1997 toyota corolla 5-speed manual transmission clutch problem

In the last couple of days my clutch has remained engaged while the clutch pedal was fully depressed. My fluid level is JUST slightly low, and the linkage seems to be functioning just fine. I have never worked on a clutch, so before I get into anything major, is there anything I can do to diagnose or remedy a “hopefully” simple problem?

You are likely looking for a new master or slave cylinder.

I agree. Replace them in pairs, because they wear together. The slave cylinder is mounted on the outside of the transmission, and the master is bolted to the firewall. Should be a couple of hours with hand tools.

ok thanks. It has done this intermittenly. Maybe five times in the last three days. I was going to try to bleed the system to see if I could get a little more pedal, then replace the slave cylinder if it was still doing this. I was reading up on this a little bit and it says you need to remove the clutch fork spring. Is this the fork that the push rod of the slave cylinder seats into?

So, I bled the system and got immediate results. There was plenty of pedal and it seemed like the problem was resolved. But then after a test drive of approx. 30 minutes, the problem re-ocurred. Once in a while, again, the clutch would engage when pedal was fully depressed. But I also noticed that if I shifted into neutral and pumped the clutch a few times, I would again have a good amount of pedal and a smooth shift like it should be. Is this still the master and slave cylinders going bad? I was told if the master was going, the pedal would go all the way to the floor and it would be a constant problem. Is there a remote possibility that I only need to replace the slave cylinder? Thanks again for any input!!

Your description of the problem points toward the clutch master cylinder as the culprit. By pumping the clutch pedal you are expanding the primary cup just enough to make it work in the worn area of the cylinder. When the primary cup relaxes, the master shunts fluid during part of its stroke leading to a diminished release of the clutch pressure plate.

Usually the slave cylinder fails by leaking fluid out the boot. Driving symptoms would be a clutch that initially disengages but reengages slowly with the pedal still on the floor and a steady loss of fluid from the master cylinder reservoir.

The reason most people replace both the slave and master cylinder is that both tend to deteriorate at the same rate. So after you replace one component, a month or year later you have to replace the other. In this case you would have to rebleed the system. Also, for a professional mechanic, it leads to comebacks for the same problem.