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Must press hard on clutch to start car

Lately, I’ve been having to press very hard on my clutch to get my '03 Vibe GT to start. It seems like it’s worse when it’s colder, but it was happening a bit even when it was warm. Hydraulic clutch… any thoughts?

The problem might be with the clutch pedal interlock switch.

The switch is located above the clutch pedal. And it’s a safety device that prevents the engine from starting unless the clutch pedal is depressed.



Was thinking that, but I’d assumed the switch either works or it doesn’t, and that the amount of pressure needed to trip the switch wound’t change over time…
Do clutch safety switches require more pressure to engage when they’re going bad? I thought they’d either just work, or it would break and not work.

I was wondering if it’s an issue with the hydraulic system… does the switch relate to that at all, or is it simply a matter of the position of the pedal?

Contacts in any switch can wear.


more detail please. what exactly happens when it doesn’t start?

no sound at all? a single click? starter runs (whirr-whirr sound) but engine doesn’t “catch” ?

Thank you for posting this question, and the possible answer. I live in a cold climate, and I’ll know what to try when this happens.

Ok… I’ll try maybe taping a couple pennies to the clutch arm where it hits the switch as a workaround for now… I’ll look into a replacement. Thanks!

I have a Corolla, similar to a Vibe, and have had a similar problem. The switch on the inside is a slider arrangement. It doesn’t matter how much force you press on it, that’s not the issue. What matters is where that slider’s internal contact hits the other stationary contact. Imagine you have a ring on both your index fingers. Slide your fingers past each other, the rings will only match up in one position. For some reason on your car when the “rings” match up, they’re not making contact.

Replacing the switch is the preferred method. It’s an inexpensive and easy to replace part. A person could bypass the switch though, although I’m not recommending that as a solution as doing so could be unsafe. It might be possible to reposition the swtich a little, I think it screws into a holder, so you could try backing it out a half turn etc. But even if that works, it will likely only work for a while.

Note if you are hearing a “click” from the engine compartment when this happens, but not followed by the normal cranking sound — that rrr rrr rrr . That’s probably something else, not the clutch safety switch.

The switch may have come loose so you have to push the pedal further for it to make contact. OR, you may have added rubber floor mats on top of the carpeted floor mats to protect your floor and its this extra thickness that you are fighting. BTW, the latter was in a recent edition of the Rockauto newsletter that someone reported as a blunder they made.

Still waiting for the answer to these basic questions. Without that, all you can get is guesses.