When Chevrolet introduced the first all-new Corvette in more than a decade, the C5 1997 Corvette was the most advanced ever up to that time. The 1997 Corvette offered a huge rush of excitement with its hydroformed box frame, transaxle and torque tube driveline, state-of-the-art suspension system and all-new 345-horse LS1 aluminum V-8. Corvette buyers had never experienced anything like it before. To hit the road in this thing, you quickly understood the time-proven Corvette name continued to set a global standard for hot American sports car performance. Buyers wanted the kind of performance and prestige only Corvette could deliver.
With the Corvette’s new brand of performance came advanced technology that made these sports cars more challenging to service. They were a beast on the track and in the repair shop. Chevrolet delivered these cars with durable, high-performance hydraulic clutch packages that were designed to perform very well for a long period of time. We’ve seen a lot of them survive well over 100,000 miles without breaking a sweat. As C5- and C6-generation Corvettes continue to rack up the miles, more and more of them are in need of a clutch replacement.
We’re working with a 2002 Corvette that has had a lot of high-performance road course mileage over the years thanks in part to a Magnuson supercharger, which has elevated horsepower and torque significantly. As a result, the factory clutch has worn out. Centerforce came to our rescue with a DYAD DS multi-disc clutch that has been developed to meet the needs of modern high-end performance cars like the C5 and C6 Corvette.
Corvette owners want a brute, high-performance clutch that can offer smooth engagement, quiet operation, light pedal effort and high-power holding capacity. This is what we have in our DYAD DS multi-disc clutch from Centerforce. It delivers better performance than the factory clutch when these cars were new. Response is crisp and exhilarating.
If you take your C5/C6 to a shop to have the Centerforce DYAD DS clutch installed, expect to pay $1,200-$2,000 to have the work done because labor time on this one is quite involved. Expect a shop to spend two days getting it done. Much of the rear suspension must be removed, along with the entire exhaust system, heat shields and the transaxle system. Some shops elect to remove the entire rear suspension system. However, this is not necessary according to Jason Scudellari, our own tech center manager who is performing this clutch replacement. You need only remove the cradle that supports the suspension and transaxle, which saves a lot of time.
If you’re going to tackle this job yourself, you’re going to want a lift, though you can probably do this lying on your back on the garage floor. Because the transaxle and torque tube are nearly as long as the chassis, you’re going to need help muscling it out and back in. You will need very tall three-ton jack stands, a floor jack, a low-profile transmission jack and a complete array of workshop tools you can source from Harbor Freight if you don’t have them already.
It is strongly suggested that you replace the hydraulic clutch slave and pilot bearing while you’re in there. And while you’re at it, you might also want to think about replacing the rear axle halfshafts. All of these components can be sourced from suppliers such as Summit Racing Equipment and Corvette Central.
When the installation is complete, you will marvel at how different your C5/C6 feels. The DYAD DS clutch delivers smooth yet crisp engagement without slippage. It gets LS power to the drive wheels without hesitation. Vette
Here are the tools you’re going to need, according to Corvette Central.
Torx T15 bit
Torx T30 bit
Flywheel holding tool (you may also use a large common screwdriver)
Transmission jack (it is recommend to use two, though you can get away with one)
Four three-ton jack stands (you need height for this job)
Ford air conditioning and fuel line disconnect tool
Remote slave cylinder fluid bleeder
Slave cylinder (Corvette Central PN 535050)
4.1 quarts GM Synchromesh Fluid (Corvette Central PN 531196)
Blue thread locker (Loctite)
Clutch alignment tool (included in Centerforce kit)
Two 16-ounce bottles of brake fluid
Small vice grips
Flat blade screwdrivers (several sizes)
1. Clutch replacement begins with the removal of the center console to gain access to the shifter, which has to be removed to free up the transaxle. Be sure to disconnect all the electrical connectors. Most of the fasteners in the console are 10mm hex-head or T15 Torx.
2. The shifter grommet and handle are next, which will free up the massive transaxle and torque tube assembly underneath.
3. The exhaust system has to be removed for access to the powertrain. You’re going to disconnect the exhaust system up front at the exhaust manifolds and in back at the muffler flanges and hangers.
4. The exhaust system is disconnected at the muffler flanges ahead of the rear suspension. It is suggested that you replace these gaskets at this time.
5. Disconnect the three fasteners at each exhaust manifold flange. Spray these fasteners down with penetrating lubricant with the engine cold before attempting removal.
6. Once the exhaust system has been disconnected ahead of the transaxle, removal of the mufflers and tailpipes is straightforward.
7. The mufflers are modular with pipes welded to the mufflers to form an integral package. Both are put aside in a safe location while we remove the driveline.
8. This heat shield is removed to gain access to the transaxle and torque tube.
9. The toe-adjust rods and ends are disconnected to free up the brake assembly and halfshafts. You do not need to remove the brakes.
10. The coilover shocks are disconnected from the lower control arms. We are not removing the rear suspension, but instead the lower support cradle.
11. The rear, lower control arm attachment points (not at the eccentrics) are disconnected as shown. If you loosen or remove any of the eccentrics in error, you will throw the alignment off.
12. The lower ball joints are busted loose with a pickle fork. We ran into ball joints that wanted to turn with the wrench. Fortunately, the ball joint stud has an Allen wrench provision where you can lock the stud while loosening the nut.
13. The axle halfshaft nuts are removed next to free up the halfshaft. This will enable us to pull the halfshafts from the transaxle.
14. Each halfshaft is tied to both the knuckle/hub and the transaxle. Once the locknuts are removed, you can remove the halfshaft from the /hub. If you need to whack the halfshaft with a hammer to get it out of the hub, install the locknut to protect the threads of the halfshaft. Screw it onto the shaft until it is flush with the end. This is a good time to replace the halfshafts.
15. A large common screwdriver or pry bar is used to pop the halfshaft out of the transaxle.
16. Each halfshaft is pulled out of the transaxle. A C-ring in the halfshaft keeps it safely secured inside the differential. During installation, press the halfshaft into the differential until you feel it pop into place. That’s all you have to do.
17. The TREMEC transaxle is supported with a screw jack until we can get a transmission jack underneath.
18. The rear suspension and transaxle support cradle is removed next as shown. You don’t have to remove the complete rear suspension system, only the cradle.
19. This is the C5/C6 TREMEC T-56 six-speed and Getrag transaxle with the cradle removed. The axle ratio is 3.42:1 for C5 and C6 with manual transmission.
20. If ever you’ve looked at this part and wondered what it did, it is known as a vibration damper, which damps transaxle vibration.
21. The entire transaxle and torque tube are lowered from the chassis as shown. You can do this by yourself. However, it’s always good to have a buddy’s help for stability.
22. We learned it is impossible to remove the bellhousing with the engine in the vehicle. Fortunately, you can replace the clutch and flywheel with the bellhousing installed. The original factory clutch is removed at this time. You will need to hand crank the engine over (rotate) to get to all the bolts.
23. The original flywheel shows heat checking from a lot of full-throttle driving over the years. We’re going to replace the flywheel.
24. The Centerforce DYAD multi-disc clutch gets you hooked up with a fully damped clutch system engineered specifically for C5 and C6 Corvettes sporting incredible amounts of power. You get a patented ball bearing pressure plate; multi-disc floating disc and drive disc clutch; and a quiet, positive disc floater, which all adds up to a smooth engagement with mild pedal effort. What’s more, it is precision balanced and can withstand 1,300 lb-ft of torque.
25. Always replace the pilot bearing when changing out the clutch, especially in light of how involved the C5/C6 clutch replacement is. Coat the new pilot bearing with a light touch of chassis grease, but don’t overdo it. Too much grease and you risk contaminating the clutch friction surfaces.
26. The clutch and flywheel bolts should get blue Permatex thread locker (available from Summit Racing) to ensure fastener security.
27. The flywheel bolts are torqued in one-third values in a star pattern ending at 74 ft-lb. Once you have torqued all the bolts, go back and check the final torque again. Spray brake cleaner over the clutch contact surfaces and allow it to dry.
28. The Centerforce DYAD DS clutch is installed one element at a time. Take care not to touch the friction surfaces with your greasy hands. Hold the clutch discs as you would an old record album or compact disc—around the edges and lay them into place. We’re using the provided clutch alignment tool.
29. The floating friction plate is installed next, which goes between the friction discs. Why all these clutch discs? Having two friction discs and a plate gives the clutch an abundance of holding power because you get more surface area.
30. The drive friction disc is installed last, before the pressure plate. Install the clutch alignment tool to get it all centered.
31. Install the pressure plate with all of the red balance marks lined up from all of the clutch discs and plates. This large common screwdriver makes an excellent flywheel holder when you’re torqueing the bolts. You can also pick up a flywheel holder from Harbor Freight.
32. The clutch pressure plate bolts get a dab of Permatex blue thread locker and are then torqued in one-third values to 35 ft-lb in a star pattern. Because you cannot remove the bellhousing, you must rotate the flywheel and clutch and slowly snug all of the bolts until the clutch plate is fully seated. Never tighten any one bolt fully all at once.
33. We’re installing a new clutch slave cylinder from Corvette Central. Upon installation, the slave must be bled to remove any air trapped inside. This should give you a firm clutch pedal.
34. The transaxle and torque tube assembly are reinstalled along with the rear suspension and exhaust system. The fasteners should get a dose of blue thread locker.
35. The rear suspension cradle and components should look like this. Recheck all the fasteners for tightness. Be thorough in your visual inspection.
Photos by Jim Smart