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Ok, I'll try to keep this short and sweet (not my forte). I replaced the dual-mass clutch setup on my truck (97 PS w/ ZF5, stage I injectors, 3"DP-4" exhaust, HPOP upgrade, comp. wheel) with a Valair stage I clutch, replacing the hydraulics while I was at it. I've also done the hiem joint mod and replaced the plastic pivot bushings for the pedals. I hated the clutch that's in it from day one. It chatters if you don't get a fairly quick engagement, and the pedal effort is horrific (for a daily driver at least).

I couple months ago, I noticed a sort of howling sound when I pushed the clutch in. It's intermittent, and seems to show up most often when coming to a stop after a longer drive at speed. I pulled off the inspection cover, and the clutch itself looks like new, but something's gone very wrong with the throwout bearing. I suspect it's not a much of a bearing anymore, and the clutch fingers are sliding across the face of it. I've attached a couple pictures I was able to take with an endoscope camera.

So obviously it has to come apart, and I can't bear the thought of putting it back together with that setup I can't stand. Thing is, what is out there that can handle the extra power I've got without the rough engagement and stiff pedal? I can overpower the current clutch, actually, but only if I really push it hard, and only for a couple seconds before the EGTs get out of control. So I guess I'm not expecting there to be anything that does all that, and I'm willing to trade off some holding power for driveability. The ones I'm considering are: LuK (good for the price, but probably too weak), Hays (seems like a good value, but no reports I can find), South Bend (not sure I'd be getting anything different than Valair). I also see a couple Kevlar/organic "heavy duty" clutches on RockAuto (AMS Automotive brand), but not going to go the cheap/unknown direction without some good reports. Would appreciate any input...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I talked to Valair, and they were helpful in terms of providing information, but didn't offer anything in terms of covering what's probably their mistake (I'm withholding judgement until I see what the bearing retainer/sleeve that the throwout bearing rides on looks like – I've got a new one coming). I rented a transmission jack today and started pulling things apart today. As soon as I pulled the slave cylinder out and released that pressure, a chunk of metal dropped out...

Anyway, Valair uses both LuK and Valeo pieces. I thought for sure I had the LuK setup, but then I noticed there are no locating pins on the LuK flywheel, and the mounting ears are another tell-tale. Mine has the locating pin and the ears look like Valeo. I'm still not 100%, but the good news is that Autozone (which I usually avoid unless it's for a can of engine paint or something) can get Valeo kits, and actually cheaper than Rock Auto. If somehow I missed, I can get the LuK kit from Napa. Hopefully I don't end up with a clutch that I have to baby, but the clutch that was in it when I got it wasn't that bad (stock-type DMF setup, but not original).

I'll update if I find something that points elsewhere, but it looks like two thumbs down on Valair clutches. The only plus to that clutch was that it would hold more power. Like I said, I could still make it slip (even after it'd fully engaged), but not doing anything you could sustain. South Bend seems to have fewer complaints, but I have a friend who had a bad experience with them too. Unfortunately, I'm forced to conclude there really isn't anything out there for a modified daily driver, and the "upgraded" aftermarket clutches aren't worth the money if you can get by with a LuK or Valeo. For the $600 or so I spent, I should at least have got a clutch that'd be bulletproof for what I do. Instead, I got four years and <40,000 miles, and had to put up with terrible manners. It wouldn't bother me so much if I'd paid closer to the $400 or so that kit should have cost, but it looks like I paid a stupid markup for the same quality as a Rock Auto special.
 
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