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Defender clutch ah oh...

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happily crusing down the road today when the clutch pedal decided to go all the way to the floor. There is a puddle of hydraulic fluid under it, on the floor mat.

Couldn't drive it home, because we had to stop it to turn it around, and once stopped, well...there was no way to start it up again in first gear without a clutch to press.

I am relatively new to LRs, and the vehicle is sitting at a marina a few miles away until I can arrange a tow tomorrow.

Looking under the bonnet, I see it's a hydraulic clutch. Am I right in assuming it will have the same master cylinder seal kind of thing hydraulic brakes have?

It's a 2006 Defender 90 with a TDi.

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Why can't you start it in 1st gear? I did that for ~50 miles or more in Finland when my release bearing went - you can use low-ratio if it's having a hard time.

Couldn't shift it into gear at all. Drove it to a convenient area in third, but once I got back to neutral that was it. It stayed in neutral.

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It's not a hard job and Les has posted a helpful step by step guide in the Tech Archive.



Steve, thanks for the link.

While my 2006 has some differences, (bonnet is different, didnt have to move a pipe, other things) that put me on the right track. I now have sitting in front of me a master cylinder made by Girling. I don't have a tech manual for this thing, and am not sure which of the several numbers on it I should use to try to find one.

On the 'barrel' or resovoir it says "Girling 3/4" and on the right side of the piston cylinder part of the casting it says (stamped upside down) "R1 3K" but that K could be an X.

On the other side it says "442"

and on the flange that mounts against the clutch box it's stamped "23GR"

do any of those numbers mean anything to you?

One last question....just curious, but what you guys call 'mole grips'.....are those the same as our 'vise grips'?

Now I need to find someone who stocks these things and is willing to send one to a small Caribbean island post haste.

The local dealer has nothing in stock, and quoted me $ 284 for one, in a couple weeks. Ouch. It really doesnt LOOK that expensive.

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3/4 is 3/4" bore I believe. I'd like to know what your dealer is smoking, a clutch slave over here is about £10, or maybe £15-£20 from a dealer, unless Land Rover decided to change the part after 58 years for the 06 models.

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Mole grips/vise grips. Same thing.

You could always order parts from Uk, but what are the shipping charges going to be & would you have to pay any sort of import duty at your end?

As for setting off without the clutch, the idea is that with engine off you engage 1st then start the engine.

Changing up & down is then done by matching engine speed to gearbox speed. Once mastered can be done without much difficulty.

To stop, turn the engine off as you come almost to a stop. BUT, and it is a big BUT you lose servo assistance to the brakes when the engine is off.

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You also lose steering assistance. I found that knocking it out of gear and coasting to a halt was easier, then switch it off, engage 1st, start it up and off we go again. I was surprised how smooth it was changing gear with no clutch once I got the hang of it.

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Oh, I tried that. Once in neutral, I could not get it into any gear at all while stopped.

Still can't in fact. It's sitting in my garage at the moment until I find a master cylinder.

Fed Ex charges to get that little thing from the USA to here ( I am about six hundred miles south of Florida) will cost me around $150. minimum. Then I will have to pay a 30% import duty on it. If I have to order one from the UK I have no idea how much it will cost. I don't know yet if the USA suppliers will have the right one. I think they quit importing Defenders here in the mid 90's, so anything they have in stock will likely be for the NA version. Of course I don't know if the cylinders change from year to year.

And yes, the local dealer is a ripoff. They ONLY buy parts from Land Rover.

But meanwhile I am paying a hundred dollars a day for a rental car until it's fixed....so I am pretty much stuck.

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Your local car parts place may be able to cross-reference it with another Girling cylinder, chances are it's a common item.

Interesting thought! Thanks. We only have one auto parts place here, but I will check that out in the morning.

Something else puzzling me. In looking up the part online, I see that several of the Land Rover parts houses also list a very cheap rebuild kit. I would imagine this thing only has a spring and a few o-rings in it.

But it's sitting here on the table in front of me, and I cannot for the life of me see any way to get it apart.

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If you have this trouble getting parts Gringo, then it might be an idea to order some spares to keep on the shelf. If you order them from the UK and are not in a hurry for them, then slow mail will be cheaper :) Stuff like a clutch master cylinder, a clutch slave cylinder, perhaps a water pump and gasket, brake pads amongst other items should see you immobilised for the minimum of time in the event of a failure and is a damn sight cheaper than car hire !


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Its quite easy to start & drive a vehicle with no clutch. I drove across Johannesburg when my clutch went once.

Hold the gear lever with the engine off, as if you were trying to put it into first, till you feel resistance, then start the vehicle. You will bounce along for a few meters, but it will slip into gear.

As you steadily accelerate, pull gently back on the gear shift, and as you reach a certain rev range, the vehicle will slip out of gear. "Blip" the throttle a touch & change up to next gear.

Works changing up & down, just needs a little bit of practice, its not very hard. I learnt the technique from a truck driver ages ago, still do it quite a lot actually. I doubt there is any stress on the gearbox or gears, as the gear changes all happen under no resistance.


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Oh, yeah, I know about that. I have shifted a lot of vehicles without using the clutch. In fact just a few months back I was showing the technique to my son while driving my Samurai. I was explaining to him about shifting in and out of 4x4 on the fly, etc. I had never tried in in the LR, but assumed it would behave as just about any manual tranny that's come out since the old Synchro-Mesh days...

But this Defender wouldnt do it. I cannot get it out of neutral. It will not shift into first. It was in third gear when the clutch master cylinder let go....and I was attempting to shift it from third down into second and I got as far as neutral.

And there it still is.

I have just now finished installing the master cylinder and am about to embark upon my first attempt to bleed the clutch hydraulic line. I assume I do that down at the slave cylinder, since I can see a bleeder valve on the top of it.

I have another question. While under the vehicle, I noticed an open threaded hole in the bottom of the bell housing. Peering up through it I see what I assume is a flywheel. It's dry. I sincerely hope it's supposed to be that way!!

It doesnt appear that this bolt has been in for a long time. Does anyone know if it's critical? It's about five inches directly forward of the oil pan drain, and right on the centerline like any drain bolt would be. I don't know what it is, I would guess maybe 14 or 15 mm.

Any ideas?

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Guest diesel_jim

If you put a rubber pipe onto the bleed nipple, then into a container.

fill the master cylinder up with oil, it'll probably drain down fairly quick, with a few pumps of the pedal... keep an eye on the reservoir as one pump of the pedal will virtually empty it.

once you've done a couple of pumps, tighten up the nipple, fill the reservoir and replace the lid.

then jump in and start enthusiasticly pumping the pedal. you'll find after 10~15 pumps, it's bled itself. much quicker than trying to use the bleed pipe/tightening and undoing the nipple whilst pumping the pedal etc.

that hold onder the flywheel housing is the wading plug. you insert it if you know you'll be going through deep water/mud, as it stops the clutch getting full of water/poo/abrasive sandy mucky stuff. (not sure what engine you've got, but Tdi's have them in the cambelt housing as well)

you can leave them in all the time, but if you spring a leak from the gearbox or crankshaft, then you'll not know about it until your clutch starts slipping because it's full of oil, so if you're not off road much...best to leave it out.

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Thanks for the info on the wading plug. We live offroad, and so drive offroad every day. Three and a half miles to the nearest pavement. But never in deep water. no rivers here. I would assume going through the odd puddle once wouldnt hurt it much to get wet. clean the dust out.

I started pumping the clutch pedal, by hand since it goes all the way to the floor and the springs hold it there.

No resistance at all in the pedal, although the resovoir level did go down about an inch. No leaks that I can see. Maybe I will go see if I can find some tubing on this island somewhere.

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I want to thank you guys for your help. The photos helped a lot. The setup in my Defender is slightly different, since I did not have to worry about the bonnet or moving the pipe, but the procedure made it all simple enough.

New master cylinder in and working just fine. I had it in two days, and saved well over a thousand dollars in local dealer costs and car rental. Total out of pocket expense...$ 132 for the cylinder and shipping, another $ 30 in import duties, and $ 500 for car rental. Total of $ 662. Not bad.

If I had gone with the local dealer...I am estimating charges would have been on the order of:

$110 for towing, $ 284 for the cylinder, lets say six hours at $ 40 for labor for labor charges of $ 240, and two full weeks (at least, and I am being kindly optimistic) of car rental at $ 1400 for a dealer-repair total of $ 2,034.

Now, after driving a KIA Sportage over this rough road at 40 mph for five days....my wife wants to know if there is anything I can do to the suspension of the Defender to make it handle the bumps, rocks and holes without jarring her teeth out. I told her I didn't think so....but maybe there is some way to improve upon that stock suspension....will have to look into that while she has the checkbook out.

Any ideas or suggestions on suspension upgrades?

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Thanks for the info. I have actually managed to find several OME distributors in the US. I emailed a couple of them, to find out their recommendations for the '06 Defender.

I see that OME offers suspension kits ( $ 740) of four springs and shocks. They offer them in "heavy" and "med' versions. I asked what the difference was.

Then after I sent the emails I realized that US distributors of OME products probably don't have anything for any Defenders later than the NAFs.

No answers from any of them yet.

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