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94 Corolla - really odd clutch problem (help please)
I am a bit puzzled with the problem I’ve been having with my Corolla (sedan DX, 1.8, 5-Spd) since about 2 months ago and I was wondering if something similar had happened to anyone here.
The first symptoms were when I came to a full stop I would engage the clutch pedal and it wouldn’t shift to gear (ie as if I was just trying to force the stick into gear without engaging the clutch).
It also started doing that by just “resting” your foot on the clutch the pedal would just slide down with no pressure at all (ie you would have your foot all the way to the floor however the clutch wasn’t engaged). I could also do this while the car was in motion, regardless of speed, I would let my foot rest on it and without any force it would slide down so that the pedal is all the way in however the car still responds to the gas pedal as if the clutch was totally disengaged (as it should while you are in motion.)
At first it would just do it “every now and then” and I even went on a 3,000 mile trip about a week after I noticed that and it behaved no worse. However ever since I came back within about 2 weeks it worsened a lot (not driveable anymore) and here are the key facts:
1. TROUBLE STARTING: car hesitates to start and has a hard time maintaining idle rpm’s, especially in gear. Many times it just drops and dies.
2. ENGAGING: as I said before if you just let your foot on the pedal, it will slide all the way down without pressure (and remains unengaged, you cannot shift). However, if you press the pedal fast, 95% of the time you will get pressure for a 2-10 second span. (and you will be able to shift)
3. WE TRIED BLEEDING THE HYDRAULIC CLUTCH FLUID: a couple friends of mine mechanic apprentices came up with troubleshooting that it was likely there was air in the fluid line that was causing the problem. We flushed it, and indeed some air came out (along with some very dirty fluid) and put brand new DOT-3 on it, however the problem persists. There seems to be a slight improvement in getting pressure while engaging the clutch, but overall it behaves the same way.
4. CLUTCH ASSEMBLY WAS REPLACED ABOUT 10,000 miles “AGO”: I don’t know if it was the clutch itself or the whole chutch assembly and key components (other discs or plates which I can’t think of right now) since I wasn’t in town when that happened. Taking this into account they have backtracked to the problem probably arising at the master cylinder, due to the state of the liquid and age of the vehicle (vehicle has quite a bit of corrosion too) it might be that the o-ring, pin or other component in the cylinder are worn out and thus letting the hydraulics “slip through”. There are no leaks whatsoever in the line from the master cylinder to the clutch.
5. THERE’S A “SQUEAKY SOUND” COMING FROM THE CLUTCH “PULLEY”: the part right above the transmission/clutch box where you can see the motion of the pedal being applied is making a squeaky sound I did not hear before (but I probably wouldn’t have noticed with the engine running). Could this mean a problem with that part? You can also see this part “disengaging” (ie coming back to its original position) even though the clutch is “all the way in”. Some air is released in the cap of the fluid reservoir which could mean that air is being released “back through the line” which supports the master cylinder theory.
6. THE FLUID RESERVOIR CAP IS WET: we noticed that as soon as the hood was popped. Is this normal? As I mentioned air seems to be going through that "exhaust" the cap has on top.
Anyway, if someone has any ideas or suggestions that would be great. If you need more info please let me know. For now what we have planned is replacing the aging master cylinder assembly, but we’re all ears!!! Hope this also helps someone if they have a similar problem in the future.
P.S. I also heard something about a "slave cylinder". What (and where) should I be looking for this, if it has anything to do with it??