Stiff clutch pedal: how to fix it?

For comfortable gear shifting in a manual transmission, it is necessary for the transmission to be easily disengaged from the engine. This function is performed by the clutch. One of the common faults on cars with a manual transmission is a tight clutch pedal, where the driver has to exert a noticeable amount of effort when pressing. Not only does this problem make the driver nervous, but it may also cause problems with the knee joint.

At the same time, there may be several reasons why the clutch is tight: the fastening of the pedal itself, clutch actuator malfunction, clutch mechanism malfunction, etc. Below we’ll look at the signs that indicate that a tight clutch pedal is a symptom of a malfunction, as well as the causes of a tight clutch.

Types of clutch actuators

The clutch is a fairly complex mechanism consisting of many elements: the drive and idler discs, release bearing, release clutch, fork, drive, as well as a basket. Frequent failures of this unit occur due to a large number of parts that it consists of. In addition, its service life is also affected by the type of mechanism:

In this case, the pedal and fork are connected by means of a cable, it begins to work after the driver presses it with his foot. The fork then presses on a bearing that unlocks the discs.

Fluid regulates the pressure force of the bearing. In this case, the pedal is connected to a hydraulic circuit, which generates pressure after it is pressed. The pressure affects the hydraulics of the release bearing, which unlocks the discs.

The cable-type mechanism is simple, but it fails quite often. The cable can tear or the bracket can fail.

Signs of clutch malfunction

If you are an experienced driver, it will not be difficult for you to understand that the clutch pedal has become tight. What other signs indicate that repairs are needed:

The pedal is not just tight, but if you push it down, there is a grinding noise, indicating a serious breakdown.
A tight pedal is pressed jerkily and there is no smooth running.
The driver is forced to constantly adjust the pedal’s free travel.
The clutch works jerkily if you loosen the pressure.
Slips appear, in this case, the driver will feel a smell of burned-out friction clutches, the car will consume more fuel.

Why the clutch pedal became tight

Since the cable mechanism most often fails, let’s understand the reasons for a tight clutch pedal stroke in this case:

  • Because the diaphragm spring is worn or deformed, its petals become too stiff;
  • the release bearing is jammed and you have to apply more and more force to turn the fork, as a result the tension on the cable increases;
  • the cable wires are torn, because they are caught in the metal braid, the pedal becomes stiff.
  • In most cases, it is the first reason that the clutch pedal is tight. This is due to the specific arrangement of the petals of the basket. The central part with the expander bearing becomes elevated above the spring plane, it is necessary to apply more effort, pressing a pedal to level such elevation.

To maximize the strength of the diaphragm spring, the car manufacturer makes the paddles stiffer. And often such artificial increase of stiffness can be observed on the fake parts of Chinese manufacture. However, even after you install such a part, the pedal will remain as tight.
If the car has traveled more than 150 000 km, the expander bearing breaks down. It loosens on the paddles, distortions occur. The maximum load is experienced by the release fork, as a result, its deformation and jamming in extreme positions occur.

The mechanism of the hydraulic type also often fails, and the pedal becomes tight. Why this can happen:

  • Fluid is leaking from the circuit;
  • air enters the system;
  • the guide element in the release bearing is defective;
  • the hydraulic piston is broken;
  • the crankcase is defective, and usually the spring is defective;
  • the cuff in the operating cylinder is damaged, as a result the pedal becomes stiff.

How to eliminate the problem of a tight clutch pedal

However, experts recommend replacing the entire mechanism. Of course, you will spend more money on this work, but then the mechanism will function properly.

If your budget is limited, and the clutch pedal is tight, you will have to do the repair with your own hands:

  • The bearing of the clutch disengagement must be lubricated or replaced;
  • pour new working fluid into hydraulic actuator, pump it;
  • install new pads of the slave disc or springs in the case when these parts have become worthless, deformed or weakened;
  • replace the basket and all elements with new ones, recommended by the manufacturer.

What to do if the clutch pedal is tight and squeaks? To soften it, you need to apply grease to the guide of the release bearing, as well as on the clutch fork support. However, this action will eliminate the problem only if there are no complex breakages of the mechanism, and the parts are in good condition. To lubricate the mechanism, if the pedal is tight, it is not necessary to disassemble the gearbox. It will be enough to remove the cable from the fork, and then remove the protective rubber band. The fork should be fixed so that it does not slip out of the bearing bracket.

Then, with a flashlight, inspect the mechanism. You may find that there is not enough lubricant. In this case, carefully clean the dirt with a wire and apply grease.

Then you should jiggle the fork left and right so that the lubricant is distributed evenly. Pay attention to the support that is behind the fork. It should also have a lot of grease on it, otherwise, the pedal will remain tight. It will be not absolutely comfortable to carry out these manipulations because of a small space under a cowl. However, if you show patience, even a beginner can cope with the task. The main thing is to perform all actions carefully and not in a hurry.

The main mistakes when repairing the clutch

It is not necessary to pour brake fluid or WD-40 into the cable jacket. The pedal will remain tight, but the protective sheath will be destroyed.
You should not change the crankcase and leave the fork as it is. This will cause the resistance to become high and the fork to fail. The tight lever will not function.
Inexpensive equivalent parts should not be installed. Even if your budget is limited, it is not recommended to use cheap parts from China.
If the clutch pedal is tight, the reasons can be quite different. The system is malfunctioning because the clutch basket, forks, cables, or collars have failed. If the pedal is tight, while you have a “hydraulic”, it is recommended to replace all units.

This work should be performed at a service station, only an experienced technician will be able to diagnose the car and fix the breakdown. Making repairs on their own, when the pedal is tight, an inexperienced car owner can make a mistake. As a result, the mechanism will completely fail. In this case, the cost of restoring the node will be much higher.

How to change the clutch cable yourself

If you have a car with an automatic transmission, a cable drive (cable) is installed on the car from the factory. The main advantage of this mechanism is the simplicity of its device. The function it performs is to transfer the force from the pedal to the clutch disc.

It is not uncommon for the cable to break. This causes the pedal to fail.

What should you do if the cable breaks?

Have you noticed that the pedal has just failed? Most likely the cable is broken. What should you do in this situation? The first thing you should do is to calm down, park the car. Turn on the emergency lights in advance. Next, you should open the hood and explore the underhood space.

Have you noticed that there was a breakage of the cable? Proceed to the next step.

Get back in the car, move the shift lever to first gear. Many motorists mistakenly believe that you can not do this. However, in fact, you will be able to perform this manipulation, despite the fact that the engine is not started and the pedal does not function.

After that, look in the rearview mirror, to make sure that you do not interfere with anyone. Then start the engine. The car will make 2-3 jerk forward, do not be afraid of this. Just press the gas pedal and the car will start moving.

It is clear that now you can go only in 1st gear. However, if you have experience driving a car, then get without clutch switch speeds. The main thing is to do it at the right time. How to choose the right moment for shifting? You gain speed, release the accelerator pedal and shift the lever to 2nd gear. Do you want to stop? Then the lever should be set in position “N”.

What should you do when the car has stopped? Adhere to the following recommendations.

First, you cannot stop if you are going uphill. Otherwise, you won’t be able to drive again after stopping. In addition, the battery will quickly run down.

The ideal option is to slow down on the downhill slope or on flat tarmac. In general, it is recommended to call a tow truck, so you can easily get to the car service, without ruining the gearbox.

What will be needed in order to replace the cable?
To perform this work you will have to get a new cable, which is suitable for your car, a jack (trestle), a set of wrenches, pliers, a few screwdrivers, grease (you can use graphite grease) to apply it to the parts at the end of replacement.

Important: The cable can be made your own hands. However, you will spend a lot of time on this work, you will also have to buy special equipment, a locksmith’s vise, an angle grinder.

Specialists advise making a cable on their own only in a hopeless situation because no one will give a guarantee that the handicraft cable will last a long time.
We install the rope by ourselves.
First, you should make sure that the reason why the clutch pedal has become tight is in the cable. It may be that there is no need to change this part, just adjust the cable.

Depending on the make and model of the car, the repair procedure may differ. The reason lies in the design features of the car. Nevertheless, the principle of adjustment is always the same for any car.

First of all, it is necessary to understand why the breakdown occurred. The reason may be that the cable broke. In this situation, only a replacement will help. If it simply shifted, then you will have to adjust it to fix the malfunction.

Important! When the car is equipped with a self-adjusting ratchet-type cable, it means that if the pads of the idler disc are worn, the cable length will adjust automatically. In this case, the car owner doesn’t have to do anything.

However, the manufacturer recommends checking the pedal stroke at service. If such a car has a tight clutch pedal or, on the contrary, it is too easy to push, you should adjust the mechanism: loosen the locknut, then using the second part loosen or tighten the cable. Increase cable tension by turning the nut towards the car hood.

In case the manipulations didn’t help, and the pedal is still tight or soft, turn the nut in the right direction one more time. It is necessary to do it so many times that the tension became optimum. The main thing is not to overtighten the mechanism, otherwise, the cable will break.

Have you diagnosed the car and determined that the cable is torn? Then you will have to replace it. In advance, you need to make measurements of the tip, as well as its loose part, which is near the gearbox.

After that, find the area where the cable connects, disconnect it and pull it out through the engine compartment. If the flooring of the car does not allow you to perform this operation, you will have to dismantle it.

At the end of the dismantling, work should disconnect the cable from the pedal, then from the bracket, which is located in the gearbox, you need to pull out the tip.

The cable should be mounted in reverse order. The new part is connected to the pedal, then pull it to the gearbox, then attach to the connection point. In the end, you can assemble the floor covering, which was removed beforehand.

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