’s clutch wears over time, but if you stick to a maintenance schedule and drive sensibly, your clutch should last for many years. Now that you know the common wear issues that your Astra clutch will face you are in a great position to keep the clutch in healthy, working order.
What typically causes the clutch on a Vauxhall Astra to fail?
Frequent causes of Vauxhall Astra clutch failure include worn clutch components like the pressure plate, release bearing, or clutch disk, failure of the concentric slave cylinder, leaks in the hydraulic system, contamination in the clutch fluid, overheating from excessive use, and damage from forced gear shifts.
How can I make my Vauxhall Astra clutch last longer?
You can prolong your Astra’s clutch life by pressing on the clutch pedal only when required, shifting gears smoothly, maintaining proper clutch fluid levels, having any leaks repaired promptly, and addressing problems early before extensive wear occurs.
What is involved in fixing or replacing the clutch on a Vauxhall Astra?
Fixing or replacing the Astra’s clutch requires the removal of the transmission to access components. The pressure plate, release bearing, pilot bearing, clutch disk, slave cylinder, and flywheel may need replacement. Hydraulic lines will need bleeding, and proper adjustments made upon reinstallation. It typically takes 6-8 hours of labour.