Proper diagnosis is the key first step with clutch problems

Find out the key first step to diagnosing clutch problems on manual transmissions.

When you're satisfied with the alignment, ease the transmission ahead to engage the input shaft with the clutch splines. To "feel" where the two are at, sometimes it's helpful to leave the trans in gear so you can turn the input shaft by turning the output yoke. With a little practice, you'll get the feel of the splines engaging in no time.

Once the splines are engaged, move the trans ahead keeping it aligned at all times. You'll be amazed how easy the gearbox will slide in when everything's right.

When the transmission is back in place, install the mounting bolts and torque them to specifications. Connect the shift linkage and any necessary wiring.


Connect the clutch linkage (if it's hydraulic, bleed the system to ensure proper slave cylinder action). Top off the clutch master cylinder when you're through.

Check a shop manual for the clutch free-play specification that applies to that specific model. Never leave a car go without checking and then rechecking the free-play adjustment. If there's too little free play, the throwout bearing may wear out prematurely and the clutch may slip. Too much free play can result in a dragging clutch and gear clash when changing speeds. Although some of today's cars use self-adjusting clutches that appear to leave little felt free play, there is a preliminary adjustment to make sure the self-adjuster works correctly from there.

Finally, road test the car to make sure that the clutch problem is gone.

By following these simple guidelines, you can keep clutch repairs — and customers — from slipping away.

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