1998 Honda Civic LX 200k, 3rd Clutch Master Cylinder, 2nd Slave Cylinder in two weeks

I have owned the car from day 1 and have had wonderful success over the years (just turned 200,000 last month). Eleven plus days ago the car would not go into gear unless double or triple clutched and eventually not at all. Towed to shop and clutch master cylinder was replaced (new, not rebuild). Two days later stranded with daughter and kindness of friend got us home. Shop towed car in and said it was a faulty new part and they replaced. Two days later same issue (not able to get into gear). Towed in and both clutch master cylinder and slave are replaced. Car lasted almost 3 days before stranding us again (I should have stock in Enterprise, they are wonderful to pick you up) and garage once again pays the tow. They say either the clutch master cylinder or the slave went bad so they changed them both out and got parts from another shop in case there is a bad lot out there. Just picked car of two hours ago and praying for it to last. Anyone have this issue and have any clue if it could be something other than bad “new” parts? Thank you.

OK…I understand your frustration. I have encountered this many X on many different vehicles. First How old it the current clutch? How many miles on this clutch? If she is old or has about 100K on it then I may have the solution. After you have verified that all the clutch operating hardware is functional… this includes the Clutch master, the slave AND AND AND the little lever that the slave operates…sometimes they crack and then bend. On top of this an old clutch very commonly suffers from fatigued clutch spring fingers… WHat happens is the springs that look like fingers and are made of flat spring steel…get old and tired and do NOT let the clutch release like they are supposed to… When the fatigue they sometimes bend and or just wear out. When this occurs when you put your foot on the clutch pedal and depress it to the floor You EXPECT the clutch to release so you can get into gear…but when the fingers fatigue they dont release because it takes much much more travel of the fingers to actually release the clutch…this excess travel is not within the ability of the slave cylinder and the little lever that operates the clutch spring fingers. Your new clutch parts may have bought you a little more travel…thus allowing the clutch to disengage as normal…but eventually…it will rear its ugly head again.

I have replaced MANY a clutch because of this condition. Same thing every time…it always begins by us replacing the clutch master…then slave…then whats left…THE CLUTCH SPRING FINGERS. I have pulled and replaced clutches that could have gone another 80K miles…but since the springs were fatugued…it had to be replaced… Happened on my Ford Explorer actually…quite common…but not many people seem to remember this litte factoid. Sorry to say the solution may simply be that you need to replace the entire clutch. This ALSO happens because of inferior replacement clutch kits…they arent made with the same quality materials as a stock clutch and because of this…you have to prematurely replace the entire shebang…just because the spring fingers wont allow you to continue using the clutch…your clutch friction plates may not be worn out yet…but the spring fatugue makes you have to re-replace the clutch. Hope this helps.

Thank you very much for those details! The clutch is original (I find it hard to believe myself) so all 200k are on it and the mechanic said it was still good to go. Car is on day two since back and still operating. I am printing off your notes and sticking in the glove box in case we have another episode and I can show him the info. Thank you very much!

Possibly the brake fluid was contaminated.

I’d be pretty suspect of a shop that replaces several parts numerous times and blames it on a bad parts chain; especially with new instead of reman parts.

Another possibility besides the ones mentioned is that the throwout bearing could be hanging on the transmission nose that it rides on. Of course, any problem with the throwout bearing, clutch disc, or pressure plate means a new clutch kit and a new pilot bearing (usually not included) should be part of any clutch installation.

As usual…OK4450 makes another great point… It all boils down to a new clutch methinks…they don’t last much past 200K…not that I have ever seen and my Dad was one hell of a manual trans operator. He drove big rigs for over 40 years so he was Da Man with a stick. I have gotten 150-175K from a clutch but had to replace due to…you guessed it…spring fatigue in the pressure plate assy… they just cant handle all those compressions and releases…can you imagine how many x the clutch pedal is depressed and released in that many miles? A LOT…

AND if you aren’t a pro at a manual trans…I bet you have your foot on the clutch at a red light…A lot of people sit at red lights with the clutch to the floor and trans in first gear waiting for the green light…BIG BIG BIG NO NO…and totally unnecessary. Your pressure plate and throwout bearing will send you HATE MAIL if you do this…just pop it in neutral and wait…then shift into first and go…when its time…no need for the “Pre-depressing of the clutch pedal” This BAD BAD BAD Habit contributes to most of the pressure plate spring fatigue I see so often.

This concludes my stick shift operators class for the day…sorry guys.

Wait until you feel how nice a new clutch feels…I am betting that your clutch pedal feels like a …hmmm…what?.. floppy something or other…LOL. When you have a new clutch you can feel nice steady pressure all the way down with the pedal and a nice smooth transition to lockup when the pressure plate, clutch and flywheel are new…the biggest contributor to that nice pedal feel is the Spring fingers within the pressure plate assy…trust me.