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Hello Alfa Owners. I recently purchased my first Alfa and have a question abut the clutch. It is a 91 spider with 55,000 miles. The clutch must be pushed to the floor to disengage and it begins to engage as soon as you start to lift from the floor. At first I thought this could a problem with the master or slave as I have read lots about these needing replacement or rebuild. The fluid was very bad (sludge) so I went ahead and replaced both. After bleeding the system the clutch pedal still must go to the floor. No change. The travel on the slave is within the specs. In addition there is a vibration on the passenger side of the trans tunnel when pulling out and accelerating. It goes away when you get up to speed. The clutch does not appear to slip at all.
In the service records I have for this car I found that the clutch was replaced at 28,000 miles and the flywheel was resurfaced also. At 40,000 miles the drive shaft flex disk was replaced together with the center support beading and rear trans mount.
Before I jump into pulling the trans I would like some advice from experts on these cars and if you have any suggestions or agree that the clutch needs to be replaced.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions or comments.
 

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Welcome to the BB.

Is there a return spring on the clutch throw out fork (at the bell housing)? There should not be! There is a small hole that looks like the perfect place to attach a return spring but that is a left-over from the earlier models. If you have a spring there it will push the piston in the slave cylinder back too far. Then most of the movement of the pedal is used up pushing the piston back out to where it can begin to move the clutch fork.

How did you bleed the system? Are you certain all air is removed? Hydraulic clutch systems are notoriously difficult to bleed - because you are trying to push air down - the opposite of the way it wants to go.

Where does the clutch pedal sit relative to the brake pedal? It should be equal or slightly higher. If is significantly lower then the pedal pivot shaft's weld is suspect. The weld can fail allowing the pedal to sit low. Replacements are upgraded for a stronger weldment. see the links here: http://www.alfabb.com/bb/forums/1142619-post108.html

Was the pushrod at the master cylinder correctly adjusted? Although it is adjustable it is not meant to be adjusted but rather set to the specified length and left alone. Sometimes an unknowing mechanic will fiddle with the adjustment.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the quick reply. There is no spring in the fork but I did see the hole and wondered why it was there. I replaced the master and slave with new and checked the master length and it was right on at 134 mm. I bleed the system from the bottom and with the bleed fitting at the 12 o'clock position using a mytivac tool. After replacing these components the movement on the slave is also correct. The clutch pedal is lower than the brake by about 1/2 inch. The new master and slave did not seem to change anything. The clutch feels the same as with the old ones.
I did not see anything on the pivot arm weld nor is it loose. I cannot pull the pedal up. It seems tight. Does the weld bend on the inside?
 

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You need to change the rubber flex hose attached to the slave cylinder. They swell inside and can cause problems. I recommend the braided ones if your going to keep the car.
 

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I did not see anything on the pivot arm weld nor is it loose. I cannot pull the pedal up. It seems tight. Does the weld bend on the inside?
It breaks under the weld and usually cannot be seen from the 'outside'.

But 1/2" lower than the brake pedal & not being able to pull it up leads me to think it is not a broken pivot shaft weld.

It sounds like you did everything right. But it might be worth trying another bleed. This time try doing it with the pedal method. Have your trusted assistant pump the pedal a few times then hold the pedal down while you open the bleed screw.

Does the new clutch master cylinder sit in the same place as the old one? If not the 134mm push rod length might not be right. Is there a significant amount of free play at the pedal before you feel it begin to move the master cylinder piston? If so, you might want to try lengthening the push rod. There should be a small amount of free play (~ 3/8" - 1/2" at the pedal).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The free play is only about 3/4 in before the slave begins to move. Since the clutch hydraulic system is "non adjustable" as per the manual, my question is if the pedal normally needs to be pushed further down as the clutch components wear. In other words assuming that the hydraulic system is correct can I concluded that the clutch is almost worn out if it needs to be pressed to the floor and use all of the slave movement to disengage?
 

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Based on the symptoms, I wouldn't conclude that the clutch is worn out. Presumably it has 27k miles on it and doesn't slip. Bear in mind that Alfa clutches normally disengage/engage near the end of the pedal travel. You may indeed have an issue but I would confirm the behavior is abnormal before getting too far into it. Does the clutch disengage fully? Can you shift into first gear without a crunch?
 

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there is a vibration on the passenger side of the trans tunnel when pulling out and accelerating......At 40,000 miles the drive shaft flex disk was replaced together with the center support beading and rear trans mount.
Yes, but how long ago was that? Rubber parts fail with time, not miles. The vibration you describe could well be a failing giubo and/or rear transmission mount. It could also be a frozen U-joint.

Others have addressed the hydraulic issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks all for the comments and suggestions. The clutch does fully engage and disengage and I can still shift gears but if the pedal is not to the floor it will grind a bit. Also it must all the way to the floor down to the floor carpet. With a floor mat in on the drivers side it will not fully disengage. That is how close it is to the floor which is why I an concerned about it. We had to remove the drivers side floor mat to get that little extra travel.

With regard to the giubo and drive shaft, those components were replaced about 15 years ago. They look ok but I understand the issue about time vs mileage with rubber components. The one question I do have is with the support bearing and how much play should be in the drive shaft in that center support. Mine seems to be very loose. I can move the drive shaft around in the joint. Is that normal?
Thanks again everyone for you help!!
 

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Regarding the driveshaft support, it is normal to be able to wiggle the driveshaft around within the rubber support. With age, the rubber will deteriorate or become unglued from the metal support and often the shaft will clunk when starting out in first gear. Of course there shouldn't be any noticeable play between the shaft and the bearing. I just replaced the support and bearing on my '88 after 175k miles.

My bet is that if you bleed the clutch hydraulics again, you'll lose a little of the pedal travel required to disengage the clutch. It has been my experience that two bleeding sessions a few days apart are often necessary.
 

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Thanks all for the comments and suggestions. The clutch does fully engage and disengage and I can still shift gears but if the pedal is not to the floor it will grind a bit. Also it must all the way to the floor down to the floor carpet. With a floor mat in on the drivers side it will not fully disengage. That is how close it is to the floor which is why I an concerned about it. We had to remove the drivers side floor mat to get that little extra travel.
Well, that's not normal at all.

What happens if you adjust the master rod so the pedal is even with the brake at rest? I realize that may not match the Alfa spec, but maybe you have a slightly different MC or something.
 

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Jerry91

Agree with the braided line and notes above. I had a similar problem to yours with a 91 spider. The clutch pedal had to almost be pushed into the mat to get disengagement. I did two things: (1) Bled the system from the top. I did this by using a hand vacuum bleed tool and attached the vacuum hose to a fitting on an old modified reservoir cap. I could actually see bubbles come out of the clutch master cylinder in the brake fluid. This is a trick I learned years ago as a motorcycle mechanic. (2) I was able to reset the clutch pedal height by loosening the dowel pin that holds the pedal arm to the actuator arm shaft..Once the pin was loose I pulled up on the pedal and retightened everything. The Dowel pin pulled down much better and clutch pedal height was above the brake pedal. This fix has been good for 4 years.

Hope this helps.

Mike
 

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I know there is a measurement in the service book. But when I was working on Alfas and went to the factory training class. We were told to ignore the measurement and to set the clutch pedal height level with the brake pedal.
 

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I just remember a thread I came across recently with someone who was having problems with his clutch like the original poster after he had replaced his brake booster.

It turn out that on the aftermarket booster the clutch master mounting bracket was welded on further back (away from the firewall) on the booster then on the OEM ATE booster. It was a good deal further back. From the pictures I would guess at least half an inch.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Great suggestions! I will try both.

When bleeding the clutch master from the top using a vac system do you need to open the bleed valve on the slave and suck in fluid or do you keep it closed?

Also I have a little room between the clutch pivot arm and the firewall. It is only about 1/4" that I can adjust the master rod out. Should the pivot arm be that close to the fire wall?
 

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Great suggestions! I will try both.

When bleeding the clutch master from the top using a vac system do you need to open the bleed valve on the slave and suck in fluid or do you keep it closed?

Also I have a little room between the clutch pivot arm and the firewall. It is only about 1/4" that I can adjust the master rod out. Should the pivot arm be that close to the fire wall?
You want to make the clutch pedal inside the car level with the brake pedal. If the clutch pedal ends up a tad lower thats fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks all for the advice. After bleeding the system several times and adjusting the master rod until the pedals were even the clutch seems much better.
Thanks again!
 
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