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Nissan Sentra Clutch Replacement

Q. Hello Vincent, I've recently acquired a 1989 Nissan Sentra, front-wheel Drive, manual transmission with a 1.6 litre engine. It has over 125,000 miles on it but has been maintained very well. When I received the car I was told that it would need a clutch replacement very soon as the clutch cable has been adjusted to it's max and there is quite a bit of slippage in clutch itself, especially going uphill.

Nissan Sentra Clutch Replacement

I went ahead and ordered a ZuK clutch kit online for a very reasonable price and am seriously thinking of doing the repairs myself. I have many years experience as a machine technician and have worked on cars in the past, however, I have never replaced a clutch before. I would just like any invaluable information you might have as to what I should look for while I am performing these repairs.

I know that experience is a valued resource when it comes to making major repairs and any tips you could throw my way would be greatly appreciated. I would hate to put in the clutch kit and overlook something else that I could fix at the same time, i.e.; having the flywheel resurfaced.

Thanks for your time in advance,

A. Well, this vehicle has a fairly easy clutch to replace. I'm going to assume this is a 2WD vehicle and that you will be doing the job on the ground.

Jack the front of the vehicle as high as you safely can and be sure you use jack stands to support the vehicle. Apply the parking brake and chock the wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling.

Remove the top two transmission bolts, 1 and 2, from the top while you let the transmission fluid drain out and before jacking the car up.

Nissan Sentra Clutch Replacement

Now, remove the front wheels and remove the large axle nut from the end of the axle shaft. Push the axle shaft in. It won't move far, you just want to make sure it will move. If it doesn't, put the nut back on backwards and screw it in until it's flush with the end of the axle shaft. Put a piece of 2x4 over the end of the axle shaft and tap it loose. Never hit the end of the axle shaft alone. Doing so WILL destroy the threads.

Disconnect the lower ball joints from the lower control arms. There are two or three bolts that hold it on. Slide the axle shafts out of the hub and swing the struts rearward. You can tie them out of the way with some rope.

With a large screwdriver, get between the inner CV joint and transmission and pop the axle shafts out of the transmission. Be careful not to tear the a CV boots and lay them aside.

Next, remove the starter motor. Then remove the transmission housing bolts 3, 4 and 5. Place a floor jack under the transmission. When the transmission is supported properly, remove the last bolt, 6.

Nissan Sentra Clutch Replacement

Get a pry bar between the transmission and engine block and pop the transmission loose. slide it back and down. I think that at this point I should mention you should get a mask to prevent breathing in the dust. Some clutches use asbestos and breathing it in can cause health problems.

Once the transmission is out of the way, you will see the pressure plate. There are six bolts that hold it in place. Loosen each one a turn at a time until the pressure plate hangs loose. Keeping things even is the key here. You might have to pop the pressure plate loose before you remove all the bolts.

Remove the pressure plate and clutch disc. Note the direction of the clutch disc so you can install the new one the same way. Some replacement clutch discs will be marked with "Flywheel side" on them. Insure the replacement clutch parts are identical to the old ones. If you are going to have the flywheel resurfaced, remove it now. Put a paint mark one bolt hole and a mark on the flywheel so you can position the flywheel the same way when you reinstall it.

Okay, the flywheel is back in and we're ready to go on. Clean any oil or rust preventative off the face of the pressure plate. I rough up both sides of the clutch disc and pressure plate with some 100 grit sand paper.

If you bought a kit, there should be a clutch alignment tool in it. Put the tool through the clutch disc and, with the pressure plate, put it into position. Did you make sure you have the clutch disc facing the right way? Now start the six pressure plate bolts.

Nissan Sentra Clutch Replacement

With the tool line up the clutch disc in the pilot hole. While holding the tool and clutch disc in position, tighten the pressure plat bolts in a diagonal pattern one turn at a time. Keep going until the bolts are tight, 22 foot pounds.

Replace the throwout bearing. Apply some white lithium grease to the shaft the bearing rides on, the ball and pivot for the clutch fork, the area the clutch fork rides on the throwout bearing and the splines of the input shaft.

Once that's done, move the transmission into position and, here comes the fun part, lift it up and into position. The transmission is not very heavy which makes things a lot easier. You may need to twist and turn the transmission to get the splines of the input shaft to line up with the splines of the clutch disc. In addition, the input shaft must be perpendicular to the clutch shaft. If you have the clutch disc positioned properly, it should slide right in when the splines mesh.

Now put a couple of bolts in and get the jack out of the way. That's it! Just work your way back and put everything back together, refill the transmission with transmission fluid and you will be done. When you replace the axle shaft nut, be sure you use a new cotter pin.

Pretty simple and straightforward. It will probably take about five or six hours.

Additional Information provided courtesy of AllDATA

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