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MG MGA - Clutch Shudder on Takeoff

Hey All:

I am experiencing severe sudder when taking off in first gear (and reverse). Sometimes if I start very slowly, I can control it. Second through fourth gear don't have the same problem. Any suggestions on the most likely cause? Could the solution be as simple as bleeding the hydraulics??

I have also attached a picture of my car. I know BRG is not an original color, but it sure is pretty.

Dave Simes

Dave, might be loose or worn engine mounts.
A Pearse

Could also be oil on the clutch disk or wear in the pilot bushing.
David "clutching at straws" Lieb
David Lieb


British Racing Green was a factory color for MGA's built in the BMC factory in Australia.

M F Anderson

A loud squeal with harsh vibration is a clutch disc issue. See here:

Faulty engine mounts or gearbox mounts could contribute to a violent shaking of the engine/gearbox assembly.
Barney Gaylord

Nice Jaguar 3.4 too! Makes a perfect compliment to the A

Neil McGurk

Hi Dave, Mine does this sometimes too - and it has new engine mounts recently fitted as well as master cylinder rubbers - so not those - the PO also had a new clutch fitted about 10k miles ago. I put it down to oil on the clutch plate - I can live with it until I pull the engine and gear box when I (eventually) go for the 5 speed - cheers Cam
ps - nice car and also the Jag.
Cam Cunningham

A few weeks ago another fellow had clutch shudder problems. I think the out come was he used Brake Cleaner fluid and squirted it into the clutch disk via the small drain hole at the bottom of the bellhousing. It cleaned away enough oil off the clutch disc to stop the shudder. Having recently my tranny and engine apart. There is not much of the clutch disc exposed for brake fluid to enter and cleansed the clutch disc. It is mostly encased by the clutch pressure plate. BUT it worth a try... a lot quicker than pulling the motor.
Ray Ammeter

IF the brake cleaner works, it implies that there was oil on the friction surfaces of the clutch. (BTW, it works better with two people so one can be spraying while the other pumps the clutch pedal to allow the cleaner to get between the surfaces.) AT that point you have to ask yourself how the oil got there. Assuming you did not put it there during assembly, my money would be on too much oil getting past your rear main "seal", being flung on the bellhousing, then dripping onto the clutch mechanism. Alternately, oil could be coming out of the front seal of the trans. Either way, the brake cleaner should probably be regarded as a bandaid while you prepare to pull the engine and do it right. Otherwise it will strand you sooner or later. Heck, it probably will anyway. Is your engine adequately vented to minimize crankcase pressure? Check out the info on this on Barney's site.
David "living with denial" Lieb
David Lieb

Thanks to everyone who has provided suggestions. I do suspect that it is oil on the clutch plate, as it feels like the the clutch is slipping. I doubt that it is caused by wear, as the clutch only has 1,000 miles on it. I will definitely try the brake cleaner idea (even though it seems like a temporary fix). Sooner or later it probably will leave me stranded, but I guess there is no point in pulling the engine before then. Heck, I might be able to continue like this for years (that's the lazy Dave talking)!!

Thanks Again, Dave
Dave Simes

This thread was discussed between 19/10/2008 and 24/10/2008

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