Punto clutch problem

Fiat Punto SX 1108cc petrol (UK 'M' plate). Hydraulic clutch actuation.
It's my father's car, but I first noticed this problem while driving it a week or so ago. I'm aware of the 'notchy' first gear issues with Puntos and
although I'd noticed it with this car, it wasn't much of a problem. But then it started to get worse quite quickly, and then second became harder to get too, and then harder still (pedal to the floor, pull hard on the shifter), and then I started grinding third a couple of times going up the 'box.
Then my father had problems getting reverse too - rattling the teeth despite having his foot to the floor. And finally today, first and second suddenly became completely unobtainable while driving through town, with all the other gears becoming somewhat 'occasional'. He got home attended by the distinct aroma of burning clutch, having had to slip it like mad to make progress in heavy traffic...
Googling through alt.autos.fiat, I came across a post describing a similar problem which was traced to the clutch release bearing wearing a groove in the pressure plate springs, with several eventually breaking completely. This does sound like our problem, although earlier posts in the thread also described nasty noises and pedal vibration, none of which we're experiencing. I *think* I could hear a slight release-bearing-like squeak going on and coming off the clutch, but it was very quiet and my father's hearing isn't good enough to confirm this... (-:
I measured the cutch pedal travel yesterday as roughly 120mm from the centre of the pedal (measured to a datum on the back of the steering wheel).
So, anyone recognise the symptoms? My parents live in a rural area and this is their sole car, so we don't want to do anything more than absolutely required to fix the problem - we don't want to split engine and 'box if a fix or adjustment can be made from outside the bellhousing, for instance.
How easy is a clutch change in a Punto, given that it looks like the family mechanic (me, in other words) is going to end up spending some of his festive season crawling around on the driveway doing it?
TIA. (-:
PJ - considering lending his father his Cobra as temporary transport... (-:
--
Acorn RiscPC600 - StrongARM Powered
WWW: http://www.tarags.demon.co.uk/homepages/index.htm
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
since this is an hydraulic clutch firstly check the resevoir isn't empty of fluid, it does sound to me like you may have a leak somewhere resulting in air in the system, if it looks ok then get an assistant to help you "bleed" the system to eliminate any air that may be present. since this is the simplest job, check this before you condem the clutch unit itself. also check around the clutch slave cylinder for any signs of leak, you will have to pull back the rubber dust cover and take a look inside, and also around the clutch pedal linkage where it is connected to the master cylinder. i think if any pressure plate blades were broken you would certainly hear them rattling around in the bellhousing, however it is possible that they may just be weak and thus not providing enough clearance to free the clutch drive plate when the clutch is engaged. if this is the case then a replacement is the only option. hope this helps. steve. uk

and
then
get
despite
other
in
This
experiencing.
centre
this
fix
family
festive
(-:
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It isn't.

This is what we thought to begin with, but we fiddled around for a while and decided it was probably okay.
Does anyone know what the slave cylinder travel should be when the pedal is fully depressed?

I may bleed just for the hell of it, to see what comes out...

I investigated this. It's not so easy because the engine was losing oil around the igniton coil bracket which has coated the bellhousing/'box with oil. But there were no signs of anything fresh being layed down around the cylinder...

Indeed. Thanks.
PJ.
--
Acorn RiscPC600 - StrongARM Powered
WWW: http://www.tarags.demon.co.uk/homepages/index.htm
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

May not be the clutch, but rather the operating shaft rusted and frozen almost solid. Problem is usually caused by exposure to road spray (salty on gritted roads) over the years working its way down the shaft. Check that when the clutch pedel is pressed the actuating arm and shaft move freely. If not get a helper and start with a spray can with extension tube of WD40 or a penetrating oil like 3in1; poke the thin tube in the gap and spray in bursts while helper does the leg work. Once you get it moving freely move on to something more robust than WD40, spray synthetic grease, gearbox oil, or ordinary grease pushed in the gap, something a bit fluid helps as it will work its way down the shaft with time and useage.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

and
then
get
My wife's car had very similar problems recently. It ended up that if she put the clutch pedal fully depressed and engaged 1st gear which she had to literally force in with both hands, the car would take up drive immediately even although the pedal was fully depressed.
Took it to local friendly garage who initially bled the system but got no improvement. A new clutch had to be put in to solve it.
HTH
Steven.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Removed the gearbox today. Pretty much as described, half the clutch fingers were broken, the other half were seriously grooved, and the release bearing was seized/chewed up. And all that with no funny noises and no change in clutch pedal feel...
... now just to get it all back together again. Anyone care to recommend a particular brand of replacement clutch? (-:
Thanks for everyone's help/advice...
PJ.
--
Acorn RiscPC600 - StrongARM Powered
WWW: http://www.tarags.demon.co.uk/homepages/index.htm
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
borg and beck are reasonably good clutch units as are LUK. but to be honest theres not much in terms of quality between cheap and expensive ones. if driven with care a clutch unit should see a good 50,000 miles upwards.
wrote:

no
fingers
bearing
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks. I think he's just gone ahead and ordered whatever the Fiat dealer wants to sell him... /-:
PJ.
--
Acorn RiscPC600 - StrongARM Powered
WWW: http://www.tarags.demon.co.uk/homepages/index.htm
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.