If you have a 2008 Impreza or WRX and the clutch is starting to creak or pop be aware that it may be starting to have the spot welds break on the bracket that is affixed to the inner firewall.
If you google this symptom you’ll find that there have been more than a handful of complaints about this issue. What happens is that over time and repeated use, the bracket that the clutch/brake pedal assembly bolts to pulls free from the firewall. It is held in place by spot welds and the spot welds pull away from the firewall literally breaking small holes in the firewall. It is seems more likely to happen when a clutch is allowed to get worn because as the clutch gets worn, the pedal assembly loses some of it’s leverage over the release forks and more effort is needed to release the clutch. This is also true of some performance clutch applications. This puts more stress on the bracket and may cause it to break loose.
Once the bracket pulls the welds out, the pedal cannot move the release fork as far and it results in difficulty getting the car into gear.
Now to see the holes that were created in the windshield cowl area- a total of 6 broken welds
Here’s the bracket removed from the car before drilling and bolting in place:
Now we’re ready for re-assembly. 6mm bolts with loctite applied, self locking nuts on back side and large fender washers on front side to spread out the load. Also paintable body seam sealer applied under washers and bolts to make sure all is water tight.
Now that we’re done, the repair is stronger than the original because it distributes the load over a much larger area than the original 6 spot welds (also a small 7th on an ear on the interior too).
Once it was sealed up we cleaned up the area and painted it with a metallic blue to match the rest of the car. Once the cowl trim is back in place it’s not even noticeable from the outside and will now stand up to the rigorous demands it was originally intended for.
I’ve seen posts of other people using sheet metal screws, rivets, welding etc. but in my opinion this is one of the best methods if not the best of insuring it will never happen again. It’s not for the faint of heard as it involves completely removing the dash, steering column, pedal assembly and windshield wiper cowl trim to access all 7 spot weld points.
The bottom line is if your clutch is getting worn and becoming stiff and you own a 2008 Impreza, WRX or STi, don’t let it go too long. It may not keep this issue from occurring but it may take longer to happen if the clutch doesn’t have to work as hard.
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