What happened to the old cheap/easy clutch replacement that added value to purchasing a manual transmission? One reason I buy manuals is because I look forward to not having to rebuild or buy an expensive slush box. Replacing a clutch should be an affordable Saturday activity. My Mini is proving that this may no longer be true.

My 2007 Mini S needs a new clutch. She’s having a hard time holding anything about 3,000 RPMS in 4th, 5th, and 6th gears. I’m gently trying to coax out another 5-days of life before I pull the transmission this weekend. Out of curiosity I called up the dealer for a quote, $3,500 out the door. Holy Frijolis that’s an expensive clutch replacement for a hatch back economy car. Remember kids, when you buy a Mini you also buy into BMW’s service costs. In addition to the horrible dealer labor rates, there's another reason for the high replacement cost. Most new cars now utilize expensive and over-complicated dual mass flywheels (DMF). Did you know that the small 1.6L BMW/MINI manual transmissions utilize a flywheel/clutch that weighs 40 pounds! That’s 40 pounds of rotational mass on a 1.6L engine! The clutch kit itself isn't the issue it's fairly small and is only $350 via BMW’s parts supplier. The flywheel is 700 freaking dollars and a purchase requirement 90% of the time since DMFs CAN NOT BE RESURFACED. The DMF utilizes two flywheels connected together with a friction plate and multiple sets of springs. The purpose is to smooth out the engine pulses while isolation the gear box from the engine. This turns the clutch into a mushy feeling mess and gives you the impression that the clutch is super soft and always slipping between engagements. Here’s a YouTube vid to illustrate how a DMF adds more parasitic drivetrain power loss along with some additional complexity and cost.

So my plan is to drop $1,000 on an adapted-solid flywheel which includes an OEM clutch kit. This solution saves about 20 pounds and $100 from the stupid DMF.

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I'm getting a good old fashioned aluminum flywheel that will spin the clutch just like a manual transmissions of 10 years ago. The clutch won’t engage as smoothly, there may be some chatter on non-perfect starts, and I may find out that my gear box needs a rebuild as well if it begins to make noise after the install. On the other hand, my engine will rev faster, give me a much quicker clutch take up, and get better mileage! I may need new CV joints sooner than later but by damn, my mini is going to be so much more enjoyable to drive quickly.

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While I'm in there I also replace the rear main seal and the output seals on the tranny. I'll let you all know how it goes. Any thoughts or suggestions?