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musubk

Very hard to shift, grinding gears

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I was driving my 1977 wagon around the last few nights and it was shifting nice and smooth, then last night it started getting harder, as if the clutch wasn't fully disengaging. I thought the underhood cable adjustment must have loosened up a bit so I tightened it a turn or so, which made little difference. I get in the car to drive today and it's worse, I basically have to just ram it into gear and grind any time I go into 1st or reverse, the others I can usually get with a little rev matching, as if it's still a clutch adjustment problem. But I started tightening the adjustment screw and still no difference, so for an experiment I tightened it ALL the way until it bottomed out, which was around 6 full turns in from where I was previously, and it still made no difference. Any idea what's going on here?

Today is the coldest weather I've driven the car in so far (~5F), is it maybe just a known problem with these cars and cold weather shifting?

Edited by musubk

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When I left work today it was back to its normal (relatively) smooth-shifting self, so I'm not sure what to think of it. The gear oil of unknown age and condition probably isn't doing me any favors in this weather, so I should probably change it out.

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Couldn't hurt to change the oil and I'd check inside the car where the cable hooks to the pedal. It is known to crack in that location and can cause the issue you describe.

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if it is cracked, only solution is to weld that crack, gotta take out the pedal cage out completely to do this correctly, lots of past discussions about this issue..

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Okay, back to this problem again. It's been driving fine since I last posted here, but it started doing it again today. I can't see any crack at the pedal box, but it's hard to see up in there so I could be missing something. But the pedal feels the same as always, the throw doesn't feel hard or wobbly or out-of-whack in any way. It just... doesn't fully disengage the clutch.

It happened when I drove to the gas station. All was fine, I started the car to leave, and suddenly the problem is here. I drove the mile back home, shut the car off, restarted and the problem was gone. I get a few miles down the road and it's back again. It's very hard to get into gear from a standstill, grinding on every shift if I don't rev-match perfectly, and pretty much impossible to get into reverse with the engine running. Sitting still, in gear with the clutch pedal pressed all the way, the car wants to move forward and I have to hold the brake to stay still. I've tried adjusting the cable at the clutch fork and it seems to make little difference no matter where I adjust it. If I tighten the adjustment all the way to where it's bottomed out (around 6 full turns tighter than usual), it still behaves exactly the same. I'm thinking the problem has to be at the release lever or the clutch disc / pressure plate.

Has anyone else out there had a similar problem before?

Edited by musubk

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I just stacked 6 washers under the clutch cable adjustment, then tightened the adjustment all the way in, and still no difference. It did feel stiffer. I also tried it while the cable was completely disconnected. It makes absolutely no difference how the cable is adjusted or if the cable is even connected at all. Something must be wrong in the clutch/pressure plate area.

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Are those forks available new? Do you happen to know a part number? What do people do to fix this? Try to weld in some reinforcement on the fork?

 

I have a new fork for a 1988 wagon. Completely different trans, I know, but any chance that would work?

Edited by musubk

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I don't know if they are still available - what usually happens is the pivot ball grease dries up, it wears into the fork, and blows a hole in it, or a crack propagates down to one of the fork legs and it flexes - not allowing you to push in on the throw out bearing. You would have to call Subaru and see if you can still get one. Otherwise it will require a used one, or a custom made piece. I'm sure someone that's good with a CNC could manufacture a billet one. Cost would be pretty high though I'm sure. 

That's all assuming my guess is even correct. You don't indicate a problem with the cable or pedal, and there's no nasty noises that would accompany a failed throw out that wore through the PP fingers so..... that kinda leaves the fork as the most likely problem. And it's relatively common even on new cars. I had a fork pivot ball blow out just a few months ago on a 2006. My graveyard in my lobby display case has at least 3 or 4 failed forks and those are just the ones customers didn't take home.

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder

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I think your guess is a good one though. I don't see or feel anything out of the ordinary with the cable or pedal, and I can see the top of the fork moving when a friend presses the pedal, so the problem has to be either down at the bottom of the fork or somehow with the pressure plate. The pressure plate and TO bearing are new this summer, and there's no TO noise coming out of it.

Edited by musubk

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When you did the clutch did you remove and grease the fork pivot? This is often neglected. I see many clutches that have recently been replaced only to pull them back out for an avoidable fork failure because the tech didn't bother to grease it. 

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder

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Just for kicks read this and with a flashlight go back under your dashboard for a minute.

Flashlight illuminating the left side of the pedal box. Depress the clutch lever with your right hand as you watch the thin sheet metal of the pedal box at the pivot point.

Look close , look on the inside and outside of the box but entirely in the left side of the box where the pivot pin sits in the box.

 

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I once has a Honda that had an odd feeling to the clutch. Turned-out to be carpet fibers gumming-up/jamming the clutch cable.

the variability of what you experience seems like it could be the cable getting occasionally jammed?

 

otherwise - it seems a lot like a cracked fork as GD says - read about that a few times. Seems more common when people get 'upgraded' clutches in mid-life or older soobs. Stock fork can't handle xtra pressure after it's had 10s or a hundred thousand miles on it.

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I think I found someone on one of the facebook groups to send me another fork, but it'll probably be a couple weeks before I can get in there and see for sure if that's the problem. I just can't see any issues at the pedal assembly or with the cable. I want to have a new clutch/PP/TO bearing on hand when I open it up, just in case the problem is with one of those.

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Late update here, but I've been doing a lot of traveling recently and only today got this problem solved. I thought I'd update here for the sake of closure. The flywheel pilot bearing had partially come apart; all the ball bearings were still in place but the 'side' wall that covers the bearings was missing and a fragment of inner bearing race had broken off and wedged itself between the friction disc and pressure plate, preventing the two parts from being able to move independently, effectively making the friction disc and pressure plate into a single joined part. Therefore my symptom of pushing the clutch pedal, and seeing the cable move the top of the release fork, but it never actually releasing and letting me shift. I had a new clutch kit on hand today because I wasn't sure what I'd find in there, so I replaced the shattered pilot bearing and threw the new friction disc / pressure plate in as well, and she drives beautifully now.

DSC_00162.jpg

Edited by musubk
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