Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1990 Toyota 4Runner Clutch Problems

I have a 1990 Toyota 4-Runner, manual 5-speed transmission. About a week ago, while shifting gears, I heard a loud “popping” noise from the general vicinity of the clutch. I did not feel anything different in the clutch, it returned to the appropriate position and didn’t feel any more or less “loose.” However, after the “pop” it seemed difficult to get the vehicle into first gear and second gear, and I really had to “push” it to get it into gear, but it would not grind or anything else. Also, when shifting into reverse, it would grind loudly and be very difficult to get into reverse gear. If I turn the vehicle off, put it in reverse and then start the car, it works fine, though it seems like it “sticks” longer in reverse and takes a bit more muscle to get it out of reverse and into first again. Additionally, when the shifter is in first gear, but the clutch is pressed, it seems as if the clutch is not disengaging entirely, because the car wants to move forward slightly when I take my foot off the brake, almost as if I’m letting my foot off the clutch a bit with it in gear. All of this has been happening pretty regularly, but the car has still been driving fine. However, today, the poor thing wouldn’t start. This vehicle (like many manual transmissions) needs to have the clutch pedal pressed in order to start the vehicle. Even when I press the clutch all the way to the floor, the car won’t start (and I know it is not a starter/battery issue). Given the other problems with the clutch and shifting gears, it almost feels as if the clutch was not getting disengaged all the way even when the pedal was pressed to the floor, and now that it won’t start, I’m wondering what is going on. Does this model have a linkage adjuster that needs fixing? Is it something wrong with the clutch fluid? Or do I need a new clutch entirely?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

i think your clutch disc lost a spring. yes i am afraid if that is the case you will need to replace the whole clutch or the trow out bearnong gave up but still needs new clutch assably.

You have a hydraulic clutch, meaning that the pedal pushes hydraulic fluid to a slave cylinder to move the release fork, which pushes the release bearing and forces the pressure plate to declamp the clutch plate.

Someone will have to look at this to see if that popping was the a hydraulic line fitting blowing, a seal in the slave cylinder blowing out, the fork breaking, or something even more sinister. If the fault is within the clutch/pressure plate assembly, or the release bearing grenading, you’ll need an entire clutch assembly. If it’s a fitting, you may need a new line. If it’s a slave cylinder, you may need a new cylinder. And so on. Can’t tell from here.

their is a plate under the dash that the Clutch peddel is attached,and that plate will brake causing that problem,

A 1990 4Runner ? That’s pretty new for a 4Runner to start giving you transmission problems.

You may have heard one or more of the diaphram fingers breaking off the clutch pressure plate. When this happens, the pressure plate can’t fully release the clutch disc from the flywheel. So part of the clutch disc is still in contact with the flywheel.


When you press the clutch to start the car, a switch gets set, which enables the starter motor to turn. It’s a safety feature, so a little kid waiting for mommy in the car can’t simply turn the key and start or move the car. It sounds to me that one problem you are having is that that switch has failed. That switch is usually located right under or next to the clutch pedal, so open the door, get on your hands and knees just outside the car, flashlight in hand, and look under there and see if you see anything usual happening when you press on the clutch pedal. There may be something broken, like the support plate the switch is attached to. Or the pedal spring that returns the clutch pedal back to the raised position may have broken or become dislodged. That spring is in the same area as the clutch start-safety switch. By your other symptoms, you may well need a new clutch, transmission removed, all that. Or you may simply need a new clutch master cylinder. But the above, that’s the place to start.