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Noise after new clutch install - Can't get into any gears

12/16/13 UPDATE & SOLUTION - THE CLUTCH PEDAL NEEDED TO BE ADJUSTED! (Thank you Rod Knox!) [But on a separate issue, I’ve got grinding/scraping in first, second, and third, which got better with the new clutch and bearing install, but still quite bad in first and second.]

So before this new clutch install, the car was making this grinding/scraping noise driving in first, second, and third. Sometimes it wouldn’t grind/scrape in first and would be smooth and quiet. I had no problems driving like this hundreds of miles. Any ideas what this might have been?

I installed a new clutch. On a guess, or a hunch, or basically just throwing parts at it, lol, trying to fix that grinding/scraping noise.

Now with the new clutch installed, it makes a terrible noise with my foot off of the clutch in neutral. I can’t get into any gears; it’ll just grind gears.

Here is a video of the noise. Again the noise only occurs with my foot off of the clutch pedal. Quiet with my foot on the clutch. I can’t get into any gears.

1996 Honda Civic

A few questions first…
Did you install only a clutchplate or the entire “kit”?
Did the kit include a pilot shaft? Did you use it?
Is this your first clutch job? Did you work with someone who’d done this before?
Did you follow a repair manual or “wing it” (no disrespect if you winged it, we all have at one time in our lives)?
Did you test the hydraulic clutch release system? Did you adjust it?

-New pressure plate, clutch disc, and clutch release bearing
-I’ve replaced a clutch before.
-Used Alldata
-How do you test the hydraulic clutch? I don’t know, I don’t believe these are adjustable.

If the disc was installed backward it will cause the problem. Is there enough fluid in the clutch master?

They are adjustable at the bell housing end. Basically, the slave cylinder (at the bellhousing end) should be moving the release fork back & forth to engage and disengage the clutch as the clutch pedal is used. There is an adjustment procedure. Alldata should show it. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to any databased system (I used to use Mitchells). If I had access I’d link you to the clutch adjustment procedure. It reads to me as if the clutch isn’t releasing.

Have you guys heard the noise of it in the video that I posted?

I did.

What would be the symptoms of a clutch disc installed backwards? (I’m 99% certain it was installed correctly.) There is enough fluid in the clutch master cylinder.

Alldata does not show an adjustment procedure. Do you mean I should adjust the clutch pedal?

Can u engage any gear gear with motor off? Do u have to be in neutral to start car? Or rev? Don’t know Honda scheme.

Yes I can engage in any gear with the car off. I do have to be in neutral to start the car.

Well, I can’t tell you exactly what is making the noise. But I can tell you that it all has to come back apart and when you tear it down again and inspect you’ll see what has been hitting what.

It seems clear that the hammering goes with the engine’s rotational speed. With the clutch let out and in neutral, the only things that shouldn’t be spinning with the engine are the throwout bearing, release fork, and bell housing. And even if you somehow had a bent / distorted finger on the pressure plate assy I still can’t image that making a hammering noise.

Did you pull the flywheel to have it resurfaced or just slap the new clutch on? Either way, did the flywheel bolts get checked for looseness or torqued to spec? Did the pressure plate assy get seated fully and correctly and those bolts torqued to spec?

The only time I, personally, have encountered such a sound on one of my own vehicles was on a '95 Caravan with an auto trans. A flex plate bolt had worked its way loose and the head protruded enough to start hammering on the dust cover at the bottom of the bell housing. The noise was not dissimilar - something like a jack hammer at idle and grind with higher engine speed.

I sanded and buffed down the flywheel, as I’ve done before. I did not touch the flywheel bolts. I did torque down the pressure plate bolts to spec with a torque wrench.

(I could be wrong, but I’m thinking maybe in the process of bench-pressing the transmission onto the engine from the ground, maybe I bent a finger or got the throw-out bearing loose or something? But again you’ve said you can’t imagine a bent finger making that sort of noise.)

Should I maybe replace the flywheel? Could a distorted or bent or otherwise faulty flywheel possibly be the cause of the problem? From what you’re telling me about your Caravan, it seems to make sense. Maybe in the act in prying off and taking off the transmission and putting it on or a loose flywheel bolt or something along those lines may have done something. Could it be the dust cover? But it’s strange that I can’t get into any gears. Why wouldn’t I be able to get into any gears with my foot on the clutch?

Does pushing the clutch cause the noise?

I push in the clutch and turn on the car in neutral. No noise.

I slowly let my foot off and I hear the noise.

I think the problem is in the throwout bearing or in the transmission, but since this is a new noise, I’m thinking the throwout bearing is not secured to the fork so that when the input shaft to the transmission and the splines of the input shaft start to spin, they are hitting a part of the throwout bearing.

Maybe the ears on the throwout bearing caddy are slightly offset and you put it on upside down, causing the throwout bearing to be slightly off center. Maybe on of the ears on the bearing caddy is bent. Did you have to replace the bearing in the the caddy or did the new one come complete with the caddy?

If the engine can be started with the transmission in any gear when the clutch pedal is pressed the problem is absolutely not an improperly installed clutch disc. From the video, if the whining sound was when attempting to engage a forward gear and the grind when attempting reverse it is certainly a dragging clutch… HOWEVER, you mentioned a troubling noise prior to replacing the clutch and your description would indicate that the transmission input idler bearing was failing or the transmission oil was very low and if so that bearing would be about to fail anyway.

Is resistance on the clutch pedal at a much lower position now than when the clutch was operating properly?

Have you checked for fluid in the clutch master cylinder?

There is an adjustment mechanism at the bell housing or at the pedal and on minimal free play is required there.

Trying to force the transmission into gear is damaging the synchronizers.

And, back to that input idler, If that bearing has totally failed it will allow the input shaft to run off center, causing the clutch to drag.

All in all it will be difficult to determine what is wrong via this forum unless you have the patience to make some checks and post the results here or on another good forum and w-a-i-t for replies before moving on unless you recognize the problem yourself.

Good luck. An empty clutch master cylinder and low oil in the transmission would have been my guess before you did all that dismantling.

So first things first, what should I do then? I should start with the easy stuff first, and if those aren’t it, I’ll pull the transmission right? The clutch master cylinder is full with fluid. The transmission fluid is full with new fluid as well. The clutch pedal might be a little lower than before, but I can’t be certain. It did sink to the bottom and I had to pump it repeatedly to get it normal again. Had some trouble getting the slave cylinder rod onto the clutch fork, and was able to pull the entire rod out. Finally pushed it in and got it to seat in the clutch fork.

Should I adjust the free play?

I’m thinkin’ the clutch disc was installed backwards too.


I think I see the problem. I am assuming that the clutch in a 96 Civic is probably the same design as the 97 Accord. I think the noise is coming from the release bearing because the shift fork may not be seated correctly. I looked in the FSM for the Accord and without actual parts in hand, it was a bit confusing.

When you assemble the fork and bearing assembly, there is a spring on the backside of the fork. It looks like it pops off when you remove the fork, so you have to reinstall it on the backside of the fork. Then you slide the ends of the fork over the pawls on the throwout (release) bearing.

Then you slide the bearing down the input shaft of the transmission while sticking the fork through the side of the bell housing. When it is in place, you push down hard on the fork, toward the transmission so that the spring snaps over the head of the pivot bolt. If that spring did not snap over the pivot bolt, the fork and release bearing will wobble around when the clutch is released.

I also think that you do have an issue with the transmission, namely the input shaft bearing. If it is worn out, the input shaft will wobble around more than in other cars because it appears that Honda doesn’t use a pilot bearing.

There is no adjustment on the slave cylinder.

Yes, adjust the clutch free play. The adjustment is on the master cylinder push rod at the pedal.

@Tester, If the clutch disc is installed backwards the center hub is trapped so tightly that depressing the clutch pedal will not release it enough to start the engine in gear. Have you ever tried to install a disc backwards? It is difficult to compress the pressure plate to get the bolts started. I have attempted installing a couple backwards just for grins and giggles because it seemed totally impossible when looking at the clutch. It is possible but difficult.