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MX5 Miata Tech Forum

Gurgling sounds when clutch is out

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Akadragon Anne Gregory
Glendora, CA, USA   USA
Hi my name is Anne and I recently purchased a 2013 Club Miata. The gurgling sound starts after the car has warmed up and when I depress the clutch the sound goes away and when I let the clutch out the sound comes back. It has been back to the dealer service 3 times for this. They have replaced the clutch, and transmission. The noise is still there. And after they replaced the transmission there is a bad sulfur smell that fills the cabin and is making my eyes burn and severe headaches and so I took it back and they said the smell was coming from the clutch but wasn’t true because clutch as been replaced and still smells. Could something have happened to the catalytic converter when they replaced the transmission? I hope someone can help me with some sort of direction to go because the mechanic keeps saying everything is fixed and it’s not. They only test drive it for about 4 miles and at 4 miles you don’t hear or smell anything. After driving on the freeway and the engine is hot is when the smell starts and so when I get home and pull in the driveway you can hear the loud gurgling sound and then I smell the sulfur even more because I am parked and it fills the cabin. So definitely two different things going on. The gurgling sound was what I had originally taken the car in for and after they replaced the transmission the sulfur smell started. So now I have both problems going on. Did anyone else have an issue like this with their Mazda?

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MarioO Avatar
MarioO Silver Member Mario Ordonez
Fort Myers, FL, USA   USA
Hi Anne, wow you have fallen down the rabbit hole of auto repair. That being said, lets start from the beginning:
1. did you buy this car from a Mazda Dealer?
2. How soon after you purchased your car did the gurgling sound start?
3. While you are driving and making gear changes does, do you hear the gurgling every time you depress the clutch pedal?
4. After each visit to the dealer service, did they give you a diagnoses of the problem and the reason for replacing the clutch and or the transmission?
5. How soon after each repair did the gurgling sound return and how many miles had you driven?
6. The sulfur smell is a secondary problem, but could be related to or caused by the work being done.

I own a 2014 Miata Grand Tourer, with 6 speed manual transmission and I have 27,000 miles with no problems So I can sympathize with you and share your frustration, I just hope I can help you solve your problem before you give up on your Miata.

If you only hear the gurgling sound when the car is in neutral and the engine is running and it goes away once you engage a gear and the car starts moving once you let out the clutch in first gear does the sound go away?

I think your problem has nothing to do with the clutch or the transmission and I am surprised that the dealer's service department have spend all this labor and parts without solving your problem. The smell is coming from a leaky exhaust system. A leaking exhaust system can be noisy and make a gurgling sound while the engine is idling with the transmission in neutral.

Do you have a family member or a good friend who has general knowledge about cars and the engine and ask them to help you isolate the problem. If you can, use your smart phone to make a small mp4 clip of your car while it is making that sound.
Have the hood up to help locate the origin of the sound.
Lastly sloppy workmanship can cause fluids to be spilled on the exhaust system and burn causing a bad smell.


20002012Roadster Avatar
20002012Roadster Glen Nelson
Knoxville, TN, USA   USA
Sounds like the previous owner did not know how to use a clutch. That sounds like the throw out bearing is out. That would still require replacement of the clutch. I know it is expensive but you might consider upgrading to a little stronger clutch ACT is a good one. I would also go ahead and put in a lighter flywheel. The dealer would not do that but it can be done. If you are just driving around town and not pushing it in the curves a regular clutch is fine. Good luck in getting things better - I have a 2012 Sport

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Akadragon Anne Gregory
Glendora, CA, USA   USA
Thank you for your input! The clutch is replaced but still have the sound and it’s once the engine gets nice and hot. The car is back in service with the dealership and they are going to put their master tech on it, so I’m living on a prayer that he or she can figure it out.

Akadragon Anne Gregory
Glendora, CA, USA   USA
Thank you Mario for your input. The car was purchased this year as a certified preowned from the Mazda Dealership. The gurgling rock sound happens when the clutch is out so you can hear it loudly in neutral and idling and faintly while driving. The only time it goes away is when the clutch is depressed. It also starts making the noise after the engine is good and hot. Not when the engine is cold and you first start driving for about 30 minutes. Also the sulfur smell starts at the same time so whether it’s connected in some way or not is not known.
Originally when I bought the car I thought the clutch sounded a little louder than my 2016 Mazda 3. But i thought different car, different sound and the Miata is older so didn’t think much of it. I bought the car in March of this year and the sound started to get progressively louder and by June a couple of month later it was loud so that’s when I took it in. So the dealership has been trying to solve the gurgling sound issue for about 3 months. After they replaced the transmission is when the sulfur smell started and it’s been 2 months of that. So the car is back at the dealership being looked at by another master tech and so I’m waiting word on it this week. I hope they find it.

MarioO Avatar
MarioO Silver Member Mario Ordonez
Fort Myers, FL, USA   USA
I'm sorry you are still having problems and am glad you have taken it to another Master Mechanics and they find the problem. The one thing that concerns me is that when a clutch and or a transmission is replaced as in this case the clutch bearing is checked and replaced a long with the clutch as a worn or slipping clutch will leave burned marks or heat discoloration on the flywheel and cause wear and tear on the bearing. improper use of the clutch like riding the clutch pedal or slipping the clutch to start off in first gear will also damage the bearing. If the service department did not inspect the bearing or failed to install a new one with a new clutch or installing a transmission that bearing should have been changed as it had a lot of mileage.

Please let us know what work was done to solve your problem.

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