2010 Nissan Versa Strange Symptoms, Soft Clutch

Hey, I’m a newbie here. I absolutely love CarTalk and figured I could give this form a try :slight_smile:

I’m having a very interesting situation with my 2010 Nissan Versa Hatchback S,118,000 miles. I’ve owned the car for over two years and its been a trooper. As of lately though, the clutch started acting up. It would get spongy and wouldn’t allow me to engage a gear change till the peddle is at the firewall or on a few occasions, I couldn’t engage at all. But I would only have these spongy clutch problems after I’ve been going 70mph on the interstate for more than 30 mins. And when I do get the spongy clutch, if I pull over and pump my clutch the pressure comes back and I can shift like normal again. But another bizarre thing is there are no leaks in the fluid. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been checking the fluid and its spot on max every time. And If I spend a week driving around town, my clutch is normal. I’ve been surfing the net and can’t find anyone else who has had the same symptoms. I’ve talked to a bunch of my car mech friends and my dad. Everyone seems baffled and just suggested to by a new clutch kit and replace it.

I decided to start with buying the less expensive stuff first to replace before committing to a whole clutch replacement kit.

I started with the Master Cylinder. My dad and I replaced it two weeks ago and bled the lines. And for a week my clutch was normal even after driving the interstate over an hour and a half.
But guess what?! Its back to its old ways getting spongy after long runs on the interstate.

I have no other issues with my clutch system, no slipping, nothing.

My slave cylinder is in the trans so I would just replace the clutch system anyway since it would be so much trouble to get to it. So I’m keeping the slave till last.

My dad had a new suggestion yesterday. He was wondering if debris or something might be in the clutch/break reservoir? Maybe somehow causing air intake when the engine is hot for a long period of time, and then when I pump my clutch, the air compacts or escapes?

Any other theories out there about my mysterious spongy clutch situation?

Thanks you all

The problem might be the master cylinder you replaced is defective, and is leaking internally like old master cylinder.

Carry a bottle of water in the vehicle. And the next time clutch starts acting up, pull over, open the hood and pour the bottle of water over the clutch master cylinder to cool it down.

If the clutch operation returns to normal, the master cylinder is being effected by heat and is leaking internally, just like the old master cylinder.


Okay, cool! I’ll see if I can try that. I’ll have to bring all my tools with me. My battery and air filter are in the way of accesses my Master. Gotta love compact engines :slight_smile:

Hi Elizabeth.

Did you ever solve your mystery clutch problem?
My 2010 Nissan Tiida (I’m in Australia) is having the exact same problem!! Ive had it in and out of mechanics for almost a year now. Everything youre describing is the exact same for me.
Please tell me you found the problem :crossed_fingers: and that it wasn’t the master cylinder or auto slave (I’ve had those both replaced multiple times)

Thanks! :blush:

Have you tried Tester’s diagnostic idea above, pouring cold water on the clutch MC as an experiment? I’ve never tried it, but it seems easy enough to do.

I own a Corolla and have experienced a similar symptom three times over the car’s 30 year life. On each occasion replacing the clutch MC with a new one fixed the problem completely and immediately, straight away @bianca.h . But that’s not working for you? I’m presuming there are no weird noises … hmmmm … then I’d guess you either have a slave cylinder leak, or there’s a problem with the clutch parts, likely a failed spring somewhere among the clutch parts. Doesn’t really matter which part failed, that’s mere speculation. The transmission will have to be removed, then most likely all will be known and the solution will be obvious. If your slave cylinder is leaking, you’ll be losing clutch fluid from the MC’s plastic bottle.