TJ Owners, Check Your Clutch
By
Lee Miller

During the run at Gilmer I was on the trail, idling in neutral, waiting for the vehicles in front of me to clear an obstacle. When it was my turn, I depressed the clutch to put my Jeep in 1st gear and the pedal went straight to the floor! Fortunately, I was in neutral and nothing happened.

Upon a quick inspection I determined that the retainer for the clutch pedal had failed. This piece of plastic (see picture) was on the floor. I used a clip-pin to retain the pedal to the clutch assembly and completed the run with no problems. 

Monday morning I went to Crown Jeep in Katy expecting to replace this part for under $5 (even though it is worth $.05). Please remember this retainer/bushing attaches the clutch pedal arm to the linkage!  The parts department  informed me that this is a non-serviceable part and that I would have to buy the complete clutch assembly for $220 ! 

OK – No prob – I’ll file a warranty complaint and they can fix it any way they want to! Well, my 1998 TJ with 18,800 miles is 2 months out of warranty. Furthermore, Chrysler says because I have 33” tires on my Jeep, all warranty issues concerning the clutch are void! 

I decided to fix this factory defect myself. Upon inspection, the retainer clip for the brake pedal looked like it would be the perfect solution/replacement for the clutch retainer. I went back to the local Chrysler/Jeep dealer parts department and was promptly informed that this was a non-serviceable part! 

I knew now that ACE Hardware was the place to be. I purchased a 7/16” “C” clip and two -½” washers and some nylon tubing for a replacement bushing. (See picture)  

This works. The service manager at two dealerships (Crown and Archer) agree that this “fix” is much better than factory issue. The following picture is the completed modification.  

The service managers at two dealerships were not familiar with this problem. The part failure may have been due to a defective retainer. I am sure that the additional stress that we put on our vehicles off-road can cause some unusual problems. 

So, if you drive a TJ, you will probably want to check this part for wear. 

Lee Miller