Pressing Clutch Pedal Creates "Air" Noise in '04 Tiburon
March 18, 2011 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I have a 2004 Hyundai Tiburon GT V6 Special Edition ( with 53k miles. Recently I noticed an odd sound when I press the clutch pedal. The best way to describe the sound is that it's very much like the rushing air sound you hear when a window is opened. The sound does vary just a bit in pitch depending on how far the clutch is pressed, and the sound stops when the clutch pedal is let back out. I'd swear it sounds like a hole being opened and closed. The sound is very subtle and can't be heard when the radio is up, so I don't know how long it's been there. I first noticed it several months ago and it hasn't changed since then, neither getting worse nor better. As best as I can determine, the sound is coming from the area underneath the pedal. The transmission seems to be working perfectly and I don't abuse the clutch in any way. Someone suggested that it could be the throwout bearing, but I've watched clips of that sound on-line and it doesn't quite match what I'm hearing. Any ideas or suggestions?
posted by Jamesonian to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
Looking at a photo of the clutch master cylinder, it looks like the pedal acts directly on the back of it, and if it was somehow loose you would be potentially opening and closing an airspace between the engine bay and the interior where you might hear a noise like that. I would guess this is extremely unlikely, but check those two bolts. You should also be able to have a friend press the clutch while you watch from the engine bay to see if the master cylinder moves.

Much more likely: my guess is you're hearing the "roar" of a worn-out clutch release bearing. Worn out bearings can sound like what you describe, and the noise would only be present when the clutch is depressed. This, unfortunately, is a job involving relatively inexpensive parts and a lot of labor.

(I have no connection with the parts place I linked the photos from, they were just convenient, your local parts place or dealer is probably the best source if you're going to do this yourself.)
posted by maxwelton at 1:44 PM on March 18, 2011

If depressing the clutch makes a noise like the sound of a small hole opening and closing, how does the little gasket/rubber thingee the clutch pedal linkage goes through look? The linkage probably travels through the firewall into the engine compartment and passes through, well, a little hole. The first thing that I'd check is if the upholstery or floor mat or whatever the clutch linkage passes through on its way to the engine compartment has become misaligned or knocked into a weird position. Just look under the dash and depress and release the clutch a few times and see if anything opens up. If so, hooray!

You can now jiggle around the floor mat or upholstery and solve the problem. Or decide to ignore it since it's not indicative of a serious problem.

If that's not it, bummer, but you'll have at least ruled out one possible cause.
posted by stet at 6:23 PM on March 18, 2011

So when you're holding the clutch in, it makes a bit of a whirring or rubbing noise? I don't know if it's a bad thing or not, but my Honda has been doing that for the better part of a decade. Seems not to be an issue.
posted by wierdo at 7:18 PM on March 18, 2011

I'm with stet, I suspect the clutch throwout bearing.
posted by bz at 12:46 PM on March 19, 2011

If it is indeed a worn clutch release bearing, is this something that needs immediate attention or can it wait until more critical clutch work is needed?
posted by Jamesonian at 4:08 PM on March 19, 2011

The failure mode for a release bearing is a clutch that no longer works; it's not going to damage anything that won't be replaced in a clutch job. So possible inconvenience, but not a multi-thousand dollar disaster. I would just keep an ear on it and if it begins to sound worse anticipate the clutch job.

Incidentally, the biggest cause for release bearing failure is sitting at a stoplight with your foot on the clutch. This is also not great for the thrust bearings on the crankshaft. Make your use of the clutch brief and smooth, and put the car in neutral at lights.
posted by maxwelton at 10:46 PM on March 19, 2011

Yes, it's most likely the clutch release bearing. Almost certainly, in fact. It is a high frequency grindy/squeaky noise that is modified acoustically by the bellhousing (the metal box it sits in) that is usually caused by the wear on the bearing causing residual heat to melt out the lubrication. It's then a vicious cycle of wear until the thing dies. It will not be any 'hole opening up' by pressing the pedal.

It can cause a lot of problems if you don't get this fixed. If the bearing fails in a major way (which it will do in time - it will break apart and fly around inside the bellhousing but go no further) this may cause big issues in fixing it as this can cause the clutch itself to jam onto the input shaft of the gearbox. Lots of labour costs, there. It can also damage other components, but it won't take the gearbox or engine with it. I've had it before and it wasn't fun. In addition, your car will be disabled when this fails and could be costly just through extra towing fees and inconvenience. It's not worth the risk and it will only get worse, not better or even stabilise.

Get your car to a mechanic and replace the full clutch - friction plate, pressure plate and release bearing. The labour involved makes it uneconomical to replace just one (and have to repeat the job later) and the release bearing certainly does need urgent to reasonably timely attention. It's just too much hassle to have it fail and there may be little or no warning.

Also, don't ride the clutch. Minimise the time you spend with your foot on it - either resting it or between gear changes. When at a stop for lights or traffic, put the gearbox in neutral and take your foot off the clutch. Don't sit there with your foot hard down on the clutch waiting for the lights. This will increase the life of your clutch.
posted by Brockles at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2011

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