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MG MGB Technical - Loose clutch lever

Hi there.

I posted this in the MGC Forum, but it could also apply to an MGB (I have one of those too)... The car I'm having this problem with is my 1968 MGC.

A couple of days ago I started hearing an odd whining noise when I would depress the clutch pedal. I could still shift without any problems, but the clutch pedal felt a bit off (wouldn't depress as far as it normally would).

Now, I'm unable to shift at all. Fluid levels in the clutch master were fine. I had my son depress the clutch while I was under the car to watch the play of the slave, and noticed the clutch lever wasn't pushing the slave back in. So, I popped off the slave, and noticed I could move the clutch lever easily back and forth by hand! Not looking good. So, I then started the engine and moved the lever by hand, and I could feel the lever hitting something spinning (either the clutch itself or the release bearing). The whinning sound was kind of like the sound I first heard.

So, it would seem to me that either the fork has broken free of the release bearing, or something else is messed up with it. Either way, I have a feeling I'll be pulling the engine this weekend.

Has anyone experienced anything similar? When the engine was last out (4 years ago to replace 2nd gear in the transmission), the clutch assembly was all replaced (cover, disk, release bearing).

When I removed the slave, there was fluid leaking from under the rubber cover, and the piston popped right out? I'm not sure if there's something that's supposed to hold the piston in place? (I thought there was a circlip on the Master, not sure about the slave). The irony is that I just had the slave rebuilt about 4 weeks ago! Could something have gone wrong that could have caused the piston to travel farther than it should, thus over-extending the clutch lever and causing the bearing or internals to get all buggered up?

Thanks for your comments and insight!
Shaan Parekh

My guess is that your throwout bearing has failed and is grinding, metal to metal, with the pressure plate. There was a large number of faulty throwout bearing in circulation a few years ago. RAY
rjm RAY

Does sound like the casting has broken up, with a couple of pushes on the clutch pedal after that the piston does pop right out - BT, DT. I have known of the carbon rings break up in as little as 8000 miles, where they have been pinned into the casting, you can see a roll-pin through the side, see this and more horror stories at

Make *sure* the new bearing is not like this in any case. Whilst one would hope these stopped being made some time ago there could still be some old stock lying about. I don't know about an MGC but if like the MGB make sure the pins on the sides of the release bearing are held in the fork with a little spring-clip on each side.
Paul Hunt 2010

For the MGB I use a ball race type release bearing. It is a GST NUOVA brand. Pt No. 46892. They are good if you have to drive in heavy traffic where your foot hardly gets a chance to stay off the pedal. The same design may be available in the larger size for the MGC. Web site
Garth Bagnall

I bought a roller bearing release bearing when I replaced my clutch many years ago, at considerable extra expense. It then started squealing just as it was taking up and releasing the pressure on the cover-plate, and I started reading about a pull-off spring kit to prevent the bearing continually rotating and wearing out! Needless to say my supplier knew nothing of problems with the bearing or this kit. I lived with it and it caused no other problems, and some fifteen years or more later suddenly realise it is no longer making the noise (imminent problems?). But then I realised how foolish I had been. I was hardly going to leave an old release bearing of *any* type in there the next time I replaced the clutch, and carbon bearings usually more than last the life of the clutch plate, so it as a complete waste of money. They were awol for a long time, but I think they are available again. I would never fit one as an additional cost option again, but I understand they are standard on the V8 and 1500 midget, neither of which have a pull-off spring, which incidentally totally nullifies the self-adjusting nature of these clutches anyway!
Paul Hunt 2010

This thread was discussed between 18/06/2010 and 26/06/2010

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