1990 Toyota Corolla clutch issue

So I am the proud second owner of a twenty year old Toyota Corolla my girlfriend and I lovingly refer to as “Old Blue”. I discovered I was having to push the clutch most of the way to the floor and assumed I needed to replace the clutch plate, so a friend of the family said he could do that, and he did. It is still having the same issue, so I took it to the shop my family has trusted for years and I informed them, I just replaced the clutch and yet I have to push the clutch so far down, what else could it be? They took the opportunity to replace my brake slave and master cylinder - it still has the same problem.

My question is, I have just learned of the existence of “clutch cables” - is it possible to adjust the length of those to make the clutch engage more easily?

Clutch cylinder. By your master brake. I had a longer post it they flagged it because I included a link to the part at Autozone. I’m sure they will let the post through. Anyway, clutch master cylinder. You don’t have a cable on that thing.

What they replaced was, I suspect, your clutch master and slave cylinders rather than your brake master and slave cylinders. The “slave” cylinders for the brakes are called the calipers, except in the case of drum brakes where they’re called “brake cylinders”.

When your friend changed the clutch, did he put in an entire “kit” consisting of the clutchplate, the pressure plate assembly, and the throwout bearing? Ask him if you’re unsure, as this information could be helpful. And regardless of the answer, the clutch is adjustable. With a hydraulic unit, the adjustment(s) are at the linkage that pushes the piston in the master cylinder and/or at the clutch fork end where the slave cylinder activates the fork that moves the throwout bearing. Did you friend check the adjustements?

Post back.

That car doesn’t have a clutch cable–it has a clutch cylinder that uses fluid, much like a master brake cylinder. It looks like a small master cylinder and you’ll find it on the same side of the engine, just below the master cylinder. I had the same model Toyota years back and I had to replace the clutch cylinder 2 times in 175,000 miles, so I’d say it’s a common problem. DON’T FORGET to bleed the system once you replace it. There is a bleeder valve down by the clutch bearing actuator. You can find it by simply following the metal clutch line that comes out of the cylinder.


mountainbike & fatrap - thanks for the quick replies!

It does not have a clutch cable - good to know, thanks!

Yes, I meant to say “Clutch master and slave cylinder”, I got in a hurry and wrote the wrong thing. I do not know what my friend replaced - clutch kit or just the clutch plate… I suspect it was just the clutch plate.

When I arrived to pick it up from the shop I pointed out the clutch was as bad (or worse) than when I left it with them. They indicated that it was probably due to air bubbles in the brake hydraulic unit. One of the guys reached in under the hood while another pressed in the clutch pedal while we were sitting out front of the shop.

I am thinking I will call up the shop I took it to and tell them I am still having the same issue I brought it to them to fix in the first place and ask if they can adjust the hydraulic unit. (perhaps they won’t charge me for that because they charged me for parts and installation of something that did not solve the problem?)

“They indicated that it was probably due to air bubbles in the brake hydraulic unit.” — Bleeding it should be standard. They messed up and should fix. Bleeding time is included in the hours manual.

The pressure plate was probably changed along with the clutch disc. If it wasn’t, the job may have to be done again. The throwout bearing was probably changed too. If it wasn’t, there is still reasonable doubt about the job done. Lot of ifs here that we don’t really know without assuming things.

thanks for the insights pleasedodgevan2. I’ll ask my friend about that to find out - he told me he used to have his own auto repair business, I assumed he knew what he was doing. Against my better judgement I used a “shade tree mechanic” and consequently, when he wanted me to pay him to do additional things (and his price kept raising from conversation to conversation) so I went with the shop that has historically done an excellent job for my family. I probably should assume he strictly changed the clutch plate before assuming they did not do their due dilligence, but because it will cost me more to check up on his work than it will to ask them to take another look at the bleeding.

Additionally, I have been watching Toyota clutch repair stuff on Youtube and finding things that puzzle me. Does the 1990 Toyota Corolla have an adjustable master rod? looks almost like I could adjust that myself in the video.

Update: I have gotten the car back from the mechanic (yet again) with the same problem it had when I thought I needed the clutch replaced to begin with - have to press the pedal 7/8 of the way down to change gears (to the point I had to remove the floor mat to be able to press it down far enough!)

I have paid mechanics to replace the clutch plate (complete kit, not just plate) and the hydrolic master and slave clutch cylinders. The last time I took it back to the shop they did a more complete job of removing the bubbles from the clutch lines, but it still has the same issue. I am not interested in pouring more money into it, and now considering selling it while it is still possible to shift.

If anyone knows of any reason why it might still have issues (assuming the other repairs were done correctly) please drop me a line here (if I still own it, I’ll look into the possibility - if not, I will pass it along to whoever the new owner may be.)