My Clutch Pedal Won't Come Back

by John Cook
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On a manual or stick shift car the clutch is what allows you to change gear. It is connected to a pedal on the floor by either a cable or a hydraulic link. The cable and the hydraulic link provide the auto-return so that after you press the pedal it comes back to its proper position and the clutch re-engages. Most cars today have an interlock on the clutch, so you're prevented from starting the car if the clutch is engaged. If the clutch won't come back, you may not be able to start the car, and you almost certainly won't be able to drive anywhere if you do. Fortunately, you may be able to temporarily fix the clutch so that you can get to a repair facility.

Step 1

Pump the clutch pedal to try and bring it back up. Sometimes this will create enough pressure to get it to function long enough for you to get home.

Step 2

Open the hood and add clutch fluid to the reservoir. The location will vary depending on the make and model. Fill the reservoir to the recommended level and pump the clutch to work the air out of the system. Also look at the fluid to see if it looks dirty or cloudy. Dirty and cloudy fluid is a symptom of a leak somewhere in system.

Step 3

Check the master cylinder and slave cylinder for leaks. Look around the seals for stains that may be evidence of fluid coming out. Also look for dents, cracks or other damage that could suggest a problem.

Step 4

Check the clutch cable for stretches or breaks. Check the back of the pedal and make sure the cable is connected to the back. Also make sure the cable is still connected to the top of the clutch. Without tension on it, the cable can come loose from either place.

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