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Won't go into first gear

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  • [Corsa D 2006-2014] Won't go into first gear

    2013 Corsa D SXI, 1.2 petrol with 5 speed gearbox
    just got a new 3pc clutch kit and linkage is apparently not worn. Fluid levels are right to the top. The system has been bled twice.

    Summary at the bottom going to give detailed account of all that happened first - will try to be as descriptive as possible to see if any details might help to see whats wrong.

    After I got the car on a 35 minute drive through suburban areas (40mph average) it got progressively difficult to select gear, particularly third. This culminated in it not going in at all to any gear. The stick travels between positions but appears to be at its stop without having engaged the gear or travelling the full distance forward or backwards to the gear position - it stops before engaging the gear? Upon turning the car off it goes into gear but will not change to any other gear. Manually shaking the linkage to check for any play in it and leaving it for about fifteen minutes made it work perfectly albeit a bit stiff. After two occasions of this after which it worked perfectly fine as soon as it arrived at the mechanic (!) the clutch was diagnosed as a possible cause (specifically the bearing) and replaced. Gear selection was very good indeed and all appeared normal.

    Three weeks later was out on Christmas Eve trying to get a park at Tesco's, wasn't riding the clutch but was creeping sometimes, not too much, certainly not enough to wear out the clutch in twenty minutes but quite a lot into first and second (rarely!) or neutral. Eventually had to go down the road to the next public car park and noticed had to be... positive in applying first gear, with a bit of a noticeable click or clunk as it engaged. After coming out of the car park to drive home this progressed with it requiring fairly forceable movement to engage first, reverse was smooth but third also required a fair bit of force. Ultimately it was impossible to get first, it again felt like it was at the stop without engaging any gear (although it only travelled halfway) and at junctions I had to turn the car off promptly select gear (which was very easy) and turn on again. I also had noticed in the car park the biting point was lower than normal, it's always been low but not that low. This was about the diameter of a £1 off the floor. After reaching home it again resolved again after a while. However I tried a pedal test; nothing happened which I found out seems to be normal for Mk III as you now need a proper diagnostic tool. I tried to drive into a field behind the house to test drive and nothing happened when I tried to move off normally, no stalling or anything; it just sat revving and not going (as if the clutch was fully engaged). The biting point is now nearly three quarters of full travel which is far higher than its ever been. The LUK clutch is self adjusting but for it to self adjust in that time seems impossible and I would hope I didn't wear it out in twenty minutes of reasonably considerate driving in traffic... Anyway; it would move off with the new high biting point and normal gas and would stall if I didn't apply gas - but it would stall smoothly if that makes sense, just dying rather than jerking all over the place.

    I can drive it now but don't want to as I'm scared of damaging it further especially after spending two hundred plus on a clutch. The symptoms are wired, especially the biting point suddenly going low then very high and intermittent.

    Sorry for the descriptive writing but just trying to describe exactly what's going on as I am stumped and don't want to leave out anything.... As a quick summary:
    - intermittently difficult to engage gear, progressing to being impossible with the engine on
    - replaced clutch, symptoms recurred after a while, biting point was very low (nearly on the floor)
    - biting point suddenly went very high
    - clutch fluid looks normal, no obvious leaks
    - and I have no idea what to do?

    Anyone any ideas?
    my ideas for fixing:
    - replace the linkage anyway as its apparently made of marshmallow
    - get the clutch adjusted such that the biting point is reasonable and hope for the best
    - try the alignment procedure in case the linkage is unaligned
    - get a new whole box (maybe just a new car unless I can try this one on ebay at £75 )
    Last edited by corsadlinkage; 26-12-2019, 08:58 PM.

  • #2
    I would certainly check the linkage alignment to see if it hasn't slip on the clamp bolt. The difference in clutch pedal travel sounds like a hydraulic problem to me, was the center hydraulic bearing change as well? Is there a leak on the outside of the gearbox where the hydraulic hose connected. Can you take it back to the Garage that fitted the clutch?


    • #3
      Welcome to the Forum.

      As Restorer says, it sounds very much is if there is a hydraulic problem, but it would be interesting to know why you had the clutch changed in the first place,was it just warn and slipping, or was it in an attempt to cure some other problem.

      Whilst it isn't impossible to wear out in a few minutes, it is VERY unlikely, and if you did manage to do so, a lot of heat would be generated and you would smell the results of that.

      As suggested, a return trip to the garage who fitted it is, I think, called for.



      • #4
        The release bearing was worn and the clutch had done 60k so thought it best to replace the whole thing at one go.

        What I can't remember and need to check is if the CSC got changed. It came with the two plates and a bearing but I am almost sure that it didn't have a CSC and a lot of these symptoms could be explained by the clutch not disengaging properly due to hydraulic problems as you say. What I'm thinking is unless it's because of metal expansion over time due to the heat of the engine something mechanical would be all the time?

        Does anyone have any things I can check in the hydraulics to see if they are working properly? I'm afraid I don't know much about hydraulics... My dad's cars all were ca
        ble clutch up till now and this is my first car!

        ​​​​I should get it back next week to check it. I've checked the master cylinder visually and certainly no leaks or visible wear but I couldn't actually find the CSC under the hood anywhere...!


        • #5
          I'm afraid that you won't find the slave cylinder as a separate unit, it is in fact within the clutch bell hosing along with the release bearing, going by the name of 'Release Cylinder.'

          With these clutches, the standard method of bleeding air from the system generally works, but if there still seems to be air in the system, there are a couple of further methods that should overcome the problem.
          (1) The standard method involves filling the fluid reservoir with new fluid, attaching a length of rubber/plastic tubing to the bleed nipple, submersing the free end of the rubber or plastic tube in a glass jar containing a small amount of clean fluid, opening the bleed nipple and asking an assistant to 'pump' the clutch pedal. The fluid in the jar acts as a valve, so that when the pedal is on the 'up stroke' fluid, rather than air is drawn back in. This procedure is continued 'till fluid clear of any air bubbles is ejected into the jar.
          (2) This is similar to (1) but the bleed nipple is NOT opened until pressure is built up by pumping the pedal - the pedal being kept pressed down to the floor before opening the bleed nipple.
          The potential snag with these two methods, is (a) all of the air may not be removed, especially if new parts have been fitted and/or (b) air is sometimes drawn in via the threads of the bleed nipple (method (2) reduces this risk)
          (3) Vauxhall recommend that the system is 'back-bled (fluid being pumped from the bleed nipple back to the reservoir - Special equipment is required for this method.

          It may pay to ask your garage if they have used method (3) and if not, then maybe this would cure the problem but only IF the problem is in fact caused by air in the hydraulic system.



          • #6
            As Walksall says the clutch release bearing is part of the clutch slave cylinder and not normally sold or replaced separately (on this particular design) , If you look at images of the CSC you will get the idea. You cannot see it under the bonnet. its hidden away in the bell housing with the clutch.

            If you have had a "'3 piece" clutch fitted the third part normally refers to the release bearing. (the others being the clutch driven plate and the sprung pressure plate) If the garage diagnosed the main problem being with the release bearing It would be extraordinary if they didnt change the CSC, as its all part of the release bearing. I'f they havnt replaced it I'd say its good reason to complain. Incidentally its good workshop practice to change all three parts at the same time even if the clutch plate still has some life left in it., so dont feel you have wasted money getting the whole lot replaced.

            As Walksall says take the car back to whoever fitted the clutch They may have made a mistake in assembly, or it may be leaking or need bleeding yet again until they get it right. They may do it foc under guarantee. It could be related to the master cylinder at the pedal end in which case there may be a charge, but hopefully they will feel an obligation to give you the best possible price.

            Incidentally if you are at the situation where the car is not going into gear try pumping the clutch pedal several times. If it then goes into gear it tends to suggest a hydraulic problem

            Its very unlikely you could have worn the clutch lining out again so quickly. I used to compete in off road motor sport where the clutch was VERY badly abused. ( It might only last 12 hours of competition , but that wasnt in Tesco's car park) You could smell the clutch long before the clutch finally expired. (we called it ' eau de Ferodo'. )


            • #7
              Thanks for all, I'll ask about the bleeding to see what they've done. Once I get it back I'll try aligning it as well. Hopefully between it all it will get sorted out!


              • #8
                I have this exact issue with my car! How was this resolved in the end


                • #9
                  replaced the clutch and nothing different, replaced master cylinder and it worked.

                  issue is the seals in the master cylinder leak if you hold the clutch down

                  so youll notice the clutch pedal dropping

                  as a stopgap, literally lift the pedal with your toe and it restores it for a bit till it drops again. but the soloution is to replace the master cylinder.


                  • #10
                    Wow I’m going to suggest this, they’ve said they can’t fault the car and they’ve test drove it. I simply know the car is faulty so will tell them this. Thank you