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Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

 
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Old 15 Sep 2019, 11:34 am
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Default Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

I've got a 5-speed 2002 PT. Over the last couple days the clutch has started slipping into neutral randomly while I'm driving. I put more brake fluid in the reservoir yesterday morning but it slipped again while I was driving around last night. What should I be checking out next?
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Old 15 Sep 2019, 04:06 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

It's not the clutch that slips into neutral, it's the transmission.

Clutches pretty much work or don't work. If the clutch fluid was low you'd have trouble getting it into gear. That would be a leak in the clutch hydraulic circuit. A properly working clutch hydraulic system does not use (lose) fluid.

If the clutch itself was worn out it would slip, or not deliver power to the transmission.

Transmissions can slip into neutral if they are not properly engaged itno gear. How has the PT been shifting? Is it shifting OK or shifting sloppy, with trouble getting into gear. PT manual transmissions have two cables between the shifter and transmission. Each cable has a bushing at each end of the cable (four bushings total). These bushings are a bit of a weak point, with the bushing deteriorating and falling out. The generally accepted repair for bushing failure is to replace them with Booger Bushings (not kidding). These bushings are solid polyurethane,work well, and are reasonably durable. I run them myself.
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Old 15 Sep 2019, 04:28 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

Thank you for the thoughts and clarifications. Ive been doing some googling and am going to order new bushings! Hopefully that will help.

The PT has been generally shifting okay, but sometimes I have to jerk it a couple times to lock it into the various speeds - usually it's just an issue in parking lots where I'm reversing and moving forwards a lot.
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Old 20 Sep 2019, 04:39 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

Update: I replaced the bushings but they weren't that bad and that didn't fix the problem. I went to check the transmission fluid, but it was buried in the engine compartment, and I had to go to work, so I dropped it off at the mechanic. They said transmission fluid was fine, but that something's wrong in the transmission synchronize, and advised me to just stop driving in 4th gear (where it's been mostly slipping). I'm not cool loosing a gear, so I'm thinking on this. The mechanic implied that the repair would require a new transmission and I might do that, but I want to research all options first.
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Old 20 Sep 2019, 08:33 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

I dug a little deeper. I have a 2001 Service Manual. From the service manual:

SLIPS OUT OF GEAR
Transaxle disengagement may be caused by misaligned or damaged shift components, or worn teeth on the drive gears or synchronizer components. Incorrect assembly also causes gear disengagement.

That sounds like the mechanic's diagnosis.

You verified the bushings are OK. The only other thing I can think of outside the transmission that could cause popping out of gear would be a problem with the selector cable (it doesn't appear to be adjustable). If this was the case, I might expect problems keeping it in gear in 2nd, 4th and reverse, since the selector cable is positioned the same for all those gears.

You could ask the mechanic if it could possibly be a problem with the shifter mechanism or selector cable. I think it would be worth inspecting the shifter assembly and cables (the mechanic may have already done so), to make sure it's going fully into gear. If the shift mechanisms weren't putting it fully into gear, it could have a tendency to pop out of gear. If the shift mechanisms are putting the transmission fully into gear, then it likely is a bad synchronizer assembly.

Disclaimer, I'm not an auto mechanic, but worked in a service station in my youth. I did rebuild the manual transmission in a '68 Scout and had to replace synchronizers in a '78 MGB, that was quite long ago, but I still try to keep my hand in car repair.

Good luck.
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Old 21 Sep 2019, 03:27 am
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

I"ve busted a few transmission synchronizer's in my early days and the usual result was the gears grind when shifting, drove a jeep that had bad bearing and it would slip out of gear.
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Old 21 Sep 2019, 04:00 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

You guys are awesome! Thanks for all the advice.

There's no grinding unless I try to hold the stick and keep it from jumping to neutral - although I do have the jerk the stick around pretty roughly to put it into reverse. I'll bring up the other suggestions when I take it in. I've looked at both ends of the shifter cable and it looks almost brand new. (It was replaced last year).

Today I ran some errands around town and by the time I was done, 3rd and 5th gear are also slipping regularly into neutral, so whatever it is, it's getting worse. It's hard to drive with half my gears failing, so my baby's going to a transmission specialist on Monday. Hopefully I can get an exact diagnosis and a full repair quote.
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Old 23 Sep 2019, 06:26 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

Random Update: The local mom and pop transmission place doesn't think it's the synchronizer. They're theorizing that the shifter cable (which is about four years old) has stretched - but they don't work on manuals anymore so I'm looking for mechanic #3. I'm mildly hopeful that it's not gonna need a full transmission replacement...
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Old 23 Sep 2019, 08:07 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

One of the things that can happen with a cable, other than stretching, is that they can fail where terminated. I had a parking brake cable where the end, it looked like a bead of metal somehow "molded" onto the end of the cable, pulled off. If the termination was slipping on the cable that could effectively lengthen it. Just a thought...
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Old 23 Sep 2019, 08:32 pm
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Default Re: Clutch Keeps Slipping Into Neutral?

Thanks! I'll check it for that when I get it home. I'm half thinking maybe I'll try to replace the cable myself since nobody in my town seems interested in tackling a manual transmission and I've already been hands on with both ends of the cable.
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Last edited by SkyCaptain; 23 Sep 2019 at 08:36 pm.
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