1. My Car Starts Out Slowly but My Engine Races
This is known as clutch slippage. As you release the clutch pedal and accelerate, the vehicle moves slowly while the engine races, usually in high gear.
Slipping is common when a clutch disc is worn out. With the friction material almost worn away, the clutch disc has less surface with which to grip the flywheel and pressure plate, making it hard for the engine to transfer rotating power to the transmission.
Another symptom you'll notice is the clutch releasing sooner, without much pressure on the clutch pedal.
But there are other common causes for a slipping clutch, besides a worn-out disc:
- Clutch linkage in need of adjustment
- Clutch linkage or cable binding (cable housing filled with rust)
- Clutch linkage bent, misaligned, or damaged
- Blocked master cylinder compensation port
- Pressure plate weakened or warped
- Clutch assembly contaminated with oil (because an engine or transmission oil seal is leaking)
- Broken motor mount
Note: If you just replaced the clutch (assuming that everything was reinstalled correctly), you may need to give the new clutch time to fully seat. Usually, you need to go easy on the clutch for the first 200 miles.
Is Your Clutch Slipping? A Simple Test
To find out if your clutch is slipping, park in an area with enough space in front of you, away from traffic and people.
- Start the engine and engage the emergency brake.
- Depress the clutch pedal.
- Shift into second or third gear and rev the engine to about 2500 rpm.
- Slowly release the clutch pedal.
As the clutch engages the flywheel and pressure plate, the engine should stall. If the engine doesn't stall, then the clutch is slipping.
2. It's Hard to Get Into Reverse
Clutch problems can also prevent you from getting into or out of reverse or third gear.
A stuck gear may indicate problems with the linkage adjustment, a linkage malfunction, or a warped or damaged clutch plate.
3. I Can't Get My Transmission Into Gear
On a hydraulic system, failure to get into gear may be a sign of low fluid level, problems with the master or slave cylinder or both. Usually, this is accompanied by a change in the way the clutch pedal feels: spongy, loose, or not catching as before.
On a mechanical system, you may be having problems with the clutch disc or pressure plate, release lever, release bearing, shift lever assembly, or control cable.
Worn synchronizers can also cause this problem.
Bad Bushing or Pilot Bearing Symptoms
A bad or failing bushing or pilot bearing may cause problems similar to those caused by other transmission or clutch problems. So make sure to check the bushing or pilot bearing if your transmission exhibits one of the following symptoms:
- stuck in gear
- pops out of gear
- hard to shift gears