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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My clutch has started slipping when I am about halfway home from work.

I drive my Spider every day to work and back. It is about 15 miles one way with a 50/50 mix of freeway and surface street driving. In the morning, the clutch works as it should. However, on the way home, the clutch starts getting soft and slips when I accelerate. The next morning, it is OK again.

Recently, I went on a longer drive of about 100 miles one way. I drove around town a bit before I got on the freeway and the clutch started slipping a bit. I kept going anyway and I noticed that, after driving down the freeway for a while, the clutch stopped slipping when I accelerated. The problem resurfaced after driving in stop-and-go traffic again.

I think that the hydraulics are functioning since I can shift into and out of each gear without problems. What do you think is causing this?
 

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Hi Ron,
It is time for a new clutch. Clutches operate with pressure and friction. They wear out over time, just like brake pads.
 

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1966-2013
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2cents:

If it's doing it after an amount of driving, then clearing up after the car sits and cools, I'd be putting changing the fluid and checking lines for routing near anything hot on the list.

Old fluid = high water content = low boiling point + routing near heat source (like the clutch MS hanging right over the manifold...) = boiling/overheating fluid = crap operation just like brake fade when they get hot.
 

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You didn't mention how many miles were on the clutch. With reasonable driving you should get maybe 125k or more out of an Alfa clutch. That's been my norm for all the Alfas I've owned through the years (135k miles on the 91 164S so far).

With abnormal driving, it can go in 5000 miles. Once witnessed a spider driver leaving the dealer after having the clutch replaced. Mechanic said, "yup, he always revs the engine that high going down the driveway. Comes in every 6 months to have the clutch replaced".
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies.

Mike - True enough. With other vehicles I've owned, though, when the clutch started slipping, it slipped all of the time and gradually got worse.

Del - The clutch has about 30K miles on it and I am responsible for the last 500 or so (odometer doesn't work). It is possible that the PO (my sister & BIL) was, shall we say, a bit enthusiastic about her driving and could have used up the clutch disc at an accelerated rate.

Tifosi and Alfacliff - I suspected the hydraulics at first, but I couldn't get past the the fact that the disc itself was actually slipping part of the time. Changing the hydraulic fluid is so simple, cheap, and easy that I finally quit trying to over-analyze the situation and just did it last night. The difference in the feel of the clutch was immediately noticed and impressive. Clutch engagement is now more positive and somewhat less vague. The vagueness(?) was not noticeable to me before, but its absence is palpable.

I took the Spider for a test drive to try and induce clutch slippage. I drove for about 45 minutes up and down through the gears in stop-and-go traffic and fifth-gear cruising but I did not experience the slip problem. However, with the loss of vagueness (I'm beginning to like that word), I can now feel that the clutch is worn, though it has some life left in it yet.

Thanks everybody!
 

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On the next of 'simple checks' you might want to check the actuator rod length at the MS (picture w/dimensions around here somewhere on the board) and the actual throw of the fork at the trans. (.43 - .47" as measured from the center of the ball on the slave where it meets the fork)

If the actuator rod is too long, (not usually relevant to a slip problem, but nice to know it's correct), or the fork throw is too much, it can lead to a bit of slippage due to the slave not fully releasing the fork when you come up off the pedal. (basically feathering the clutch, all the time)

You might want to crawl up underneath and remove the lower guard form the fornt of the trans to see if theres any oil coming form the rear main into the bell housing and helping wet down the clutch. (the reason I had to replace my clutch recently)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks again, Tifosi. I checked the throw at the slave cylinder and it was within specs. I'll check the master cylinder and the bell housing this weekend. I have a feeling that I'll end up rebuilding the entire hydraulic system and replacing the clutch assembly within the next 6 months.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Follow-Up

Well, my clutch worked OK after changing the hydraulic fluid - for a while. After about a week, the slipping returned. At that point, I was sure that I was going to have to do a complete clutch rebuild - including the hydraulics. So, I started planning when I could set aside the time to pull the tranny and I also started putting the money together for parts.

I decided to rebuild the hydraulics first, then tackle the clutch itself. I replaced the master and slave cylinders and the flexible hose. I didn't bother with rebuild kits, I just bought complete units and installed them.

I took the Spider out for a test drive and, once again, could not get the clutch to slip. I wouldn't let myself get too excited because of my previous exxperience, but I was pleased that everything was working properly. Well, it has been a couple of months of daily driving now and the clutch still doesn't slip.

So, apparently, All I needed was to rebuild the hydraulic system! What a relief.
 
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