Problem with clutch - bad smell.....Any ideas?

Hi -
I own a 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara (and have owned it for over two years). Recently, it has started to emit a really bad burning smell
immediately after riding the clutch a bit (like when I am pulling out of a parallel parking spot on a hill).
My car NEVER did this before and just starting doing it. It's a burning smell - or, sorry for the bad description, like a fart smell...so my car is farting! ha ha! ;-)
Anyway, the clutch still seems to be working fine (my husband and I have both tested shifting up hills and it's doing it's job) - it's just scaring me when the clutch smells that bad immediately after riding it.
Could the clutch need an adjustment maybe? Or is this smell just normal sometimes when rpms get revved up really high?
Thanks in advance! Paula
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I have never smelled a clutch related issue that had a sulfurous odor, but who knows?
Actually, I suspect you have a problem with your catalytic converter or related system. When you are starting up and pulling away, the emissions system may be overloaded with gasoline (rich) which can cause sulfurous gas to be produced. That is my best guess, anyway.
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

The key concept here is that you're slipping the clutch, which *ALWAYS* causes heat. The secondary concept is "it just started doing it", which indicates (at least to me) that you're probably due for a fresh clutch disk and/or flywheel/pressure-plate resurfacing pretty soon - Likely due to you slipping it. Unless you can't avoid it, slipping the clutch as you describe is to be avoided as much as possible, for exactly the reason you're seeing. (err... smelling)
How many miles on the clock? You say you've had it 2 years, and its a '00 model, so I wouldn't doubt that it's getting close to time for a clutch job anyway, particularly if you regularly slip it as described. No telling what the previous owner did to/with it, obviously, but it's possible that (s)he was another clutch-rider.
A good rule is to always get off the clutch pedal as quickly as possible - The quicker the disk is solidly mashed against the flywheel by the pressure plate, the quicker the disk can dump whatever heat built up during the most recent operation to the flywheel, instead of retaining it and cooking itself.
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

If it's a 2000 car then chances are it has 80,000 to 100,000 miles and the clutch could be worn out. The way I test a clutch is to drive up a grade in high gear, hold the gas pedal down and press on the clutch until it starts to slip and release the clutch pedal. The engine should immediately slow down to operating speed. If it takes more than an instant then the clutch is for sure going bad.
However, cars can emit several different smells, so you might want to have it evaluated by a good repair shop or Suzuki dealer.
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John S. wrote:

The car has 70,000kms on it (which is approx. 43,500 miles) which is no where near the point for a new clutch. Plus, I already did a test on a hill (noted in my original post) to see if it was slipping - it is not.
I have a feeling that one of the other posters is correct - I need a new clutch plate or something associated with the clutch, because I have worn something out from riding it on the hills. I park on a hill for a class twice a week and now I've started parking downhill instead of up to avoid having to ride the clutch a bit.
I'll go take it in and see what they say....thanks!
Paula
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Sounds like you have just been too slow on the footwork lately. If it doesn't slip, then I wouldn't worry about it.
One trick for you is to use the emergency brake. That way you can have your foot on the gas and clutch for a fast lockup.
Just a thought... The smell you describe can be caused by a catalytic converter getting too much raw gas in it. It burns it off as it heats up and the fast revs when trying to start out maybe could get you the smell. The smell might be there at speed too, but is just blowing away.
Has the gas mileage gotten worse lately? If so I would be getting the codes read to see how things like the O2 sensor was working...
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

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Absolutely, totally, completely, perfectly correct advice. Gold star for ya, Mike :)
That's why the parking brake on a stick is usually right there on the hump within easy reach of your right hand. Set it when you stop, put it in first, and grab the brake handle - when you're ready to take off, throttle up, clutch out, and unlock brake in one motion. Nice easy takeoff with minimal clutch slip every time, regardless of how you're parked.
(Ever pondered just how much coordination is required to drive a stick? If not, think about this: Depending on exact circumstances, at any given instant, you may need to be actively operating five or six separate controls simultaneously. Using only four limbs...)
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Don Bruder wrote:

Excellent point. And the coordination issue can be used to benefit too. My three kids learned to drive on a stick shift and I sent each one off to school with a manual transmission equipped car. Each of them thanked me within a year because the manual transmission solved the problem of friends asking to borrow the car. Driving a stick shift is a disappearing skill!
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

I would be interested in reading what the real problem is. If you get a chance, please post the results.
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

You didn't buy the car new. Who knows how it was driven before?
Plus you said you rev the engine "really high" while you ride the clutch!!!
The long service lives cited for clutches based on the assumption that the equipment is used properly. The assumption is that the clutch is subject to only brief moments of friction, with moderate rises in temperature.
Incorrect technique will rapidly accelerate clutch wear.
You can destroy a clutch in a day, if you really try, while the odometer only puts on a few miles.

What difference does that make? If you face downhill, you may have to back into the spot. If the spot is tight, you have to do a few moves back and forth to get in and out.
Facing downhill helps you only if you can get into the spot without having to reverse, and if there is enough room later to get out without reversing.
Otherwwise, it can be easier to get out if you are facing uphill. You let the car roll back with gravity while you swing out the front, easily controlling its motion with the main brake. Then do a normal uphill start to get out. It's also easier to get into the spot in the first place if you face uphill, because you use gravity to back in.
If you're facing down, you may have to reverse uphill before you can get out. This is more tricky because you have to control the car so that it doesn't hit the car behind you. And of course you had to back uphill to get into that spot.
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

[ snip ]

That could be your problem right there! If your RPMs can, in any reasonable, or even conservative sense of the phrase "really high", be characterized as "really high" while you are slipping the clutch, you have a slight problem understanding clutches and respecting their limitations. You need adjustment, not the clutch.
Under worst case circumstances, you don't need to go above 2000 RPM, nor slip the clutch for longer than 2 seconds. I will probably get flamed for suggesting such outrageously high numbers, too.
Take some lessons. Get into your car with some expert who will tell you what you're doing wrong and how to do it differently.
During parallel parking moves, you only make brief touches with the clutch to get the car to roll. The clutch quickly comes up to the friction point, stays there very briefly, and then comes right down all the way! In other words, the clutch is disengaged most of the time. This is true even on an incline. Use the hand brake to hold the car when starting, and a combination of hand brake and gravity to stop it from hitting the car in front. The downhill moves are just done using gravity; no need to engage the clutch at all, nor even to change gear from forward to reverse or vice versa.
Sure, this stuff is mildly difficult, but you sign up for it when you get that manual car. Part of the fun is constantly monitoring your technique and striving to improve. People who don't want to monitor their technique in controlling a sensitive machine, and strive to hone it to perfection, should not drive manuals.
If you've been abusing the clutch for as long as you've owned the car, no wonder.
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snipped-for-privacy@shaw.ca wrote:

This is confusing. These two smells are nothing alike. A fart does not smell like something is burning. Farts smell due to the presence of hydorcarbons with -S-H groups (sulphur, hydrogen). If it's like rotten eggs, it's likely the catalytic converter. But your description is ambiguous; nobody would describe that as burning. Maybe you have both smells going on at once.
It could be that you get nervous when you are doing these parallel parking moves, and have a gaseous bowel movement from the tension without noticing it.

Exactly. You get scared, and blow one. Is that "rotten eggs" component of the smell more prominent if you sample the air nearer to the seat cushion?
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Kaz Kylheku wrote:

Ha ha, very funny. Sorry to confuse you about the smells. Jeez, I've never had anyone analyze a 'fart' smell before. ???? Never knew someone could find that so interesting....Kaz, I think I'll officially dub you the FART GUY! Now, THAT'S funny!
FYI, Fart Guy (tee hee), I am not getting 'scared' on the hills. I've been driving a stick for 20 years. I may happen to be a tad hard on my clutch at times, but not to the extent where I have wrecked it (I've owned a total of 4 cars - all with a manual transmission - that did NOT require new clutches or have any SMELL of any kind while I owned them - so I am quite convinced this clutch was probably in need of a repair when we bought the car - as were many other items).
For the posters who are interested, I will definitely let you know what the problem is once it is diagnosed at the Suzuki dealership. Thanks for your help!
Paula
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That would be appreciated, Paula.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.nix wrote:

Hey - I brought my car into the dealer yesterday for a quick check. My mechanic says the clutch looks fine. He thinks the smell I was smelling was either just burnt clutch smell from overriding the clutch on hills or something else related to it that he cannot detect. He couldn't find any other problems. Guess that's just my car's way of telling me to ease up and to start using the e-brake more on hills! ;-) Thanks for all your ideas, anyway!
Paula
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