Once upon a time clutch replacement was fairly inexpensive. But no more thanks in part to two factors: first is the advent of front wheel drive and all wheel drive; second is the change to dual mass flywheel clutch systems.
For much of the automobile’s history rear wheel drive was common. This made clutch replacement quite easy: remove the driveshaft, shift lever, clutch linkage, pull out the transmission and there was the clutch. On many cars and trucks the whole procedure could be done within three hours.
These days most cars are front wheel drive and this adds to the complexity of removing the transmission to access the clutch. In addition there are now many all wheel drive vehicles which require removing additional driveshafts and perhaps even the transfer case. Clutch jobs now require five to nine plus hours labour.
The other expense factor in modern clutch replacement is the advent of the dual mass flywheel. Once found only on diesel light trucks and exotic imports like Audi, Porsche and Mini they have become common place in many a vehicle. Even economy models like the Nissan Versa have this very expensive clutch system.
So just what is this system and why the expense? Unlike ordinary flywheels which are essentially a large precision machined heavy steel disc which lasts through many clutch replacements, the dual mass flywheel is two flywheels put together with dampening springs in between. Dual mass flywheels provide the advantages of: minimizing engine vibrations, easier shifts, smoother clutch engagement and overall smoothness in the vehicle. The dual mass’ disadvantage is that it wears out and requires replacement along with your clutch.
When it comes to replacing your dual mass flywheeled clutch expect a large bill. In addition to the normally priced clutch the new flywheel typically costs $500 to over $1000.
There is good news however because there is, in many cases an alternative to buying an expensive dual mass flywheel and that is a replacement clutch kit which eliminates the dual mass flywheel. Inside the kit is a conventional clutch with new solid metal flywheel. How well do they work? In all the replacements that we’ve done they work perfectly: you’ll never miss the dual mass setup.
As you can see, adding a dual mass flywheel clutch to an all wheel drive vehicle can result in an expensive clutch replacement, often exceeding two thousand dollar. So be prepared and use your clutch gently because now, more than even, you’ll want your clutch to last a long time.