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Discussion Starter #1
My latest question about the Elise: Is a burning clutch smell relatively common?

I have 31 years experience driving manual transmissions. I have never owned a car with an automatic transmission. I have replaced 2 clutches in 500,000 miles of driving. I think I'm pretty good at driving a manual. That said, I have driven two Lotus Elises and have found that it is very very easy to create a burning clutch smell during driving conditions that require slight feathering of the clutch, mostly during uphill starts. I live in a very hilly section of Ann Arbor, and my driveway is very steep. I find that I smell the clutch burning on a sporadic but consistent basis. It's very alarming, yet nothing I can do seems to mitigate this condition. I dont think it's my particular car as I have observed this on the first Elise that I drove. I recognize that the clutch engages at the far end of the throw and drive appropriately for this condition.

I appreciate your feedback on my concern.
 

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Sigh.....i meant to search the forum before I wrote my post. Only now did I remember it so I've done it backwards. It appears what I am experiencing is normal. I'd still like to hear comments on this for those inclined. By the way, my clutches feels great under power...no slipping at all.
 

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I haven't experienced this burning smell in my 10+ yrs of ownership unless I was slipping the clutch. I live in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and drive/stop on hilly roads constantly and don't experience this. In downtown Seattle, which is known for scaring manual drivers with steep hills and stop lights in city traffic....I haven't had it happen.

I will occasionally get fuel/exhaust smells but not a burning clutch. It looks like you have searched and pulled up some info on it. Interesting and hope others chime in. I have over 70k on my Elise and still original clutch. It is showing subtle signs of going as I will get some slip at 70mph freeway speeds and I gun it in 5th/6th.
 
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No clutch smell here. I live in the hills and have a steep driveway that I have to back up and out of.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Odd. When I searched the forum after my post I find many, many people have the same experience I have. I wonder if there is an upgrade I can do when my clutch eventually needs replacing.
 

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Sigh.....i meant to search the forum before I wrote my post. Only now did I remember it so I've done it backwards. It appears what I am experiencing is normal. I'd still like to hear comments on this for those inclined. By the way, my clutches feels great under power...no slipping at all.
Normal? Depends on how you define 'normal'. I've owned 5 Eliges, and know probably a dozen and a half guys or more who own/have owned. I never experienced, and never heard anyone complain about, a burning clutch smell.

Can't say I did a search for it here, but have been checking in here daily (under this and an earlier user id) since 2004, when it was known as EliseTalk, and never heard of it being something common.

Maybe from guys who abuse/stress their cars drivetrains, but I've never heard of this as being 'normal.'
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Normal? Depends on how you define 'normal'. I've owned 5 Eliges, and know probably a dozen and a half guys or more who own/have owned. I never experienced, and never heard anyone complain about, a burning clutch smell.

Can't say I did a search for it here, but have been checking in here daily (under this and an earlier user id) since 2004, when it was known as EliseTalk, and never heard of it being something common.

Maybe from guys who abuse/stress their cars drivetrains, but I've never heard of this as being 'normal.'
If you did a search here, you'd see multiple threads on the topic, from people who are clearly stating that they don't abuse their clutches. Many people follow up to the OP's and corroborate with their own experiences. It doesn't seem that rare. My Elise has only 8k miles on it so I can't imagine the clutch is in that bad of shape, but who knows?
 

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I've owned the car for 6 years. I live in a very hilly area, my house is actually on the side of a mountain so my driveway is pretty steep. I've never smelled a burning clutch on my Elise, that I can think of. It's a stock clutch and I find it really easy to modulate. I've had other cars (looking at you Aston Martin) that it's really easy to cook the clutch either because there's alot of mass in the drivetrain or it's hard to find the engagement point consistently, but if everything is in good order, you shouldn't smell burning clutch in a stock clutch Elise.

Which makes me wonder if it's truly the clutch that you're smelling. Does your car still have all the correct heat shielding around the exhaust system? Hot fiberglass can be pretty rank. Or maybe you have a dragging brake caliper? A fluid dripping on the exhaust?
 

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I've had mine 3 years and driven it just under 40,000 miles. In that time I've only smelled the clutch twice - and both of those times I was really standing on the gas from 2nd gear up to 100mph or so. I recall reading that other people were saying that it was common for the clutch to slip when really hammering the gas. I found that odd because never heard of that being a 'common' thing with any car before lol. That being said -- I'm am one of those guys that can get a clutch to last foreeever compared to most people. The clutch in my car had been replaced two days before I bought the car, and 40,000 miles later it's still the exact same. I've put well over 100,000 miles on a clutch in several Fiat X1/9's and more than that in a couple of 1st gen MR2's. But I must say the couple of times I've smelled the clutch in my Lotus it made me wonder why. I don't do the drag-race bit where ya rev up the engine then take off - only done that just a couple of times - as I assume that is the most damaging thing one can do to a car. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts before it starts slipping. IF mine was slipping at 70mph if I hit the gas in 5th/6th gear as Mobius97 is experiencing it would drive me nuts and I'd be down at the shop getting a new one. Anyway for the moment you might be able to avoid the problem by tinkering around how you actually get the car up the driveway - maybe try putting on the emergency brake, then letting the clutch out, and as soon as the car starts to roll forward, take off the emergency brake... if you pull that off correctly it should be easier on the clutch and you can let up on the peddle quicker. (just don't smash into your house lol).
 

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Neither my "05 Elise or '07 Exige experience a burning clutch at all.

My Subie STI however is a whole other story : (

I find the clutch in both Lotuses to work very well.

Henry
 

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IF mine was slipping at 70mph if I hit the gas in 5th/6th gear as Mobius97 is experiencing it would drive me nuts and I'd be down at the shop getting a new one.
Yeah it's showing some slight signs of slippage when it is cold weather out. Probably due to contracting and less material on the plate. It doesn't happen every time and if it does...it does so under those circumstances. I notice, hear and see the slight quick 1000 or so RPM jump. Typical signs ya know that are exasperated when it is cold out. Now that its warmer I haven't really experienced it. I do need to get it replaced but its been low priority seeing that, unfortunately, I've only put around 1500 miles on her in the last 2.5yrs.

Even with that...no burnt clutch smell! :grin2:
 

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Yeah it's showing some slight signs of slippage when it is cold weather out. Probably due to contracting and less material on the plate. It doesn't happen every time and if it does...it does so under those circumstances. I notice, hear and see the slight quick 1000 or so RPM jump. Typical signs ya know that are exasperated when it is cold out. Now that its warmer I haven't really experienced it. I do need to get it replaced but its been low priority seeing that, unfortunately, I've only put around 1500 miles on her in the last 2.5yrs.

Even with that...no burnt clutch smell! :grin2:
Ahh ok. I daily drive mine - if I was putting that few of miles on the car I wouldn't worry about it either until it came time to sell the car....it sounds like it it pretty minor.
 

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I have a race clutch on a super charmed car...it’s tricky Reversing and taking off in first...if I don’t release it just right I smell clutch?
 
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