400 miles from home & Getting into first suddenly super touchy

While driving in torturously slow traffic yesterday I noticed a sudden change in the way my car engages into first gear. From a stop, normally I can let the clutch out at a medium speed, apply just a little gas & away we go. Suddenly I had to be much slower with the clutch & give it more gas (revving the engine) to avoid jerking/shaking/almost stalling to get going. If I’m really slow with the clutch & give more gas than usual it will go smoothly.
This started during about an hour in traffic where I went about 1-2 miles, all stop & go in first gear.
Car is a 2009 scion, about 100k miles, and I’m about 400 miles from home.
What’s going on? How serious is this? Will I be able to get home tomorrow?

How about other gears? Can you start smoothly in second gear?

Could it be the engine has lost most of it’s torque (power) which could cause the problem, ie, unrelated to the clutch?

Hmm…I don’t know. Usually if I try to start in another gear, it’s accidental & I stall. I’ll try starting in second. From a stop? I think I’d still need to be super slow letting the clutch out & give it a bit more gas than I usually would when starting with first, right?

You’ve never tried starting in second?

I once had the transmission linkage go out in a car and left it in third, as I could get around town in that one gear, till I could get it fixed.

Clutches can fail in three ways. They can start to slip, they can fail to disengage the engine from the transmission, or the anti shudder springs in the clutch plate can fail. I think the latter is your issue. This probably began several thousand miles ago, but came to a head when you were in that slow traffic yesterday due to the excessive heat generated with constant stops and starts.

As long as it IS a clutch problem, and NOT an engine problem, you can probably drive it for a while. It may became progressively more difficult to take off. It probably won’t start slipping. Once you are on the highway at speed, there is no wear on the clutch.

See the springs?


Along with clutch disc spring failure there is the possibility of a pressure plate spring losing tension or breaking and the delamination of a section of the clutch disc facing. . But of course, carefully check the engine and transmission mounts before going into any tear down.

Is the Scion throttle by wire? I hate mine!

Update- next morning, everything started completely fine. In a flat parking lot,I could get going in first with just letting out the clutch (no gas) & the whole drive home it drove normally. Some std traffic, but nothing like the long 1 mile per hour crawl of the day before. So, seems like MG’s #3 is quite likely. Now that I’m back home I’ll get it checked out in person.
Thanks for your responses. Very informative & reassuring

During that one mile in stop and go traffic, your leg may have gotten fatigued and you allowed the clutch to be partially engaged…heating up the springs on the pressure plate.
Now that everything is cooled off the springs have stiffened up again.
This doesn’t mean that damage was not done as the springs may have lost some of their hardness.
If you have problems in the future, it would be wise to have it looked at. If it is under warranty, I’d have it looked at before the warranty period is up.


Some std traffic,

Forget the clutch get to a doctor! :smiley: Sorry I had to.