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I owned several manual cars prior to my Elise, but the ownership were short enough such that I never had to replace the clutch. I think I might own the Elise longer than those previously owned car, so I am just wondering. How do you know when it's time to replace clutch? What are the symptoms?

Thanks.
 

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Well the most common sign is when you accelerate in a high gear 3 or 4 and the rpms go up but not the speed. This usually happens early on when mods are added to increase power beyond the ability of the stock pressure plate. This is known as clutch slippage.
 

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^Thats when your clutch is gone. You press the gas and see rpms rise, and the car takes a little bit till the car goes...replace immediately.

When the clutch is starting to go, you will notice that the petal will not engage at the same point while shifting. You become used to the engagement point slowing rising, so if you jump in a friend's lotus and notice a difference, your clutch is going!
 

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Yep, or put it in a high gear at low speed and floor it (i.e. 6th gear @ 40 mph). If the RPMs rise and you don't accelerate then your clutch is bad. It'll probably smell like something burning after you do that also.
 

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OK, I get some of those symptoms simply from my throttle lagging because my car is (somehow) running rich (and lean at the same time, go figure) because of my poorly set-up de-cat. How do I tell if it's the clutch or the throttle lagging? Would I just KNOW? Would I definitely feel the difference and know something's wrong?
 

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The pusher plate is fragile on the Elise, and can brake easily on fixing bolt to the flywheel. In fact, it is 6 bolts, and 3 locations are fragiles du to the the manufacturing process. To feel it, it is quite wild, when you shift at high rpm, sometime you can feel like the pedal pressure changing during the pedal pressing, and looking like not usual.
 

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If your car is an '05 and you track it alot, just replace it, it's probably at least 50% gone. If it's a pampered street car and less than three years old and it's still got a normal engagement point, you're probably alright.
 

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OK, I get some of those symptoms simply from my throttle lagging because my car is (somehow) running rich (and lean at the same time, go figure) because of my poorly set-up de-cat. How do I tell if it's the clutch or the throttle lagging? Would I just KNOW? Would I definitely feel the difference and know something's wrong?
There is a huge difference between a slipping clutch and throttle lag.

With "throttle lag", you press the throttle and nothing much happens and the car starts to accelerate (it may take a while).

With a clutch slipping, you press the throttle, and the engine immediately speeds up (increase in RPMs) but the car doesn't immediately start to accelerate. If you pack off on the throttle, the RPMs drop back down. We're not talking small changes here - for instance, you are at 3,000 RPM, and give it gas, and the tach goes to 5,000 RPM right now but the speedometer doesn't quickly change. Then if you back off, the RPMs drop back down to 3,000 RPM.

You can simulate a slipping clutch at any time - next time you start off from a light, only let the clutch out half way - the engine will scream, and the car won't do much of anything.
 

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The engagement point is fairly telling as well. Mine only has about an inch of real pedal now, the rest is just air. Mine is pretty much gone and I'm just waiting for a weekend to do the work.
 

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A small week-end to do the job, you will see, it is a nightmare to work on the Elise...

Dismounting everything...

have fun
 
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