Help! Is the problem the clutch, the clutch master cylinder, or both??

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by User38221, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. User38221

    User38221 Guest

    Here is a brief summary of the problem on my '94 Civic EX coupe (93k miles):

    -6 months ago: mechanic mentioned that clutch master cylinder has a leak
    -shortly thereafter noticed that the car was harder to shift through the gears
    -a couple of days ago: the clutch suddenly started having trouble engaging and
    disengaging. e.g. i'd be in 2nd or 3rd and it would be locked there even with
    the clutch depressed. after a few seconds i'd eventually be able to shift out
    of those gears. Also, after shifting into 1st or 2nd it would sometimes
    "klunk" as it engaged. i imagine the same would happen in higher gears but I
    never shifted that high.

    The clutch doesnt seem to be slipping once the transmission is in gear. Only
    when I tried to shift in or out of gears would I have a problem....maybe on
    about 25% of the shifts I had to make. I've only driven the car for about 15
    minutes since the clutch suddenly got worse so this is what I'm going by.

    Since I already knew that the clutch master cylinder was leaking I thought that
    that would be the extent of my repairs.

    However, I took the car for the first time to this new garage (non-dealer honda
    shop) and they, after a short test drive, said I need a new clutch. They were
    certain that it was not the clutch master cylinder. They said most of them leak
    a bit at that age, but he didnt have a satisfying answer when I said that since
    the cylinder only has a little bit of oil in it to begin with, any
    leakage--even a small bit--would likely necessitate replacing it. On the
    other hand, the clutch fluid in the reservoir has barely dropped at all.

    They're convinced that my problem resides with the springs in the clutch disc,
    saying how common this is with Civics and Accords, how one of the mechanics in
    the shop had to have the same repair done 3 times, yadda yadda yadda.

    Is this guy a good mechanic or is he trying to make me overhaul my clutch when
    merely replacing the clutch master cylinder will do? I thought my clutch still
    had lots of life in it: i dont race, pop the clutch, nor shift crappily....but
    i do drive it "enthusiastically". The clutch is still engaging at about the
    halfway point of the clutch pedal's travel--nowhere near the top which is what
    I expected.

    I'm on a very tight student budget and want to sell the car within a few months
    so obviously I'm trying to keep my repair costs low.

    thanks in advance for any advice
    User38221, Jun 15, 2004
  2. User38221

    motsco_ _ Guest

    Get the clutch hydraulics bled, for cheap, and you'll know right away
    who'se telling the truth. It's the same as bleeding the brakes, but
    takes about ten minutes if you have a helper. DON'T push the pedal too
    near the floor.

    You didn't mention how often you've been checking and topping up the
    fluid... That would have helped a lot.

    motsco_ _, Jun 15, 2004
  3. User38221

    Mista Bone Guest

    How does the clutch pedal itself feel?????
    If the pedal is soft and engagement at the VERY bottom, near the floor,
    then you have air in the lines. Bleed the air out and maintain proper fluid
    level. A leaky CMC will still have enough fluid to last 3000 miles between
    oil changes.

    Yes it is common for the springs to pop out of the clutch disc. More common
    on Integras than Hondas.

    I'm "D" tranny guru, I specialize in 92-95 Civic trannys, but also play with
    88-91 and 96-00 Civic trannys.

    Email me if you have any questions.
    Mista Bone, Jun 15, 2004
  4. User38221

    User38221 Guest

    Subject: Re: Help! Is the problem the clutch, the clutch master cylinder,
    Get the clutch hydraulics bled, for cheap, and you'll know right away
    actually i did state that the fluid reservoir has hardly dropped at all.
    specifically, i added just a little bit of fluid to top it up 3 months ago and
    the level hasnt dropped any since.

    i was wondering why the transmission would go from somewhat sticky shifting
    to--all of a sudden-- messed-up shifting where the clutch was no longer
    engaging and disengaging properly. are you saying that pre-existing air in the
    line caused this situation?
    User38221, Jun 15, 2004
  5. User38221

    User38221 Guest

    the clutch pedal feels fine. the clutch has been engaging and disengaging in
    the middle area of the pedal's travel. the mechanic stated that my clutch
    pedal is a bit heavy which would become lighter and quicker after the clutch is
    overhauled....or that might be part of his sales pitch.

    is there anything else i can do to ascertain the problem or does it look like i
    need to drop the tranny?
    User38221, Jun 15, 2004
  6. User38221

    SoCalMike Guest

    get a "mityvac" brake bleeder kit, and you can DIY, with no pedal pumping.
    SoCalMike, Jun 15, 2004
  7. Some facts:

    It (master cylinder) does not have to leak to be bad. In fact, most
    don't. Can be bypassing oil by the piston seals. So resevoir level
    changes are not necessarily conclusive.

    It could also be your slave cylinder. Same as above. Master cylinder
    up top. Slave cylinder mounted right by the clutch/flywheel housing.

    You can see the clutch lever being accuated by the slave cylinder.
    Have some one push the clutch and watch the lever. If it is not
    moving, your problem is the master or slave or both. Change them
    both, problem solved. I changed them myself. Helps to have little
    hands to get to everything, but I don't, so helps to cuss

    If it is moving the lever, the problem is internal to the clutch.

    this is for a 90 but I don't think honda has changed the basic master/
    slave hydraulic system.
    Frank Boettcher, Jun 15, 2004
  8. User38221

    z Guest

    Well, if there's still fluid in the reservoir, the leak shouldn't be
    actually affecting the clutch action. The cylinder refills from the
    reservoir and shouldn't get air into the system.
    I'm afraid it's likely to be the clutch, in some way. I've not had the
    problem you describe, but I've had the throwout bearing go early. I'm
    afraid Honda clutch parts aren't any too overdesigned.
    Of course, since it's such a major operation, before getting into the
    clutch, you ought to make sure it's not anything else. Look at the
    linkage between the slave cylinder and the clutch and make sure it's
    not screwed up in some way. If you're going to replace the master
    cylinder anyway, might as well do that first on the 1 in a million
    chance that that fixes it. It's relatively cheap, by comparison.
    z, Jun 16, 2004
  9. User38221

    Mista Bone Guest

    sounds like a clutch is in order.

    Mista Bone, Jun 16, 2004
  10. User38221

    User38221 Guest

    For those following my little Civic saga:

    the problem turned out to be a spring popping out of the clutch disc. Another
    spring was about to go and the release bearing was noisy so it was about due
    for a clutch replacement anyway. i'm a bit envious of those who got a few more
    years and few more 10k miles out of their original clutch.

    the clutch master cylinder is working fine even though it's leaking a bit
    around the seal.

    it's shifting like butter now...hallelujah brother!
    User38221, Jun 27, 2004
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