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Nolimit77 05-15-2012 01:33 PM

E36 Clutch issues(so I think) during recent track event
Hi guys, figured this mist be a more suitable place rather than the "tech" section as most of you have tracked you cars at some point or another. *wave*

The Problem:

My car is a 1996 E36 328i and during my first event(Sigma TA) with the car, and more specifically my first run, I had a major clutch issue. Near the end of my second hot lap, I attempted to shift into third when it refused to do so - actually it wouldn't go into any gear so I coasted to a stop off track. Once stopped, the cabin and front end of the car was smoking pretty bad with a ditinct burning clutch armoma. What I found weird was that I had pedal pressure during this time but pbviously it just refused to get into gear.

Once back to the pits I decided to let the car cool down to see if the clutch would become operational once again and sure enough it did. I then went for a drive into town to test it out and all seemed fine - no slipping or clutch related problems. After that thorough test I decided to take the car back out on track and sure enough, at about the same time (2nd hot lap) the problem came back, but thankfully this time I felt it was happening and was able to keep it in gear and drive back to the pits. Again, the smell of clutch was there. The most strange thing about the second time it happened was that there was NO slipping- it felt as if I shifted into 5th gear from 2nd. It just bogged down as if it was a motor problem but the car drove back to the pits under its own power and seemed absolutely fine. :confused:

When this problem first arrose, I thought for sure it was the clutch but to be honest I am no longer sure as a damaged clutch usually slips really bad, not bog down. I know for sure it has nothing to do with how I was shifting as I have been using the heel/toe technique for a few years now during down shifts in any car and I DO NOT, repeat DO NOT power shift. On my last three attempts at making runs, I was even more cautious and shifted like a granny, but no such luck - the problem would return every time.

Only positive thing for me during the day was cracking off a 1:25.9 without ever having been to TMP before and it was my first track event for ME and the car(competed in 50 autocross events over the past two seasons). Unfortunately, as a result of my problems, I only logged a total of 6 hot laps(on 6 seperate runs) so I know the car has ALLOT more in it - I just need it to run more than 1 hot lap at a time so I can put some laps together. :(

Below is information on the car that might help.

1996 E36 328i
AASCO Motorsports 10lb flywheel
Bully clutch
3.15 LSD
CDV recently deleted(shifts much smoother now)
Stoptech 332MM brake kit(new RB rotors)
Hawk DTC60 pads F/R
Turner brake cooling ducts
New fluids througout(except the tranny)

** Note: I have been having some electronic issues with my climate control. Sometimes it will randomly shut off and as a result my revs would hang during shifts. On my first run, it was off and before I got on track, I attempted to get it back on with but couldn't. I feel as if this might have had a part in this problem but I cannot be sure. Thoughts? **

The car will be going to a shop as this is a bit much for me to do by myself in my underground. I just want to hear what some of you thought before I did take it in.

Thanks in advance!

T.Dot_E30 05-15-2012 02:10 PM

Sounds like a clutch hydraulic problem.

You mention fluids are new, does that include a brake fluid flush? What kind of fluid were you using? Brake fluid is important on the track especially if you were braking hard, it could be possible that your brake fluid started to boil. (Your clutch shares the fluid with your brakes). That would cause the system to lose pressure and make your brakes and clutch feel spongy, possibly not enough pressure to fully engage the slave. Hence it being hard to put into gear.

How was your brakes feeling during the times you had this clutch problem?

Other issues that could cause hard gear changes at high rpm, is a beat/old/worn transmission with worn out syncros. The transmission fluid plays a role as well, because it sounds like this only happen when things heat up, so it could be you are low on fluid or it can't hold to the abuse.

Nolimit77 05-15-2012 03:30 PM

Thank you for your response! :) I might be new to big track stuff but I do know about brake fluid and how it is shared with the hydraulic clutch.*th-up* Having said that, I am not sure what fluid is in there atm because while my car was in the shop(can-alignment) prior to this event, I had him change the brake fluid since the CDV was being removed and I was in the midst of getting the car ready for the track - basically attempting to kill two birds with one rock. We discussed the different options, but I left it up to him to decide since he has ALLOT more experience than I on big tracks and I wasn't sure which was the best starting point. I was suppose to report back with how the car felt so we could then decide if another fluid with a higher boiling point was needed but as you know, I never really got the chance :(

Despite all that, both pedals(brake/clutch) were completely normal and lost zero pressure even during the "problems"- and that means all 4 times it happened. Like I said in the OP, I found that to be extremely odd!

Nolimit77 05-17-2012 01:03 PM

Alright, here is the video of the problem. Skip right to 3:05 and listen to my 2nd to 3rd shift coming onto the straight.

Note: This was my third run of the day and due to the problems, only my sixth lap on the track. This time, it didn't even make it around for one complete hot lap.


T.Dot_E30 05-17-2012 02:12 PM

Were you in gear when it sounded like it was bogging down?

Any CEL lights?

Nolimit77 05-17-2012 02:27 PM

It bogged as soon as I released the clutch to engage 3rd. It is almost like I went into 5th but that was definitely not the case since I checked when I got back to the pits. The first run when it happened didn't bog, it just refused to go into any gear and the clutch was smoking quite heavily. All the runs after(all 4) it did exactly what the videos shows. Then on the way home, if I would accelerate in say 4th from 30 km/h roll, it felt as if the clutch slipped for a fraction of a second then would hook up again -it did that 3 times over 2 seconds and never again for the drive home(most likely because I then strictly used lower gears from that point just to ensure I got home).

Car is having a 4 point cage put in atm and I will be out of the country for the week so I will start looking into once I get back. Problems is, it will be hard to replicate these conditions on the street(lawfully of course). I also plan on doing the CSCS event June 3rd so I won't have much time to figure it out..

Thanks for your help so far. :)

Forgot to answer your question about the CEL; it is on but before the event it was for a O2 sensor which I plan on replacing all 4 when I get back. I wonder if a new code or two will show up now. hmm..

T.Dot_E30 05-17-2012 03:09 PM

Yea no prob, sorry I don't have much suggestions, seems like a weird issue.

I had an issue in the winter with the car bogging down and wouldn't rev when it got hot. During this time the car would idle but rev very slowly. Finally one day when it happened I got a CEL, I had a code scanner and scanned it right when I got home. It had done it multiple times before with no CEL. It had a code for the Crank Sensor, which I thought was odd given the symptoms, but changed it and the problem went away.

Not saying that's your issue, because you also have clutch problems, but mine sounded almost exactly like your video when it did it.

It's hard to tell obviously without seeing it happen in person, but my feeling is if it went into gear then started bogging, it shouldn't be clutch related, it might be two separate problems.

Nolimit77 06-12-2012 06:12 PM

UPDATE......Its fixed!!!

Well, rewind to the beginning of last week, I finally got my car back from the cage builder and was still trying to figuring out this mysterious issue. During the time the car was away, I did extensive research as well as price out the replacement clutch(it was a custom clutch kit from Bully apparently) I thought I would need just so I was ready for the job. One of those things I researched was the climate control issue, which I mentioned in the OP, thats when things started to click in my head. It turns out that when my faulty climate control unit would turn off(which it had during the day at the track), the A/C compressor would stick on - as we all know, A/C isn't the best thing to have on during hard driving at the track *no-no*. This was putting extra strain on my clutch but, the biggest problem being that the compressor itself would seize at high RPM causing the "bogging". I ended up going to Sayal electronics and purchased the necessary capacitor to fix the faulty climate control.

The following Wednesday I decided to test out my theory at TMPWhere it was originally having problems) during their 5-9PM open lapping session, and guess what? It was absolutely fine! I was able to put in 7 hot laps in a row in three different sessions. *love* Just incase it was a fluke, I then took the car to OTA events 3 & 4 at shannonville this past weekend and was able to complete both days(all sessions from start to finish) without a single hiccup. I am so happy with the car now and can now continue prepping it properly for the class I run in.

Hopefully this helps someone else out who might experience the same problem!

T.Dot_E30 06-12-2012 08:04 PM

Glad you found the issue, that was a weird one!

SiR 06-13-2012 09:47 AM

intredasting. the compressor usually disengages at higher load/rpm.

nice that you figured it out.

Nolimit77 06-13-2012 10:24 AM


Originally Posted by SiR (Post 1570809)
intredasting. the compressor usually disengages at higher load/rpm.

nice that you figured it out.

I thought so to! A/C is coming out altogether so I never have to worry about it again. *wiggle*

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