Gear slipping, rough shifting, and a stiff clutch pedal can all mean part of the clutch is going out. When that happens, you’ll need a diagnostics check and potentially replace part or all of the clutch.
For manual-transmission vehicles, the throwout bearing or release bearing is a common problem. And, if you’re hearing throwout bearing noise like grinding when you use the shift, it’s an even bigger sign you have to replace the bearing.
Here, the average cost of replacing a throwout bearing is around $500. However, that can range between $100 and $1,200. Here, you’re paying $30-$540 in parts. The rest is labor and will depend on where you’re located and what kind of technician you go to.
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Throwout Bearing Replacement Costs*
The cost of replacing a throwout bearing can vary quite a bit based on the make and model of your vehicle. For example, in many vehicles, you have to drop the transmission. This means that labor can be a significant cost factor.
The following chart details estimates for replacing the release bearing in popular vehicles.
|Mazda Mx-5 Miata
|Dodge Ram 1500
|Volkswagen Golf GTI
*These cost estimates are based on pricing and quotes from December 2022. Pricing may change at any time. Please use this research as a starting point for your own.
Throwout Bearing Price Factors
Most of the cost of replacing a throwout bearing is the cost of labor. For example, if you go to a dealership, you can expect to pay as much as $145 per hour to repair your clutch.
However, there are other cost factors as well and some of them can be significant.
Cost of the Part
The “average” cost of a clutch throwout bearing is about $80. However, parts range from around $20 for an aftermarket part to upwards of $150 for original equipment manufacturer parts from the dealership.
Here, you can choose to pay for any kind of part that you want. Most have pros and cons and clutch bearings are produced at different types of quality.
However, if you choose an aftermarket part, it’s very unlikely that your dealership will install it for you. This means you’ll have to decide based on where you want the work done.
In most cases, you’ll also have to talk to your mechanic before buying a part, as they may be unwilling to install something not purchased from their shop. And, many mechanics will be willing to order OEM parts for you.
Most manual transmissions require that you drop the transmission in order to access the clutch assembly. Here, the clutch bearings connect the flywheel and the clutch – meaning you have to disconnect the drive shaft to even access the bearings.
However, some vehicles allow you to access and remove the clutch without dropping the transmission. The BMC Mini and the Peugeot 203 are both good examples of this engine setup.
In addition, some trucks use a clutch cover pan, which means that you can remove the gearbox and simply slide it back to access the clutch.
In either case, you can drop the labor involved with replacing a clutch bearing down to under an hour.
Unfortunately, most vehicles will require that you decouple the transmission, drop it, and then access the clutch from there, which can take 4 hours in a professional shop with tools.
Condition of the Clutch
Most of the cost of replacing a throwout bearing is the cost of dropping the transmission. For that reason, most mechanics recommend replacing the clutch at the same time.
In addition, if the internal or external slave cylinders are damaged or old, it’s a good idea to replace those at the same time. And, if you’re replacing the clutch, you’ll also want to look at the condition of the drive, input, and output shaft seals and the flywheel.
While it’s unlikely you’d have to replace everything, doing so all at once can save you considerably on replacing those parts in the near future.
However, seals only have to be replaced if they are showing signs of wear or are leaking. But, with some costing as little as $5, doing the work while the transmission is out can save you a lot.
Cost of Labor
The cost of labor varies considerably based on your location and where you go. Here, you’ll pay a national average rate of about $95 per hour.
In practice, that changes between $15 at small shops and goes to about $158 at dealerships. And, in big cities, it’s not uncommon to pay $210+. So, the total rate you pay will vary a great deal.
In most cases, you can expect replacing a throwout bearing to take between 1 and 4 hours. This averages out to about 3 hours for most vehicles. In some, it can take longer.
In addition, you’ll also have to pay the cost of parts, shop fees (10-25% of the total bill), and if you’re leaving your car overnight, lot fees ($5-$25 per night).
What Is A Throwout Bearing & How Does It Work?
The throwout bearing sits between the clutch and the engine. When you press the clutch pedal, the throwout bearing engages, sliding forward on the transmission input shaft and releasing the clutch disk, pressure plate, and engine flywheel.
The result is that the engine and transmission are temporarily disengaged, allowing you to shift gears or run the engine without the wheels turning.
The bearing works using a rotating mechanism that responds to the clutch pedal.
When you depress the pedal, it extends the clutch fork, which pushes the springs on the bearing. Then, the inner rotating part of the bearing rotates, releasing the drive shaft and flywheel.
4 Signs Of A Bad Throwout Bearing
It can be difficult to tell the symptoms of a bad throwout bearing from most clutch or flywheel failures.
However, you can look for the following signs if you think your clutch or the bearing might be going out.
1. Noises from the Clutch
If your clutch is grinding or scraping or the engine grinds when you change gears, it’s a good sign that the clutch or the bearing isn’t doing its job.
Here, a completely failed clutch release bearing might result in your engine acting as though you haven’t engaged the clutch when you go to shift gears. That could mean hard grinding and metal-on-metal sounds or your engine stopping when you try to switch gears.
Alternatively, you could get grinding and engine halts as the bearing fails to release. This can be quite loud. However, it’s always a sign to either inspect the clutch yourself or take it in for a diagnostics checkup.
Noises from the clutch or transmission are always bad and should always be looked at as quickly as possible to prevent permanent damage.
2. Difficulty Shifting
If your clutch release is sticking or not working as it should, you’ll likely have difficulty shifting through gears. That can mean grinding or other engine noises when you attempt to shift gears. It can also mean the stick shift is physically difficult to move.
In either case, if it’s harder to shift gears than before or if it’s suddenly very easy to shift and your car shifts when you’re driving, you should get your car looked at.
The issue could come from several parts of the transmission system or the clutch but is always a sign that you have to do something and quickly.
3. Stiff Clutch Pedal
If your clutch pedal is very firm or stiff, it may mean that you have a bearing issue. However, the same problem can be caused by air and fluid pressure issues, the clutch fork, or the clutch itself.
In each case, it’s also always a sign to inspect the clutch and the clutch pedal to figure out the source of the issue.
4. Seized Clutch
If the clutch release bearing fully breaks down, the clutch could seize. That means you might be stuck in gear, your clutch might not work at all, and it could even prevent your engine from engaging with the transmission.
This could be a clutch, a driveshaft, a flywheel, or a fluid issue. Whatever the cause, it’s important to inspect the vehicle right away.
Can You Drive With A Bad Throwout Bearing?
It’s never a good idea to drive with a bad throwout bearing. This is important because the bearing allows you to shift gears and engages the drive shaft with the transmission.
If the bearing goes out, your vehicle could perform unpredictably. It could also seize up, randomly shift through gears, or throw out the transmission.
If you have to drive with a bad throwout bearing, make sure you only drive to a technician for repair. Or, if you do, drive slowly and stick to one gear rather than shifting through.
Of course, your clutch throwout also disengages when you idle and park – so you could still have issues.
Throwout Bearing Replacement Process (16 Steps)
Replacing a throwout bearing can vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle. For example, some cars allow you to remove the drive shaft without fully dropping the transmission. In this case, replacing the throwout bearing will be easier and cheaper.
However, in most cases, the process looks something like this:
- Socket and ratchet set
- Wrench set (usually box)
- Screwdriver set (usually flathead)
- Putty knife
- Clutch bearing puller
- Clutch grease
- Floor jack + jack stands
- Ratchet straps
- Panel or wide piece of wood
- Park your car on a flat and level surface. Turn off the engine and remove the key from the ignition.
- Jack up the car and stabilize it with jack stands. Remove the floor jack.
- Slightly loosen the transmission bolts. These can normally be loosened with a ratchet set. However, they may be stuck enough to require penetrating fluid. If so, soak the bolts for at least 20 minutes before attempting to loosen them.
- Put a piece of wood on top of the floor jack and jack it up just under the transmission. Ever so slightly, jack the transmission up. Secure the transmission using ratchet straps.
- Remove the bolts holding the clutch bellhouse to the engine.
- Remove the transmission bolts.
- Slowly lower the transmission to slightly reduce pressure on the input shaft, then, push the transmission slightly back. Have someone disengage the clutch while you slide the input shaft back.
- Loosen the mounting bolts.
- Support the pressure plate and remove the rest of the clutch bolts.
- Remove the clutch and flywheel.
- Remove the dust cover/boot from the withdrawal lever on the housing.
- Use a pair of pliers to remove the retainer spring clip.
- Remove the withdrawal lever.
- Use a puller to remove the bearing. Depending on your vehicle you’ll need a two- or three-jaw puller.
- Clean the area and press the new bearing into place, putting pressure on the center of the bearing race. Apply grease to the recesses and pivot points.
- Re-assemble everything in reverse, taking time to clean and inspect each part as you go. If something is damaged or shows signs of wear, replacing it now will save you the effort of dropping the transmission again in the future.
How To Save Money (Tips)
Replacing a throwout bearing can be a costly process because it takes a lot of time to drop the transmission.
The following tips should help you save money.
- Consider DIY. Dropping a transmission is hard work and you’ll have to be extremely careful with your jack. If you spill the transmission, it’s unlikely you’re getting it back into the car without professional help. Therefore, if you don’t have the right tools, it can be a lot more expensive to do the work yourself.
- Do more work at once. Taking the time to refinish the flywheel, inspect the clutch for damage, and replace seals can save you that labor in the near future. That won’t reduce the cost of your clutch throwout replacement, but it will reduce the total cost of maintenance over time, because the largest part of the cost is still the labor.
- Practice preventive maintenance with good driving habits, never ride the clutch, and avoid changing gears when you don’t have to.
If your throwout bearing is going out, it’s a serious issue that could wreck your transmission if you don’t fix it quickly. However, with costs averaging around $500, it’s not a cheap repair. For that reason, you may want to compare throwout bearing replacement quotes before choosing a technician. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re getting per quote and ensuring your technician has insurance, a good understanding of your vehicle, and good policies to protect your car in case something goes wrong is always more important than getting the cheapest rate.
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