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Chevy S10 clutch is dead (or at least coughing up blood)

My 1997 S10 (2.2L manual transmission) has a clutch pedal with no feel to it, it’s all spongy. With the engine running and clutch depressed, when I move the stick towards 1st or 2nd the truck nudges forward and I can’t move it any further.

Any diagnosis and potential cost of repair would be appreciated. Also, my mechanic is outside AAA’s 3 mile tow range so if you have any idea how to nurse it there without needing a tow (and without causing further damage) that would be great.


Most likely a hydraulic system failure,make sure fluid is full. One emergency technique you could use is starting in gear, with your path clear put trans in 2nd gear (3rd may also work) turn key to start (clutch pedal will have to be depressed due to clutch inhibit switch) car will move on power from starter,engine catches and you are off, if this will be the first start for the morning make a initial start to warm the engine up and make it easier to catch for this emergency technique.

Stop signs and lights are all on you (remember you can pop the trans into neutral and do the process over again)

Check the level in the clutch fluid reservoir. Add as necessary. If the level is not too low this might help. If the level has gotten really low the system will have to be bled to remove air. Pumping the clutch may help temporarily.

Sounds like you have a leak in the clutch hydraulic system, and the clutch is not disengaging. This is less expensive to repair than the clutch itself.

What good is AAA towing if they only tow 3 miles? Who has a mechanic closer than 3 miles?

If adding fluid doesn’t help, and your battery is strong enough, you might be able to start the engine with the transmission in first gear to get moving, or coast with the engine running until you can slip the transmission into first. Then you have to flat-shift the transmission by matching engine revs to road speed. Put it in neutral as you approach a stop and repeat until you get to your mechanic.

When the clutch cable broke on my old VW bus I used to drive it around like this until I could install a new cable.

thanks. I finally made it to the mechanic just now (I got it towed by AAA for 4 bucks for every mile over 3 miles, so not too bad) and it’s bad news: they’re looking at $1900 for a whole new clutch and throwout (I believe that’s what they said, I was too stunned to take great notes).
I trust these guys but just wanted to do a sanity check, does that sound about right? It’s a 97 but only has about 54K miles on it, but they are probably mostly short trips around town so it is a well-used clutch. They said it wasn’t anything that I did to damage it, just the age of the vehicle.

So… I can’t justify that kind of expense on a vehicle that’s worth only a bit more than that amount in running condition. My vague plan is to find someone who wants to fix it up as a hobby and do them a very good deal. Can anyone see a better plan?
(Warning: I’m not very handy, I don’t have much cash and the truck is impractical as I have a wife, child and another one on the way. And I don’t really even “need” it any more as the bus meets most of my needs, but I do love it. Sniff.)

Hold-up (literally) that clutch price is way out of bounds. This is the price given to a customer when the shop knows the customer is very concerned with the cost of getting the vehicle towed to a cheaper place.

Why did you not use the technique I described in the first thread of this post? I have traveled hundreds of miles like this.

I think now is the time to use your technique! I was just wary of doing further damage and there are a bunch of hills, stop signs and lights on the way. Time to give it a go, though… Thanks for your input, I’ll seek out a second opinion.

Re. your technique for driving without the clutch, I realized I have the problem of it being stuck in neutral right now so I can’t start it in gear. Mcparadise’s response suggests coasting until I can slip into first but I might not be able to get into a coasting situation where it is now. Any suggestions? Thanks again.

While $1900 might seem out of line it would depend on what they are replacing.

On ALLDATA I looked up the parts and labor for replacing the clutch assembly(pressure plate, disc,throw out bearing), flywheel, clutch master and slave cylinder and it could possibly add up to $1900. That is if they are replacing all of these components.

As far as driving this vehicle without using the clutch… do not do this. It is very dangerous. This is very bad advice from oldschool. Not only is it dangerous but you will cause additional damage to the transmission. Will you be willing or able to pay an additional $1000 to $3000 to fix the transmission after you ruin it shifting like he recommends.