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2001 PT Cruiser's manual transmission won't shift when car is running


I have a 2001 PT Cruiser with a manual transmission. Up until today it has been running fine. This morning my wife said it seemed hard to shift. Later in the day I got in to drive and it wouldn’t shift at all when running. If it is off, I can shift into gear then turn it on and drive. anyone have any idea what is wrong?

more clearly, I can put it into gear when it’s off and then turn the car on to drive but can’t shift into another gear unless I turn it off again.

Have to checked to see if your clutch master cylinder reservoir is full of fluid? If so you probably have a clutch master cylinder that is leaking internally. If the reservoir is empty, then there is a leak in the hydraulic system at the master cylinder, slave cylinder, or the plumbing.

Good luck on this.

This usually indicates a clutch problem. Have you checked the clutch fluid? If the clutch master cylinder or slave clutch is leaking they both will have to be replaced. Find a good independent mechanic and you will be back on the road in no time.

I did check that on the advice from another forum. there is fluid in the reservoir. If the clutch is bad would it still shift fine when the car is not running?

Yes. The basic check for a bad clutch is: Shifts with engine off…will not shift with engine running.

thanks for your help… hopefully this won’t cost more than the car to fix :slight_smile:

OK, weird! I just put the car into fifth to try to stall like was recommended on another site to test the clutch, and now it works!!!

The problem you are describing is that the clutch is not releasing correctly. When you have the pedal down the pressure plate is still dragging the disc along. Usually a bad clutch master cylinder will be temperature sensitive i.e. work when cold, not when hot. Changing a clutch master cylinder is much cheaper than changing a clutch kit so make sure you rule out trouble with the former.

A stall test is for a different kind of clutch problem. You stall test it when you think that the clutch friction disk itself is worn out.

Your problem is different and lies in the mechanics of getting the clutch to engage & disengage. You need to trouble shoot the hydraulics and a stall test won’t tell you about that.

Check your shift cable bushings behind the engine, they could be bad

I am having this exact same issue right now. However, a couple years ago I had the entire clutch kit replaced. It cost me an arm and a leg. Of course, the warranty on it has run completely out, so I can’t just take it back to the previous mechanic. sigh I really don’t want this to be another clutch kit replacement, I can’t afford it!

Since it is inoperable and I cannot afford to have it towed either, how hard would it be to get to the clutch master cylinder myself? I don’t have a manual on the car, but I may have to get one…