The Esprit Clutch is one of those jobs that needs doing at least once in the normal life of an Esprit. The clutch takes quite a bit of abuse from both 4 and 8 cylinder Esprits. Signs of a worn clutch in my case was some slippage when accelerating with plenty of torque. This was most evident using the high torque chip. I decided to change my clutch after finding out that a worn clutch can damage the flywheel and those are £700 each if they can't be skimmed!
Due to LEW's Esprit running a little more than standard on some occasions, we decided to go for a fully uprated clutch. It's not a competition clutch, but the pressure plate is uprated 35% and the clutch itself is a higher spec than the original. This was supplied by PUK Esprit Racing in Germany. Delivery was quick and easy and we even paid via paypal.
This wasn't a job we were intending on doing, as it's rated by Lotus at 6 to 10 hours labour. So I decided to give the job to PNM Engineering. After talking to Pete, he made the job sound very easy, which made us feel a little better. We left them a camera to take some pictures of the install for the site, so we could see roughly what it involves. PNM can do the whole job, supplying a standard pressure plate with an uprated clutch.
It is also good time to look for oil seal leaks in the bellhousing and gearbox mounts are prone to cracking, which can be easily checked during a clutch replacement. The reverse sensor also has a habit of breaking. Clutch pedal travel is also important to set this up correctly, the precise pedal travel is documented in the service manual.
This is going to be a job for the specialists (unless your brave) taking 6-10 hours.
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The pictures below are for a reference only, and the full installation will not be explained
You will need the following parts:
I new clutch
You will need the following tools:
A good specialist
My clutch came all the way from Germany, but only took 3 days. This is a Valeo clutch with Valeo components. This one has been made up to provide more strength than the standard one.
The boot floor is removed to gain access to the gearbox. This sits behind the engine and reach back under the boot floor.
You can see from above that the gearbox is disconnected from the flywheel to gain access to the clutch. Looks like it involves undoing some very rusty old bolts
Once the gearbox is loose, it's pulled back slightly to reveal the clutch. You can see the rusty back on it in the above right picture.
The clutch can now be removed. You can see the difference between the clutches from the picture above. Both pieces are higher spec than the original. On the right is the flywheel. This is a Renault unit, but is still very expensive.
If your flywheel is damaged, you can get it skimmed for a fraction on the price of a new one. Mine wasn't damaged luckily. The new uprated clutch is mated to the flywheel. Now it all needs putting back together.
It appears our clutch wasn't that badly worn, it does seem however that the pressure plate had worn, which is probably why we were getting some slippage under all that torque. With a clutch change your not going to find a huge difference in how the car performs (unless it wasn't working). The uprated clutch has made the pedal feel more springy, but not particularly any stiffer. The gearchange was a little stiffer for the first few trips, but seems to be returning to the way it was.
All in all it's not a big problem to get your clutch changed. It's expensive, but not as much as you think (depending on where you go) and hopefully you'll only ever do it once in your ownership time. The basic shelf life should be in excess of 30,000 miles even with hard use, normal use you should see 50,000 miles. There's also a choice of what you have put in, with different prices to suit different budgets.
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