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Clutch Not Fully Disengaging


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I've never touched the clutch system in the 4 1/2 years I've had the Spitfire (no fluid changes as it's silicone), but it's finally started to give me problems.

It's been juddering when taking up drive now and again, usually when setting off when cold, but didn't always do it and the problem went away for a bit. Now that I've been using the car every day for work again, the problems have got a bit worse. The biting point is lower, and I've just noticed that it doesn't actually seem to be fully disengaging.

If you put the car in reverse, drive it backwards a bit, depress the clutch, put it in neutral, bring the clutch up, press the clutch down again, and start to move the gear lever into first, it jumps a bit just before the gear slots in. Which suggests to me that it's already engaging with first gear before I've brought the clutch back up again.

The idle is a bit juddery as well, and the car is vibrating more than usual when left idling. I've checked the pedal for lost movement looking from under the dash and unfortunately it's not that - as soon as the pedal is pressed it starts to activate the master cylinder.

Firstly, does anyone know what the cause of this is likely to be, and secondly, is it doing any damage? Would bleeding the clutch potentially solve it?

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Mine judders a bit but everything else checked so i know its my clutch and just live with it as no other issue, but could be as yorkshire_spam says.

if its not disengaging properly then could be air in the system or old fluid, they are easy enough to bleed so that would be my first port of call, as for the vibration, is it the engine running rough or could it be engine/gearbox mountings?


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have you checked the withdrawl lever pivot pin has not partly fallen out of the clutch hsg.  

the pin is renowned for dropping out,  this losses travel and if its now misaligned you dont press the diaphram centrally and this gives judder

if you look down the rh side of the clutch hsg you can see the hole the pin fits ,  the pin is held in place with a crinkle /sprung retainer, these disintergate and the pin departs out the bottom,   many rebuild wit a headed bolt so you never loose it again

just a thought  Pete

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Definitely not worn UJ', they're both relatively new and working well.

932 wrote:
as for the vibration, is it the engine running rough or could it be engine/gearbox mountings? rich

It's smooth as silk at any point other than idle, at which point it doesn't sound rough, but the gearstick and bodywork seem to shake a lot more than normal. Could be chasing 2 issues in that respect though (eg. worn mounts as you say as well).

Will try bleeding it first then check those suggestions Pete and Chris. I'm sure I checked endfloat recently but will check again.

Am I right in thinking I can bleed air out of it by taking the clutch pedal spring off, then wedging something on the pedal keeping it depressed, and leaving it like that with the master cylinder cap off overnight? Thus causing air to rise to the top of the system?

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I have never had a problem bleeding the clutch by the normal procedure. The master cyclinder moves alot of fluid so all air gets pushed out quick time. The only reason to hold the master deperssed is for systems that move little fluid as the air stays. Could be multiple problems.


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It is easy to separate clutch problems from engine idle problems by putting the gearbox into neutral and watching the idle. In that case the clutch is only along for the ride so to speak. It won't change the running characteristics of the engine.
                                                                                      Best of luck,

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  • 2 weeks later...

Had the gearbox tunnel out, looks like the pivot pin is in place. Bled some of the clutch fluid, although it's silicone it was a bit mucky! Not bad though considering it's probably not been bled or drained since 2003.

I think the best thing to do is to take the bellhousing and gearbox out, and get to work replacing the release bearing. Then refill with fresh fluid and see where I am with it.

Even if that's not the problem it should give me some experience working on the clutch. Going to be a pain in the arse lifting it all out, but until someone offers me an alloy bellhousing for sale I guess I'm stuck with this heavy cast iron lump...  :-/

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