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When do I replace my clutch?

Hello all. Having gotten sound advice from you all before, I am turning to you again for help. I drive an '05 Honda Civic (manual transmission, clearly) and am trying to figure out if it is time to replace my clutch. I have a bit over 76,000 miles on the car, which I realize is not a whole lot for a clutch to go, BUT: I learned to drive manual on this car; one sister, though not learning the basics of driving manual, spent her first summer ever driving manual using the car; and I am now teaching my other sister to drive manual (I figured if the clutch was going, i’d rather her finish this one off than start ruining a new one).
I have been noticing that I don’t have to depress the clutch very far before it engages these days and that the actual gear shift feels a bit loose even when the clutch is not depressed. A friend who recently drove it felt that the clutch was going and thought I should replace it. I will be heading out of state for work in about a month and staying there six weeks, and wouldn’t want to get caught mid drive with the clutch going. On the flip side, I am a starving grad student with no money to speak of and am worried about the cost of replacement.
How can I figure out if this is something that needs to happen before I head out? and what am I looking at cost wise?
In advance, thank you all for your advice.

On a steep hill in 4th or 5th gear put you foot to the floor on the accelerator and watch the tachometer. If the tach needle doesn’t go up, then the clutch is holding and should be OK.

Slopply shifting could be a worn shift linkage. Have the clutch check but it sounds OK.

The Civic might not have a tachometer, UT.

To test a clutch, start the car, make sure the parking brake is firmly set and nobody is standing in front of the car. For safety sake, you could place the front bumper against an immovable object, like a large tree or a building, but on my Civic, the parking brake holds. Then put the car in 4th or 5th gear, and without touching the gas, let the clutch out slowly. If the engine keeps running, you need a new clutch. It the engine dies, your clutch is still good.

Whitey’s test is good, but I would feed it a little gas as you let the clutch out…The engine should stall immediately…When most clutch’s fail normally, (wear out) the engagement gets softer and softer until finally they start slipping when you try to accelerate in top gear…

Clutches are “engaged” when the pedal is released. They are disengaged when you step on the pedal…

Whitey’s test lets you know whether or not the clutch holds while putting around the parking lot. To test its integrity for demanding work, such as hill climbing, UT’s test is better.

I would suggest a variation of UT’s test. Drive in 1st gear at about 20mph. Then floor the gas and apply the brake. If the engine keeps reving while the car slows down, then the clutch is bad

My car doesn’t really move at 20 mph in 1st - never has

The higher the gear you are in, the worse it will slip…Clutches seldom slip in first gear. That’s why Whitey and I both recommend the same proven procedure…

Is this a hydraulic or cable actuated clutch?

If it’s a cable it might just need adjustment.

@Caddyman, yeah, my car is not engaging until the clutch is almost all the way up, which is why I am concerned that I will need a new one soon. I barely have to press down to switch from one gear to another. I just don’t have any sense of how long this will last. I will try your suggestion out in 5th and get back to you all. Thanks for your advice.
@circuitsmith - I have no idea

Sounds like a cable that’s just too tight, or hydraulics adjusted incorrectly. Although I wouldn’t have thought an '05 Civic would have a cable. It shouldn’t have adjusted itself too tight in any event, it should have gone the other way.

Here’s a civic forum link for adjusting the clutch pedal (they say it’s hydraulic):

That won’t completely solve the problem, though, but it is a required first step. If you have someone who can assist, have them sit in the car, and push the clutch down and up, etc, for you (engine off). You should be able to find the only moving part under the hood. There should be a rod with an adjustment nut on it. You can adjust that to loosen up the clutch pedal some. You won’t have to go too far, either. A few turns is all you should need.

“My car doesn’t really move at 20 mph in 1st - never has”

If your 05 Civic redlines in 1st gear before 20 mph, then put it in 3rd, give it at full throttle at idle and drive it that way until it hits redline. Observe any rpm jumps. If there is, then the clutch is slipping. Just letting out the clutch to see if it stall doesn’t tell you about the clutch’s ability to handle the engine’s full torque.

I think you have plenty of advice to decide if you need a new clutch or just an adjustment. But if it turns out your clutch is worn out at 76,000 miles, it is failing too soon for almost any car, let alone your 05 Honda.
Which might mean that your driving habits have worn the clutch prematurely. For example:
If you have a habit of resting your right hand on the shift while the car is in motion at highway speeds, stop doing that.
If any part of your daily commute includes a steep hill that ends at a stop sign, use the manual brake to hold the car in position while you let the clutch out rather than make your clutch do all the work.

Isn’t there any adjustment on your clutch? Seems like you’re looking to spend $$ here . . . why don’t you go ask the local mechanic if you need a clutch job? Pick the mechanic with the biggest boat in his yard. Kidding. Follow the advice posted by Whitey and post back with your results. Rocketman

not looking to spend money, I just sort of figured that with three new drivers on the car that It would shorten the clutches lifespan

My '03 Honda Civic has a hydralic clutch, and I think same for an '05 Civic. Doubt this is a simple clutch cable adjustment.

My 1988 Accord had a cable. My 1981 Accord was hydraulic. My 1975 Civic: cable.
I forgot about the '81 having an adjuster.

The cables do get tighter as the clutch disk wears down.

The OP’s 2005 Civic has a self-adjusting hydraulic clutch, and I am willing to bet it’s engagement point being so high, it is on its last leg. Still, I am curious about the results of the test.

not looking to spend money, I just sort of figured that with three new drivers on the car that It would shorten the clutches lifespan. I will try these out and report back.

If the hydraulics aren’t adjusted right at the master, the slave cylinder at the transmission can’t work properly. I still say adjust that, first. It shouldn’t be that high. Since it’s hydraulic, it doesn’t matter about wear on the clutch, the master pedal height shouldn’t change.

I’ve been wracking my head, and I can’t figure out how the cable (if a cable’s installed, which this isn’t) get’s tighter as a clutch wears. This makes no sense to me. Unless Honda has done something that Rover, Toyota, VW, Renault and a few others haven’t figured out. If they’ve figured out a way to use a “push” cable, then it would make sense.

I’m not calling anyone out, just trying to figure out why this car seems so different from anything else I’ve ever worked on or owned.


Shansta: I was kidding about the spending $$ comment. I personally have driven shop (dealership) vehicles . . . like a parts truck . . with lots more miles than your car . . . that didn’t require a new clutch. Also . . . my '89 Accord has 530,000 miles on it . . . and it is still the original clutch. I admit that I know how to drive it and that I’m the only manual driver in our family . . but still . . . a clutch will last longer than 76,000 miles. My advice is to do the test Whitey suggested and post back, and don’t worry about it. I would guess that you have many miles to go on this clutch. Rocketman