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Old 02-11-2013, 07:45 PM   #1
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Default HELP! SPEC clutch install- Destroying release bearings

SPEC STAGE 3 clutch: destroying release bearings instantly in 1997 Miata

FIRST INSTANCE: I recently installed a SPEC stage 3 (yes, I'm now reading how horrible SPEC products are and only bought SPEC, let alone a "stage 3" because of the great deal... I thought I was receiving).
I installed a new release bearing (autozone special) and upon testing the clutch after installation, instant release bearing squeal with clutch pressed, then grinding.
Adjusted the clutch pedal - no help. Pulled the clutch out to find a mangled release bearing and grooves in the fingers of the pressure plate.

Had the grooves in the pressure plate fingers smoothed/filed so the marked metal wouldn't affect the new throwout bearing I would install.

SECOND INSTANCE: Ordered an Exedy/Daikin release bearing (hoping the previous occurrence was result of a cheap or defective Autozone bearing). Installed new bearing (greased all points the factory manual says to inside the tranny housing and on the slave), same exact noise instantly when clutch pedal is pressed. So, adjusted the clutch pedal, then I received absolutely no pedal pressure and no clutch function (engaged indefinitely). I assume the release bearing was pushed off of it's sleeve collar and onto the input shaft splines.
**UPDATE**
The release bearing was not pushed off of it's collar, the slave and rest of the hydraulics are in good working order, and the release bearing is very mangled just like the first one I installed. The very ends of the pressure plate fingers are bent and scored. The pressure plate is definitely the defective part/ culprit.


1. Is it possible that I have a defective pressure plate or a clutch disc that doesn't seat evenly?

2. The heavy-duty pressure plate is too much for my original hydraulics, specifically the slave cylinder?

3. Although the dowels and bolt holes of the pressure plate line up perfectly onto my flywheel, I was sold an incorrect pressure plate?

4. The pivot ball for the clutch release lever is not working properly? (everything worked correctly with OEM clutch)


My next step is to compare the SPEC pressure plate and disc with my OEM units. As well as replace my slave and install an extended stainless steel braided clutch line.

I'm just greatly confused at this annoying issue. I've thought of buying an FM Level 1 clutch and the new hydraulic components. I hate buying and throwing in parts without knowing what my initial problem is; not the most productive means of troubleshooting.

ANY advice, ideas, or know-how is greatly appreciated!

Last edited by beansrown; 02-16-2013 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:05 PM   #2
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I would definitely expect that a heavy clutch will expose weaknesses in your hydraulics. After installing my ACT Stage 1 (not nearly as heavy as yours), I discovered problems with my clutch master and clutch slave. I also installed a stainless steel flex line. The stock clutch masked all of these.

Note that it is possible to install the clutch disc reversed and still be able to bolt up the pressure plate. Did you do this by any chance?
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:07 PM   #3
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Buying an FM1 clutch is the correct answer.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by hornetball View Post
I would definitely expect that a heavy clutch will expose weaknesses in your hydraulics. After installing my ACT Stage 1 (not nearly as heavy as yours), I discovered problems with my clutch master and clutch slave. I also installed a stainless steel flex line. The stock clutch masked all of these.

Note that it is possible to install the clutch disc reversed and still be able to bolt up the pressure plate. Did you do this by any chance?
My issues might possible be the same as your hydraulic issues. Those components are cheap enough to replace, even for the preventative maintenance aspect if they're not the culprit!

It states "FW Side" on one side of the clutch disc, and the fact that the spline housing on the disc extend different amounts from one side of the disc compared to the other. One side is flush, or near flush with the disc surface, as the alternate side has a lip of sorts. I guess it's possible it could "work" either way AND SPEC marked the incorrect side!

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Buying an FM1 clutch is the correct answer.
You might very well be 100% correct. I feel like you are! I got such an awesome deal on the SPEC it was difficult not to buy it, but I guess I got what I paid for.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by beansrown View Post
I guess it's possible it could "work" either way AND SPEC marked the incorrect side!
You might also check that the spline on the clutch disc protrudes similar amounts on either side to the original disc. In the Fiero community there were a significant amount of incorrectly assembled SPEC discs. The splined hub was installed backwards in the disc and caused issues with the throw out bearing.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:10 AM   #6
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You might also check that the spline on the clutch disc protrudes similar amounts on either side to the original disc. In the Fiero community there were a significant amount of incorrectly assembled SPEC discs. The splined hub was installed backwards in the disc and caused issues with the throw out bearing.
Yes, and if it could happen to the Fiero community, it could happen to the Miata community.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:23 AM   #7
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Found a photo of MY clutch disc and the designated flywheel side.

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Old 02-12-2013, 12:13 PM   #8
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Looks correct. Raised part of the clutch disc (spring housings) should be away from the flywheel.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansrown View Post
yes, I'm now reading how horrible SPEC products are and only bought SPEC, let alone a "stage 3" because of the great deal... I thought I was receiving

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Old 02-12-2013, 02:21 PM   #10
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OP

Check the bearing support for wear. This is the part that the bearing slides in and out on. I have replaced many on all makes of cars. They wear a groove, which causes them to side load the bearing, and also makes it sticky, which can keep the bearing applying pressure on the fingers.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:45 PM   #11
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I didn't see any wear on the bearing support portion of the input shaft, but I'll check again when I do indeed pull the tranny for a third time.

I did notice that both new release bearings appeared to have the center I.D. portion that touches the bearing support sleeve, to be a tad offset. I misplaced the OEM release bearing, so I couldn't compare.

For instance, this photo example: (although it might be deceiving because of the 3/4 view)

This is what I noticed at a straight-on view. However, I added a tad of grease to the surface and moved the release fork to check movement prior to the second install. Movement seemed smooth and without any bind or hesitation.

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Old 02-12-2013, 02:47 PM   #12
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I have a feeling the issue is the PP.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:51 PM   #13
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I have a feeling the issue is the PP.
I agree. My money is on that POS PP or my 16 year old hydraulics. I might as well replace all of the above.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:52 PM   #14
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Am I the only person in history who is not having issues with a SPEC clutch?? *Knocks on wood*
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:54 PM   #15
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Apparently so.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:56 PM   #16
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These threads scare the crap out of me!


I am on my second throw-out bearing however it's 100% my fault. Left the original attached to the transmission and left the transmission standing up on my back patio for 8 months...
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:00 PM   #17
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Modern art bird bath?
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:25 PM   #18
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lol.. You could say that.

The #4 conrod ventilated my block and I didn't feel like messing with the car for almost a year.
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:33 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beansrown View Post
I recently installed a SPEC stage 3 (yes, I'm now reading how horrible SPEC products are and only bought SPEC, let alone a "stage 3" because of the great deal... I thought I was receiving).
You could give me a spec clutch for free and I would not consider it a great deal. The only great deal clutch wise on the market for Miata's is the FM1 clutch. After that comes ACT and then 949 Twin-Disk. The extra expense of a well known clutch is worth it so that you do not have to pull the trans multiple times.
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:36 PM   #20
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put a brand new spec stage 2 clutch on my car when I first got my turbo on. Did recommended break in procedure. Within 20 miles of said procedure had slipping clutch. they wouldn't warranty. put exedy stage 2 clutch on. worked fine.

spec sucks.
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