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1989 Honda Civic clutch problem?


We have a 1989 Honda civic wagon with 225,000 miles, manual transmission. Recently, it has become increasingly difficult to shift into gears. This started with 1st and 2nd, but now all gears are hard to get into. When pushing the shifter into gear, we have to push much harder than we used to, and it feels like we’re pushing things out of the way. Its somewhat easier to shift into gears when the car is moving, and it’s always easy to shift from a gear into neutral. It’s sometimes easier to get the car into gear by pushing on the clutch petal really hard. We also often get grinding when we shift into reverse, even though the clutch petal is all the way down. We also need to push quite hard on the clutch petal to get the car to start. I initially thought that the transmission was going, but now that it’s hard to shift into all gears (instead of just 2nd gear), I think this is more clutch related. Do I need to adjust the clutch cable? Should I adjust the clutch pedal? Do I need a transmission rebuild?


Mike Connelley

I believe your Civic uses a clutch cable instead of a hydraulic clutch. If so, there’s a clutch cable adjustment at the transmission. You might try adjusting the cable to see if that helps with the shifting. If not, then look under the dash where the clutch cable passes thru the cable bracket and operate the clutch pedal by hand. If you see this bracket move while operating the clutch pedal, the bracket is cracked and isn’t allowing the clutch cable to fully disengage the clutch when the clutch pedal is depressed. This happened on two Civic’s that I owned. The fix for the cracked bracket is to get under the dash and weld the bracket back together.


You’re right. It’s a cable clutch. The cable will be on the left side as you’re standing in front of the car. There will be a black plastic knob right where it goes into the transmission. You turn that to adjust the clutch.