I took my Jeep to Uwharrie National Park yesterday and attempted one of the easy trails using 4WD. There was no rock climbing just all dirt and gravel with small hills and uneven terrain. I didn't get very far because I started to smell the clutch after a few hills dirt. I was ridding the clutch for sure and giving it gas while it was not fully out so that I could make it over each dirt bump (kinda like a 3-4ft speed bump) without stalling and without going over it to fast with the possibility of damaging my Jeep from the speed after the bump. As soon as I smelled the clutch I stopped for a few minutes then turned around on the trail and headed out (about 5-10 more minutes) of driving it like that once I could smell the clutch. I took off the 4WD once I was out of the trail and drove it home in the normal 2 hi. No smell and no clutch shaking just that the clutch seemed very loose and was engaging much differently and at a higher engagement point than before I tried the trail.
Was thinking of taking it back to the dealer on Monday to have them look at the clutch plates and see if its ok. I've read that my Jeep uses a hydraulic clutch that is self adjusting to normal wear and tear. Do you think that it will adjust to what happened and everything will be ok from now on? Can Jeep clutches take this kind of abuse for a short period and still be ok?
06-27-2010 10:46 AM
You shouldn't be riding the clutch like that. You would have been better off using 4L. In 4L you can crawl, even brake, without stalling.
06-27-2010 10:50 AM
thanks, this was my first time off road with 4wd and I've been told that by one of my close friends who is a mechanic too. Any idea if any long term damage has happened to the clutch?
06-28-2010 12:26 AM
A clutch is a wear item like brakes. You definitely reduced the life span. Just how much, there is no way of telling.
07-23-2011 06:24 AM
I have a JK model 2009. I ride it in sand dunes and have to stress the clutch a lot when in soft sand. Within short time I burned the second clutch already and now learned that I am not the only one who finds the JK clutch a weak item. Some members of my off-road club have exchanged it against a Cherokee clutch and are more happy with that.
07-23-2011 05:58 PM
If you stopped as soon as you smelled the burining clutch, you probably didn't do any damage. I don't see the need to take it to the dealer and have it inspected. It's a lengthy and expensive procedure for an unlikely problem. Now, if you feel that the clutch behaves strangely (it slips or vibrates when you start) then it's another story.
To avoid making the same mistake in the future, that's what 4L is for. Shift the transfer case into LOW and you can "crawl" at just a couple of miles per hour.
07-24-2011 07:31 AM
I am new at wheeling too. My new 2010 Sport has been to Uwharrie about 6 times so far. Wolf Den and Falls Dam are easy to do in 4Hi. One thing I had to learn is to stay off the clutch. It is hard to do at first, but in 1st gear 4Hi, it is hard to stall it out. One little trick I found going over those berms is to hit them at an angle and it won't scrape the skid plate.