I am purchasing a car on eBay which was stated to have the following problem: "the clutch is grabbing very very low it does not slip i think it is just the hydraulics? ". When I asked if I would need to have it serviced in order to drive it 1500 miles back home ( which in my mind meant an oil change), their response was that I would need to have the master cylinder replaced in order to drive it that far… So since I am a 32 year old female who knows nothing about cars and has no one in her life to give advice for this kind of thing, I thought of this forum. Is this going to be a can of worms situation? How much will it cost?
Thanks for reading, any advice is helpful.
Below are instructions with graphics for replacing a clutch master cylinder on a '98 Prelude:
The title of your post mentioned the slave cylinder. The master and slave are two separate cylinders; the master (attached to the clutch pedal) drives the slave (attached to the clutch fork). The slave is simple to install as well - just three bolts on the Prelude). You should have both of them replaced.
The cylinders cost ≈ $30-$45 each. They would have to be bled after they are installed. A ballpark estimate for the entire job should be around $100. (But I’m an old guy, and I may be using old labor rates; others can correct me.)
In my opinion, the clutch should “grab very low” if it’s in good shape. When it “grabs high,” or, in other words, the clutch engages while the pedal is high, it is a sign the clutch is nearly worn out.
In motorcycle safety class, we call the area where the clutch starts to engage “the friction zone.” When a clutch is new, and is in good shape, the friction zone is low to the floor. As it wears, the friction zone moves higher up, and eventually, when the clutch wears out, you will lose engagement between the transmission and the engine with your foot off the clutch.
The diagnosis of the seller of this vehicle can’t be trusted. He/She is guessing, and for all you know, the car might need a new complete clutch assembly, or more.
Whether you buy a car online or in person, you should never buy a car without first having it checked out by a mechanic whom you are paying (to avoid conflict of interest).
If you aren’t willing to drive 1,500 miles to take this car to a mechanic and have it thoroughly checked out, with the possibility you might drive home empty-handed, you shouldn’t buy this car.
<font color="Blue>Whitey, September 16 —
<font face=“Times” color="Blue>"In my opinion, the clutch should “grab very low” if it’s in good shape. When it “grabs high,” or, in other words, the clutch engages while the pedal is high, it is a sign the clutch is nearly worn out.
"In motorcycle safety class, we call the area where the clutch starts to engage “the friction zone.” When a clutch is new, and is in good shape, the friction zone is low to the floor. As it wears, the friction zone moves higher up, and eventually, when the clutch wears out, you will lose engagement between the transmission and the engine with your foot off the clutch."
I’ll have to think about that. The change in pedal behavior as the clutch wears may depend upon whether the clutch is a push type or a pull type. I don’t know how a motorcycle clutch works, or if the mechanism is similar to that of a car. If the car’s clutch is self-adjusting, I would think the “feel” of the clutch remains the same as the clutch wears.
I only mentioned motorcycles to explain the “friction zone.” Everything else I wrote is based on my experience with cars, but you have a point about self-adjusting clutches. On a motorcycle, clutch adjustment is more likely to be required because of a stretched cable than clutch wear. In any case, I maintain that buying any car sight unseen, or depending on the seller’s speculative diagnosis, is a really bad idea.
Hydraulic clutches are self adjusting, but I would be concerned that “it is just hydraulics”. I really don’t think that is it, I think there is a more serious problem here.
If it was just hydraulics, driving 1500 miles would not be a problem. You could easily make it back unless you find that it is leaking. I think you are going to end up with $900+ clutch replacement.
<font color="Blue>keith, September 16 —
<font face=“Times” color=“Blue>”… but I would be concerned that “it is just hydraulics”. I really don’t think that is it, I think there is a more serious problem here. … I think you are going to end up with $900+ clutch replacement."
Based upon what evidence? The OP gave no symptoms regarding the car. How can you claim she may end up with a $900+ clutch replacement?
I’m beginning to feel you are always disagreeable just for the sake of disagreeing.
The real problem I see is a person buying a car off E-Bay with that knows nothing about cars. The OP needs to have that car checked out before she buys it. A lot can go wrong in 1500 miles.
A hydraulics problem can be detected by pumping the clutch pedal.
A low clutch pedal on a hydraulic system indicates something caught between the clutch plate and either the pressure plate or the flywheel. The most common cause of this is when the friction material delaminates and folds over. It can also be caused by a damper spring coming out of the slot.
Another cause is a broken flywheel bolt, but with that, you usually can’t open the plates far enough to be useable.
Mechaniker, you call me disagreeable? That is rich.
“I am purchasing a car on eBay…”
"…knows nothing about cars…"
This is a recipe for disaster. The clutch could be the tip of the iceberg.
There are plenty of men who know nothing about cars too.
I second Whitey’s advice.
Just for the record, I agree with Whitey too.
Thanks to all of you!
Here’s the thing, the initial description seemed like an issue that i could deal with once i got it home. I thought to myself… This could be nice, the leaves are changing (it’s in new Hampshire), I’ll take a week off of work and make a vacation of it (I live in new Orleans)… Then this wrench… I know you’re right, sight unseen is a bad idea, I admit I have a problem trusting that things will turn out, even though they rarely ever do. Optimism, it’s a curse!
I was thinking I could ask him to bring it to the dealership and have them look at it for me and make a decison after their response. The carfax on it was above average and the car has 118000 miles, i figured after the price of the vehicle, airfare, and 500 for new clutch, i’d still be getting a decent deal compared to the book value on the car… If that were all that needed to be fixed, and if 500 were all it took. With some sense talked into me now, i guess it could be more of an adventure than i was planning on! I’ll reneg on the deal and chalk it up to a lesson learned. Thanks for the sage advice!!
You did well.