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Old 12-11-2012, 07:22 PM   #1
spidey07
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Default Acura TL 6MT really doesn't want to go into gear

2004 Acura TL, 6 speed MT, 300k miles

The transmission has always been butter smooth even with the high miles. Out of the blue a few days ago I noticed shifting into 5th or 6th was met with a good amount of resistance. Then the next day all gears including reverse, including grinding moving into 5th gear (that never happens).

Today it was a struggle to even get into 1st or reverse, even pushing as hard as I really wanted to on the shifter. I was thinking it was synchros worn out, but I started treating it like I was trying to shift without the synchros. Blipping the throttle somewhat on a shift and as the RPMs fell while putting mild pressure on the shifter it would "fall" into gear.

And then the light bulb went off, I've played around with shifting without the clutch and that's how it felt. Getting into 1st while stopped is almost impossible now, while moving I can get around it.

When stopped, clutch depressed and trying to move into 1st gear from neutral I noticed the car ever so barely tries to move forward...and I mean BARELY to the point that I could be doing that by just moving my body forward. The engine just BARELY drops 100 rpm.

Does this tell me the clutch is not fully engaged even though my foot is on the floor? I'm guessing it's hopefully clutch fluid but any other ideas?

Thanks

-edit-
pics of clutch that was eventually replaced, hmm...I see no springs on the friction plate.


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Old 12-11-2012, 07:37 PM   #2
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nice car, I also own a 3rd gen TL 6MT. Acurazine has many knowledgeable posters. It's probably not it but for awhile many have said 3rd gear was sometimes a problem. The fix was GM syncromesh fluid. It worked better than the dealer taking the tranny apart and switching parts. I'd try this out first since it costs like $14 a bottle so $28 total. And of course check your other fluids. I try to fix things cheapest/least time -> expensive/time consuming.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:39 PM   #3
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Try pumping the clutch and check the clutch fluid level.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:46 PM   #4
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Yup, sounds like the clutch is dragging.

I would not continue driving it like this though as you're basically putting a lot of extra stress on the shift linkage, the shift forks, and the synchro rings. Honestly, I'd go so far as to have it towed to the shop if you won't be working on it yourself. Yes, that's a little excessively cautious, but since you have 300,000 miles on it already it sounds like you intend to keep it for a long time so I'd say best to err on that side of things.

EDIT: If it's a hydraulic clutch, just adding more fluid won't fix it if there's air in the system. You'll need to bleed the system to get the air out too.

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Old 12-11-2012, 07:52 PM   #5
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Great, thanks Zenmnervolt.

If I've got air in the clutch hydro, given the mileage, does that mean leak somewhere? Will I see this as lowered clutch fluid in the master cylinder or not? Or was I on the borderline with the air and the lower temps have finally begun to manifest with temps now into the 30s? Can I bleed the hydrolics myself?

I agree with having it looked at, but now is not the time work wise. My work drive is 6th gear the whole way...75 miles one way. The wear/load should be nil as long as the entire linkage is hooked up though, right?

You are correct though, I plan on keeping her. It's nice to hear it's probably clutch fluid and not something more internal to tranny.
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Old 12-11-2012, 08:23 PM   #6
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Yep. Clutch fluid way low. Resivoir almost dry.

Seems an easy fix for the shop so do I have them flush it with new fluid and bleed/check for leaks? Or is this something I can myself by just adding fluid and bleed air out?
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:10 PM   #7
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Give the boot on the slave cylinder a squeeze, see if you're leaking fluid around the piston shaft seal.
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spidey07 View Post
Great, thanks Zenmnervolt.

If I've got air in the clutch hydro, given the mileage, does that mean leak somewhere? Will I see this as lowered clutch fluid in the master cylinder or not? Or was I on the borderline with the air and the lower temps have finally begun to manifest with temps now into the 30s? Can I bleed the hydrolics myself?

I agree with having it looked at, but now is not the time work wise. My work drive is 6th gear the whole way...75 miles one way. The wear/load should be nil as long as the entire linkage is hooked up though, right?

You are correct though, I plan on keeping her. It's nice to hear it's probably clutch fluid and not something more internal to tranny.
If the reservoir is almost dry, you've got a leak somewhere, regardless of mileage. Hydraulic fluid doesn't just disappear. Most likely either the master or the slave cylinder needs to be rebuilt/replaced. Generally I replace them as a pair out of precaution since they've both had the same number of cycles.

If now isn't the time work wise, then rent a car.

With the clutch dragging, you're putting huge wear on the synchros every time you shift and if those wear out, then you've got pretty major transmission repair. Once you're in gear it's obviously not going to cause extra wear, but every time you shift the synchros are going to be working against the clutch and that's a lot of extra strain. Plus the extra force required to get into each gear.

If the rest of the car is in good shape and you're going to keep it for a long time, then fix it now before you cause more damage. Not only is this bad for the transmission, but you're also burning up your clutch with every shift.

I know it's not convenient, but right now you shouldn't be driving the car any appreciable distance. Maybe limp it to a mechanic, but I would not be driving it any more than that. If you try to keep driving it for a few weeks, it will become a much more expensive problem.

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Old 12-12-2012, 06:09 PM   #9
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Thanks. It was getting to the point of very dangerous. Could not get out of gear and clutch was worthless. Shop filled and bled clutch fluid. Should not have Driven to work today. Same symptoms at shop after fill.

So he said clutch is bad, replace. He said I may have set a record for 300,000 miles on original clutch.

What's wild is how quickly it escalated.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #10
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Clutches can pretty much last indefinitely with the right driver. Hell, I knew an old guy with a Hyundai with over 200k that not only had an original clutch...it had original brake pads.

I think someone is trying to upsell you a clutch. Yeah, at 300k, it's not exactly a bad idea, but you may be able to get away with new master and slave cyls. I typically do them as a pair.

Of course, if the slave cyl in in the bellhousing, you might as well do a clutch. But AFAIK all the Japanese makes still use an external cyl and and lever setup.

I'm working on a 2004 TL tonight, actually (auto). I gotta say, it's quite nice and is making me eat my general 'restyled Accord' sentiments.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:55 PM   #11
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It's an interesting conundrum to think of replacing the clutch on any FWD car with 300K miles. I like those TLs and greatly respect Honda's mechanicals, but I would be hard pressed to spend FWD clutch money on any car with 300K miles. Personally I wouldn't put ~$1K into a car with so many miles on it, but to each his own. Then again I am admittedly a piker in that my longest-lived car (a 1984 Accord) was sold with 206K miles.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:10 AM   #12
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Can you verify if the clutch fork at the transmission is making adequate travel? If you do not know what an adequate travel is for that clutch fork, see if you can use a giant vice grip or anything to force it to travel and have somebody else try to change the gear while the engine is off. If changing gears become easy, then you definitely have a clutch hydraulic problem and there is no need to replace the clutch. And some of the clutches are very difficult to properly bleed especially if the leak has not been fixed.

By the way, anybody who is telling you that clutch is being burnt because it is not releasing completely does not know what he is talking about. Clutches get burnt when they slip. When clutches don't release completely, you are putting severe stress on the transmission gears and synchros but the clutch itself is not being abused.

Bottom line:- your symptoms are not off a worn out clutch. I already know how I feel about generic mechanic. Some of them either skip school or were taking a nap when logic course is taught there :-)

Seriously, get a second opinion or better find another warm body and do some diagnostic yourself.

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Old 12-13-2012, 10:51 AM   #13
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If the clutch was partly disengaging it would most definitely be slipping during every shift and whenever the clutch was depressed.
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:05 PM   #14
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Sure, anytime clutch is not fully engaged (pedal up) or fully dis-engaged (pedal down), it is slipping. But the clutch is actually *designed* to slip during the shift. A good driver knows how to minimize that. You don't destroy the clutch in a short order just by partly disengaging it during the shift but you will destroy it rather quickly if it is slipping while in the gear.

If the OP was having trouble with the shifting during last few days, he could not have burnt out the clutch. Fix the clutch hydraulics which means finding the leak and replacing the offending part and then bleed it right. He needs a better mechanic.

Having just gone through a transmission not going in 1st or 2nd fiasco, I am still too pissed with incompetent (and/or careless) mechanics.

What I don't get it is how come OP did not notice funny clutch pedal when he lost all the fluid from it? I had a leak at the slave cylinder and it got air in it, my clutch suddenly had a very funny feeling.

Last edited by sontakke; 12-13-2012 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sontakke View Post
By the way, anybody who is telling you that clutch is being burnt because it is not releasing completely does not know what he is talking about. Clutches get burnt when they slip. When clutches don't release completely, you are putting severe stress on the transmission gears and synchros but the clutch itself is not being abused.
This is flat wrong.

When you shift and everything is working properly, you disengage the clutch completely. It only slips very briefly when you first push the clutch pedal down and then again when you release it. In between those two points, when the shifting itself is occurring, the clutch will not slip at all.

When the clutch is dragging, it slips the entire time. It's this continuous slippage that places the stress on the synchros because they then have to work against the partially-engaged clutch as you shift.

When you have a dragging clutch that does not completely release when the pedal is pushed down, you greatly increase the amount of wear that the clutch experiences with every shift. Much more if you leave the car in gear with the clutch pedal pushed down when you're at stoplights (as you're supposed to do).

Slipping the clutch in gear is worse, yes, but you absolutely do significantly increase clutch wear with a dragging clutch too. Anyone who would claim otherwise either doesn't understand how a clutch works or doesn't know what a dragging clutch is.

Now, as for the OP's issue, he has a clutch that has 300,000 miles on it. It's going to need a replacement anyway. Generally at that kind of mileage you start to see things like center springs wearing out or rivets coming loose and binding somewhere even if the driver is ridiculously careful and the friction material on the clutch is still OK. I would be very surprised if, at 300,000 miles, the original clutch didn't warrant replacement.

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Old 12-13-2012, 02:21 PM   #16
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Well I did talk to the mechanic and asked if it could be just a hydrolic/cylinder problem but he said they filled, bled and checked pressure...no leak.

They've got the tranny dropped and he said for sure clutch was completely worn. I'll try to post pics if I can get them. Good news is the flywheel looked good (I asked).

As to why didn't I notice big difference? At the end was when I started to have trouble the pedal had little to no resistance in it, which of course you would have if the reservoir was empty.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:37 PM   #17
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This sound like exactly what happened to My 88 Mazda MX6. $20 slave cylinder and 20 minutes of bleeding fixed it for the next 4 years when I sold it. I don't know on the Acura, but mine is external to the transmission, and pulling back the rubber boot a little bit met me with brake fluid (it should be dry.) If yours is "internal" and hangs on the input shaft ala Saab style then you might have a damaged clutch because of fluid leaks contaminating it and thus requiring replacement. While you are in there you should just replace the slave / throwout bearing / crank seal (maybe depends on the car) / trans input seal (easy on my mx-6 at least) / clutch / pressure plate. Grind or replace the fly wheel.

--edit--

I see you last post you have it apart.

My personal opinion is once you are in there to change the clutch, just replace the flywheel or at least have it properly ground. It is the same concept as rotors on a car and a pattern from the old clutch will be worn into it. Replace the pressure plate, don't waste cash trying to save it. If it is easy, have them change the crank seal and trans input shaft seal. Nothing sucks more than 10k down the road that engine oil or trans oil starts dripping and wrecks the clutch and requires a complete redo of all the work you are doing now.

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Old 12-13-2012, 03:42 PM   #18
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The shop is doing the work, will also do motor/tranny seals, throw out bearing, etc while it's open.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Well I did talk to the mechanic and asked if it could be just a hydrolic/cylinder problem but he said they filled, bled and checked pressure...no leak.

They've got the tranny dropped and he said for sure clutch was completely worn. I'll try to post pics if I can get them. Good news is the flywheel looked good (I asked).

As to why didn't I notice big difference? At the end was when I started to have trouble the pedal had little to no resistance in it, which of course you would have if the reservoir was empty.
If you had lost all the fluid in the reservoir, you definitely had a leak. If you just refilled it, you might not still get the pedal back unless it was successfully bled. If you did not get the pedal back, then it means that the bleeding did not succeed because the leak was not fixed.

The point is moot as the transmission is already dropped and you are getting new clutch installed. Do insist on finding the source of the leak though and get that fixed.

As far as I know, a properly working clutch hydraulic does not have its level dropped. It is little bit different than your braking system in which the level does drop as the friction material is worn. Somebody more knowledgeable will correct me if I am wrong.

A rebuttal to ZV:- Are you claiming that few gear changes (let's say less than a week's worth) on a dragging clutch will destroy the clutch? We both agree that the slippage is while changing the gear. Assuming OP is able to change the gear even when it is balky in a second or two (which is eternity as far as gear change time is concerned), is that enough to destroy the clutch that quickly (with his feet off the gas pedal during the slip)?
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
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The shop is doing the work, will also do motor/tranny seals, throw out bearing, etc while it's open.
Insists that shop resurface the flywheel and if it needs shimmying, ask them to do it. Mine now has vibration when the clutch is at the friction point and we already ruled out the mounts. My guy skipped the resurfacing because he believed my flywheel was is in good shape. Since he had to do the whole thing twice (the 1st transmission he got from his supplier was a bad one), he is not touching the internals again to find those vibrations/shudder.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sontakke View Post
A rebuttal to ZV:- Are you claiming that few gear changes (let's say less than a week's worth) on a dragging clutch will destroy the clutch? We both agree that the slippage is while changing the gear. Assuming OP is able to change the gear even when it is balky in a second or two (which is eternity as far as gear change time is concerned), is that enough to destroy the clutch that quickly (with his feet off the gas pedal during the slip)?
Please show me where I said that he would "destroy" his clutch.

What I said was that having a dragging clutch will accelerate wear because of the greatly increased amount of slippage during shifting and when sitting still at a stop (assuming that you're following the recommended habit of leaving the car in gear with the clutch pedal pushed down).

Then you came in saying that, "the clutch itself is not being abused." Which is patently ridiculous to anyone with even a basic understanding of what happens when a clutch drags. You claimed that no damage was being done to the clutch beyond the normal wear that occurs during a shift. That was, and is, wrong.

You've now realized that your categorical statement was wrong and are trying to retroactively re-frame your position. I'm not biting. The strawman you've built up is not the argument I made, no matter how much you might wish it were.

Furthermore, you still are not addressing the fact that the OP has 300,000 miles on the clutch. You take a car into a shop with 300,000 miles on the clutch and yes, they're going to tell you that it's time to replace the clutch. The shop isn't trying to snow him.

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Old 12-13-2012, 04:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
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Insists that shop resurface the flywheel and if it needs shimmying, ask them to do it. Mine now has vibration when the clutch is at the friction point and we already ruled out the mounts. My guy skipped the resurfacing because he believed my flywheel was is in good shape. Since he had to do the whole thing twice (the 1st transmission he got from his supplier was a bad one), he is not touching the internals again to find those vibrations/shudder.
This is the exact reason I just bought a new one. For my car it was surprisingly cheap ($350ish) compared to the "chance" the old one would clean up.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:41 PM   #23
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OK, you win - a dragging clutch will cause more wear on it during the shift and my categorical statement was wrong. Funny part is you never mentioned *anything* about causing damage to the clutch in your first response. You have taken offense at my categorical statement of "no damage" which I do understand. But at least in your mind, the damage would have been very minor as you did not mention that at all in your reply. Once I had made my comment, you came back full swing to prove me wrong by stating how it is damaging the clutch!

Explain why OP lost his clutch fluid and shop refilled it and when it did not work, announced that now he needs a new clutch to fix his dragging clutch problems. That is where I have a problem with the mechanic class as a whole.

A fix for dragging clutch is NOT a new clutch; do you agree or not? That is precisely what the shop suggested.

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Old 12-13-2012, 06:10 PM   #24
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Quote:
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A fix for dragging clutch is NOT a new clutch; do you agree or not? That is precisely what the shop suggested.
I have seen the center springs wear and break, with the broken pieces binding the clutch disc on its shaft and preventing full release. I have seen rivets come loose and cause a clutch to drag. I have seen the friction material itself come loose from the clutch disc and cause dragging. There are many, many ways that a worn out clutch (from age, not from a loss of friction material depth) can cause dragging. So, yes, there are plenty of cases where a dragging clutch can be fixed by a new clutch disc.

Pressing down on the clutch pedal does NOT pull the clutch disc away from the flywheel. All pushing down on the pedal does is pull the pressure plate back, which makes room for the clutch disc to back away from the flywheel on its own. If the clutch disc binds on the transmission input shaft, then it can drag even if the pressure plate is pulled back and there are lots of reasons why an old clutch might bind on the input shaft.

Now, none of this would cause the hydraulic system to lose fluid, but all are reasonably likely concurrent issues that you're ignoring.

Also, again, you are ignoring the big factor: 300,000 miles on the clutch.

We have basically zero information about what the mechanic actually said to the OP and you're ready to claim they're trying to rip him off simply because they recommended replacing a clutch disc with 300,000 miles on it. Frankly, I'd say a mechanic was incompetent if they didn't recommend replacing a clutch disc with that many miles on it.

Finally, I've not "taken offence" at your categorical statement. Though I did find your claim that anyone who said the clutch would experience additional wear from dragging, "does not know what he is talking about" to be humorously ironic.

What bothers me is that with virtually no evidence at all you're ready to condemn a professional simply because you once got what you believe to be poor service from an entirely different mechanic. You're throwing FUD at the OP when the simple fact is that with the mileage he has on his car, replacing the clutch is the right thing to do, along with replacing the master and slave cylinders for the clutch operation.

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Old 12-13-2012, 06:59 PM   #25
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Thanks for the explanation. I too am concerned with the loss of fluid as it seems no explanation for that other than a leak. But apparently that's been tested.

For sure if a hydro problem crops up I'd ask them to fix for parts only. I will absolutely monitor the level for a few weeks and pay attention to feel.

The way she acted was like the clutch was bound to the input. The very high mileage could cause all sorts to stuff. For the price I understand I'm getting an entirely new assembly.

It is a wearable item after all.
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