Clutch does not engage


The car worked fine last time I used it, 2 days ago. This morning I got in, pressed the clutch pedal, and it didn’t engage at all. No resistance, it just went down to the floor. A year or two ago I replaced the slave cylinder and a couple other things that I can’t name. Anyone have an idea what’s wrong? I know the mechanic is going to tell me everything is broken!


It would be easier for us if you identified this mystery car.


Oops. 1991 Ford Escort. Is that enough? Does the color matter?


You have a hydraulic clutch. The fluid has leaked out somewhere. First, acquire a container of DOT-3 brake fluid. Open the hood. Look on the firewall on the drivers side. You will see the BRAKE master cylinder mounted there. Next to the brake cylinder/booster, near the left edge of the firewall, you will see a smaller cylinder with a cap on top. Remove the cap and the small reservoir will be empty. Fill it with the brake fluid, put the cap back on, and pump the clutch pedal until, hopefully, some response is felt. Check the fluid level again. Drive your car to the shop and ask them to locate the leak and fix it…If the clutch will not respond to adding the fluid, the car will have to be towed to the shop.


Is there any reason that this car, with blown clutch hydraulics, can not be started in gear, shifted gingerly, and driven to the shop?


Don’t even think of it.


If you want to drive the car to a repair shop, it is not impossible. Put the car in neutral and roll it so it faces open road. Put it in 1st gear and start the engine. The car will jump forward as soon as you hit the starter, so plan ahead and make sure you have a clear path. Just keep the car in 1st gear an go 10 MPH or so to get where you need to go. Turn the engine off to stop.

I have done it myself, but I was lucky that traffic was light and there were no lights or stop signs to get in the way. You must plan carefully before you do this and evaluate the route to the service shop. It might not be safe in your situation