BMWs are a popular vehicle; ranging from a mid-size family sedan to a sporty coupe, these versatile, stylish cars provide a wealth of opportunity. The German love for reliability holds true, and the well-engineered BMW will always be there for you. Consistency, attractiveness, styling, and power come together to provide the perfect car for all scenarios.
However, regular wear and tear can—and of course does—occur, even in these gems. One area that can be problematic is the clutch. While a bad clutch can be an issue in many cars, it’s particularly important in a BMW. When driving a manual, a bad clutch can imperil portions of the rest of the car, which you want to avoid when driving an expensive and well-engineered car.
When dealing with a potential clutch issue, most car owners and even some mechanics will immediately jump to a clutch replacement. This isn’t always the case, and only some complaints actually need the pricey repair. The most common complaints that drivers have about their clutches are: even with the clutch pedal pushed down the shifter won’t move into gear; the clutch pedal has to be pressed to the floor in order to shift gears; the clutch pedal itself feels loose or unattached; there is a knocking or shifting sound when the car is in neutral; the engine begins to rev up faster than expected in any given gear; the car doesn’t move immediately after the clutch pedal is released, or the vehicle doesn’t move at all; there is any kind of strange noise when the clutch is pressed; or there is a vibration of the pedal when the clutch is engaged.
While all of these are real problems and do need mechanical attention, it’s likely that only the second half of the list requires a clutch replacement. The others are caused not by clutch disc wear, but generally by some kind of fault in the hydraulic system, or an issue with bearings or gears in the transmission.
Any kind of poor performance on the part of the clutch is always going to impair the ride—and therefore your enjoyment of the vehicle. This is a particularly large problem in a BMW, because the high-quality ride and comfort is compromised if your clutch is not working correctly.
The best way to avoid clutch problems is to reduce clutch wear. Wear only occurs during the time the clutch is being engaged and disengaged; the rest of the time it’s spinning at the same speed as the flywheel, and no friction is caused. If the clutch is engaged or disengaged suddenly or harshly, the clutch wears out a lot faster, so it’s necessary to disengage/engage the clutch pedal gently and carefully. This is especially prevalent in changing to first gear, as that’s where a majority of severe clutch wear occurs.
Other causes of clutch wear include excess weight—like pulling a trailer—and constantly going up and down hills, as more acceleration increases friction.
As with all car-related issues, the best way to make sure that your BMW will remain in tip-top shape is by following the maintenance schedule rigorously and taking it into the shop if there are any questions. Most clutches are designed to last around 75,000 miles, so with careful use a clutch replacement should rarely be necessary, provided you take responsible and safe care with the vehicle.
* BMW M2 image credit goes to: teddyleung.