If you press your clutch pedal and it goes all the way to the floor with little-to-no resistance, it could be the sign of a clutch or transmission system problem. If you are unable to shift at all or the vehicle won’t stay in gear, then there is definitely a significant issue that you will need to address.
There are two common types of clutch systems found in most manual transmission vehicles. Some use a cable-based system while others use hydraulic controls. The easiest way to tell is to take a peek under the hood. If you know what you are looking for, you can check along the firewall. If there are two master cylinders, then you have a hydraulic clutch system (the other master cylinder being the master brake cylinder). If there is only one, then you have a cable clutch system.
Loose or inoperable clutch pedals are usually caused by one of the following clutch system issues:
Broken Clutch Cable
This is the most common problem in cable clutch systems. The cable itself is likely damaged, whether it has completely snapped, frayed or become disconnected on either end. This happens a lot in older vehicles, and thankfully is a relatively easy automotive issue to repair.
Damaged Connector Rod
In a cable clutch system, the clutch cable runs through a throw-out fork and bearing. The parts are connected by a small rod, that is susceptible to damage. Sometimes, it simply falls out or breaks and leads to the clutch cable issues you may be experiencing.
Failing Master Cylinder
In most loose clutch cases with a hydraulic system, it is a probably an issue with the master cylinder. Internal or external damage to the cylinder can cause the hydraulic fluid to leak out and it simply will not perform properly once the fluid is too low. Sometimes, it is simply a worn seal that needs to be replaced.
Failing Slave Cylinder
If it’s not the master cylinder to blame, then it is likely the slave cylinder. This is less common, but is usually caused by the same issues. Either some sort of damage or a weak/worn seal will lead to fluid leaks that result in a failing cylinder.
You may have low hydraulic fluid levels in the master or slave cylinders and/or hydraulic lines. This will eventually cause the system to fail and you will notice it with the clutch either being extra loose or super sticky.
If your clutch system is acting strange (loose pedal, sticky pedal, trouble shifting, etc.), don’t wait too long to have your vehicle looked at by a transmission and drivetrain expert. If you are in the Central Valley, you can bring your vehicle into Ralph’s Transmission for a free inspection. We’ll let you know exactly what the problem is and what recommendations we have for specific repairs or maintenance services.
Call Ralph’s Transmission today at 209.526.1909 or schedule your service appointment online.