New clutch not engaging

My father and I were replacing a worn out clutch disk on my sisters car. We replaced the clutch disk, pressure plate, and throw out bearing with no problems; however, when we put the transaxles back into the transmission we noticed that they could spin freely despite the transmission being in first gear. The clutch is not engaged even when the clutch pedal isnt being pushed in. We stopped putting the car back together until we could figure out what was wrong with it. Does anyone know how to fix this problem? Any advice is much appreciated.

The car is a 2005 Hyundai Elantra with a 5-speed manual transmission.

So, if you rotate the clutch (like the engine would), the axles don’t move?

Sure the clutch disc was installed in the right direction? The cushion springs should be away from the flywheel bolts and facing the transmision.

Just mentioning that because I’ve seen it a few times.

If the input shaft is turned with no axles installed one output will turn without the other moving. That is the function of the differential. Turn the input and try to hold both outputs.

But of course I am again shooting from the hip after reading between the lines here.

And if neither output turns are you certain that the transmission is engaged in a gear?

Short of dropping the transaxle and breaking the case it is unlikely that you have damaged it as you removed it.

Are you sure it is FULLY engaged in first? Trust, your’s would not be the first time.

@ok4450 I’m 100% positive the clutch disk is in the right direction.
@rod knox This car is a front wheel drive car so it doesn’t have a differential.
@bustedknuckles How can you tell if it’s fully engaged?

Thanks for the input guys!

Essentially the problem is the output shaft is spinning freely despite the transmission being in a gear.

Even though it is a front drive car it has a differential, its internal to the trans axle assembly. If you turn one axle shaft and hold the other one still one will still turn even if the car is in gear due to the open differential, try this…

Try turning both axle shafts in the same direction at the same time with the same force with the car in first gear, you shouldn’t be able to rotate them in that scenario.

Or… Put the car in 5th gear and rotate the engine (Only In the proper direction!!), the axle shafts should turn, or at least one of them should. They may even turn in opposite directions.

I almost bet everything is ok, the differential is just making it seem like nothing is connected to the engine, just remember if you were to have that car brand new off the assembly line and jacked up one front wheel off the ground and left one wheel on the ground and the car was in gear, you would be able to freely spin the wheel in the air and it would have no effect on the engine or the other wheel on the ground. This is normal.

Now all this goes out the window with a limited slip or locking differential, but the 05 Elantra has an open differential and what you are describing sounds normal.

@WheresRick‌ You solved my problem. When I tried turning both axles at the same time they wouldn’t turn, so it looks like there’s nothing wrong with my car. Thanks a ton, mate.


No problem, Glad we all could help. Its always kinda nerve wracking (at least for me it is!) doing a big job like a clutch and I don’t blame you a bit for making sure everything is right while you are putting it back together.

Let us know how it goes!

@WheresRick‌ You solved my problem.–An Indiana boy scores again. Way to go fellow Hoosier.