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Old 08-10-2008, 05:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question 94 Corolla - really odd clutch problem (help please)

Greetings everyone,

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.

Thanks!
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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??
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Old 08-10-2008, 06:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i'd try replacing the slave cylinder, follow the line from the master to the slave on the trans case. they go bad from time to time. if that doesnt help or it still feels icky, do the master.
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bitter View Post
i'd try replacing the slave cylinder, follow the line from the master to the slave on the trans case. they go bad from time to time. if that doesnt help or it still feels icky, do the master.
The hydraulic line goes to the slave cylinder. it has a very small arm (fork) with rubber boot going into the tranny.
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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more troubleshooting

Bitter and retiredat44,

thanks for the input there. Got a brand new slave cylinder from the local dealership ($78) but the problem remains the same after it being replaced, the investment doesn't bother me since I consider this ongoing maintenance for a car that's almost 150k miles. Bought the master cylinder from NAPA ($35) I'm guessing the fact that it does not include the reservoir is what makes it cheaper from the $60-70 prices you find elsewhere online. The bolts that plug inside the cab are quite on a uncomfortable place to work underneath-and-behind the panel so it took us a while to get the right tools, but once we had all the bolts it seems as if you can't take it out without removing the brake master cylinder and/or the booster right behind it. Waiting until Monday when they can look up the instructions on how to remove it to see if we can skip messing with the brake system. Will post some pictures whenever that's done.
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Old 08-17-2008, 01:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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you can simply unbolt the brake booster with the brake master attached and move it back from the firewall just enough to get the clutch master in and out.

now i suggested a master after slave, assuming you had bled the system completely and correctly.
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I know this post is pretty dead, but any follow up from the original poster? My buddy has a 91 Corolla with similar symptoms. We have bled the clutch already. Slave cylinder and master cylinder are next on the list for replacement, but I just want to make sure we not missing anything. Thanks.
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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With the age of the parts, just replace them.

Please dont add to really old posts. Just make a fresh one if your questions werent answered.

-SP
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedy25 View Post
With the age of the parts, just replace them.

Please dont add to really old posts. Just make a fresh one if your questions werent answered.

-SP
thats pretty silly.

next thing, someone will be telling the guy to SEARCH!!!
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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IMHO a thread isn't dead until a solution has been given or a moderator locks it.

I did an additional search and found that you can remove additional air from the system by pushing in on the slave cylinder rod when the pedal is down and the bleeder is open. Time to give it a try.
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turblown View Post
IMHO a thread isn't dead until a solution has been given or a moderator locks it.

I did an additional search and found that you can remove additional air from the system by pushing in on the slave cylinder rod when the pedal is down and the bleeder is open. Time to give it a try.
likely the 2 cylinders will need replaced.
they generally cant just get air in them. and if they fail to disengage the clutch fully, theyre bad.
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:10 PM   #11 (permalink)
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gen 7 original poster update

Quote:
Originally Posted by turblown View Post
I know this post is pretty dead, but any follow up from the original poster? My buddy has a 91 Corolla with similar symptoms. We have bled the clutch already. Slave cylinder and master cylinder are next on the list for replacement, but I just want to make sure we not missing anything. Thanks.
Hey I'm the original poster, just saw this heads up in my email inbox.

In my case the problem solved after replacing the master cylinder. It had sort of a 'bouy' cap that would not hold up the hydrualic pressure as it should - that's why the pedal would slip if you pressed it slowly or let your foot rest on it, but it was also the reason why it would 'hold up a charge' for 2-5 seconds and allow shifting if you pressed the clutch pedal in a quick fashion.

Moved away and decided to sell the Corolla, went off to someone in Maryland mid-2010.
If it wasn't because they're about to hit 20 years out on the roads and don't have any sort of "classic" charm to them, I'd buy another 7th gen in a heartbeat. Never a fan of 6th gen shape though.

Better late than never, thanks to Bitter and retiredat44 who helped me back then.
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