Clementine's Garage
Clementine the Cat
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Yellow R4
Réparateur d'automobiles

Prohibitively expensive clutch... HELP!!


Hi everyone!

Sorry I haven't contributed to the forum for a while - I've been ridiculously busy and suddenly it's Christmas!!!

My 'A' reg silver 4 has been plodding along nicely since getting
it in September. Nothing dramatically wrong - she needs a new
CV Boot and new front brake pads which she's scheduled to have
fitted in January.


Today, her clutch pretty much went, causing temporary traffic
chaos on a major roundabout in Plymouth...!!!

Getting a new clutch isn't a problem - the really nice guy I got
the car from has loads of Renault spares and he's got one.
My problem is the cost of fitting it. I rang my local Renault
dealership and asked how much, because I thought I could get
it done at the same time as the brake-pads, etc. They quoted
me a jaw-dropping, (literally!!), £520!!!!!! That's more than I
paid for the car in the first place and just makes the whole
thing prohibitively expensive.

I'm going to check out other places tomorrow, and my best-
bet is a Landrover specialist who has already agreed to do a
little welding for me - he does clutches too, so maybe we can
agree a more amenable price. If not, well.....

I confess to being mechanically illiterate, so there's no chance
of me doing it myself. I just wondered what advice any of you
might have - I don't want to scrap one of the few Renault 4s
left, especially as it took me so long to find one and, well, because
I love them!! The thing is, I simply cannot afford that price.
I'm already going to have to spend roughly £350 on other bits -
it's getting out of hand.

Just had an idea!! Maybe one of you more mechanically-minded
Renault 4 fans could have mine, WITH the new clutch kit, in part-
exchange for another 4 which doesn't need this kind of surgery.
(I would, of course, pay the difference) That way, we could keep
two R 4s on the road, because at this rate mine may have to die...

Any thoughts and advice would be really welcome and much




& Clementine the Cat
Staff member
Bedford UK
Hi Chris,

What were the symptoms? Did the clutch go suddenly? If that's the case then I wouldn't be surprised if it was the clutch cable rather than the clutch itself. There are a few issues with the clutch cable. Not least the nuts at the gearbox end can come loose. This can make the clutch feel odd. At worst it can cause the end of the clutch cable to pop off the lever on the gearbox. It's worth checking where the cable from the clutch joins onto the lever on the left hand side of the gearbox to see if the cable is still connected. If so, it's worth seeing if tightening the nuts on the cable make the clutch any better. Also check the cable hasn't snapped in half.

Looking down the left side of the engine you should see the clutch lever at chassis level. The photo shows the cable correctly engaged in the lever. The nuts mentioned are below the bit that is arrowed (accessible from under the car).

Otherwise if the clutch really needs replacing then make sure you buy all 3 parts - the clutch plate, the back plate and the release bearing. See my clutch seizing page

The Land Rover place should hopefully charge £250 for clutch replacement. These Renault dealers tend to charge £50 per hour. It's mad. I can't seem to charge more than £35 per hour even when I'm being really clever for a living. More usually I charge £25 per hour - and even that's for skilled stuff. Can't see why a spotty technician can justify £50. It's not as if they'll get to use the expensive diagnostic stuff on a Renault 4....
This thread highlights the problem of owning a collectable/enthusiasts car without the owner having any mechanical ability. An older car is going to need more maintenance and upkeep anyway and without the ability to do it yourself, you have to put it into the hands of others and often pay through the nose.

I believe Renault give a time of 8.5 hours to do a clutch on a 4GTL, then you've got parts, VAT and oil. With the extortionate rates Renault charge per hour, this matches the quote given pretty accurately. In reality, Renault will have a ramp and ramp jacks so it will be realatively easy for one man to do the job. My R4 friend in a Cambridge dealership said it used to take him 4 hours to do one, and earned 4 hours bonus on top!

Whilst having the ability to do a clutch, I do not have a ramp. I'm not strong enough to remove the gearbox on my back so I resorted to removing the engine and box as a unit and splitting them on the floor. The whole job took me 6 hours including dealing with seized bolts and replacing mountings etc.

Clutches do not go suddenly, so if it was OK one minute and not the next, it is more likely to be a cable problem - for your sake, I hope it is.

If your R4 broke down on the 'bombed out church' roundabout in Plymouth you have my sympathy. A difficult obstacle to get round at the best of times.

Good luck



Thanks for the replies and advice concerning the clutch, guys.

Yes, this problem does show what can happen when someone like me chucks all reason out the window and gets something like an R4 despite having zero mechanical knowledge!!!! But, no problem and no regrets - there's always a way round these things.....

I wouldn't say that the clutch "suddenly went". I noticed a few weeks ago in heavy stop-start traffic that the car was juddering a bit and clearly not a happy girl... Yesterday, she juddered a lot more and finally stalled half-way across a major roundabout, leaving me to exchange Christmas pleasantries with numerous other drivers as they swerved around me..!!
(No, it wasn't the bombed-out church roundabout, but the one up by the station - just as bad!!)

Anyway, the Land-Rover guy isn't there today - I'll call him on his mobile later. As far as I understand, the chap who had the car before me put a new clutch cable on about 18 months ago. Clementine, many thanks for the photo and explanation - I'll have a look in a minute and see if it's the cable.

I do suspect the clutch, and so did the RAC man who came to rescue me yesterday, although the car did manage to get back to my house which was two miles away after an hour's rest...

I'll check things out and let you all know how it pans out. A friend of mine is an engineer in the Navy and offered to do any work I might need on the car in exchange for baby-sitting duties!!! It's time to give him a call.....

Cheers for now and Happy Christmas!



& Clementine the Cat
Staff member
Bedford UK
I'm not sure the Renault 4 is any worse mechanicaly than any second hand car - I spent hundreds on a 5 year old Peugeot 406 which needed clutch, brakes and exhaust. I don't recall having to do any welding on the Peugeot, but it did depreciate by £1500 in one year which would have paid for a whole lot of welding.

Trick is to find a honest mechanic with a sensible hourly rate. They are still around. I do like the idea of someone doing work in exchange for baby sitting.


I think the panic is over, thank goodness!!

I've checked out some other places today, and the best bet seems to be the little, independent garage over the road. The guys there have told me that they can fit a new clutch for £180 - certainly a more attractive and 'do-able' price than the Renault place...

I'm happy to say that Esme, (yes, that's my R4's name...!!!), will have the necessary work done next month. Happy Christmas!!