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The "Ask a Mechanic" Thread


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For our resident mechanics, a question on manual transmissions. I have owned two vehicles in my lifetime that were stick shift, a 1986 Nissan pickup and my current vehicle, a 2002 Ford Explorer sport. Getting ready to get a new one, thinking I want to get manual. I seem to have an issue though. After about 20K miles (truck originally had 140K miles at purchase), I had to get a new clutch for my truck. This was back around 1998, so I was a teenage driver, etc., but seemed like rather quick problem. Got my explorer in 2002, and since then have had to replace the slave cylinder once at about 75K miles, and get a fully clutch replacement at about 130K miles.

Just wondering if there's something in my driving habits that may be causing the clutch to fail. Generally speaking I downshift quite a bit, as opposed to going straight from 3rd or 4th gear to neutral when breaking a light, (i.e. I'll go down to 3rd first, maybe 2nd, before popping it into neutral and hitting the brakes before a light or stop sign). I'm also very strict in my upshifting, so that I never crank my RPMs above about 3000. Bascially ride second gear to 27 mph, 3rd gear to about 40-45mph, 4th to about 55, then 5th gear above that. I was told at one point this shifting procedure would save my engine and transmission, but I'm also thinking that the amount of shifting is causing my clutch to go bad before its time. Any thoughts on how to improve efficiency?? Does this truly "save" my engine and transmission?

Thanks in advance.

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Think of a clutch like brakes. They both use a friction material to "grab". The more you use them the quicker that they'll wear. The harder you are on them the quicker they'll wear.

That said, about 130k out of a clutch isn't too bad. They hydraulic components aren't really a function of how hard you are on something so I wouldn't say that your driving habits have any impact on your cylinder.

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A clutch is wearing any time the pedal is not fully released or fully depressed so that time should be minimized. What rpm you shift at isn't really a factor, smoothness is. The more you make the car jerk and buck, the more wear and not just on the clutch. If you do downshift, I enjoy it myself, you should learn to rev match as this will save wear on all components in the drivetrain. That said, if you're getting 100k plus on a clutch you're not doing bad. Slave cylinder failing is not related, their internal seals fail over time, nothing to do with driving style but the failure can lead to a clutch failure by contaminating the disc with brake fluid.

This reminds me of a conversation I've had with my wife more times than I like. She has a habit if coasting in neutral down a hill then back into 4th with a jerk and I ask her why she wants me to have to replace her engine mounts and axles? Either rev match or leave it in gear, dammit.

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Rev matching does take a bit of skill.

Heel toe does, rev matching isn't too hard to learn. you're not doing your car any favors down shifting without it, though. The savings to your brake pads are minimal and clutches and mounts are a lot pricier than brake pads.

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Heel toe does, rev matching isn't too hard to learn. you're not doing your car any favors down shifting without it, though. The savings to your brake pads are minimal and clutches and mounts are a lot pricier than brake pads.

Agreed.

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I'm hoping someone can help me out with my current car; a 2005 Altima.

I drove it into Pittsburgh today (about an hour ride) and home and had no problems with it whatsoever. Then I let the fiancee take it to school for a meeting (7 minutes there and 7 minutes back). She said everything was perfectly fine and "normal" while she was driving it.

Five minutes after she got back we got in with some friends and tried to go somewhere. The engine is making a whining noise as well as something that I can only describe as being akin to the blades on a helicopter. The car wouldn't get over 25 mph whatsoever, but the RPMs weren't shooting up. It wasn't that the car was struggling to go fast (as if the gear didn't change) rather, the car simply wouldn't go fast. I was flooring the pedal and it simply wouldn't accelerate.

I immediately pulled over and turned it off. When I turned it back on, everything was perfectly fine and normal. It ran just fine, until I got to the first stop sign. At the first stop sign, I came to a complete stop, and it was back to the original problem. The car operates under this condition for about two minutes, and then functions perfectly fine as if nothing is wrong (quite suddenly); until I brake to zero. The moment I come to a complete stop the whole thing goes kaput again.

Weirder still, because I suspected transmission, when I switch from "drive" to "sport mode" (that weird thing where it lets you "shift" even though there isn't actually a clutch) the dash reads that it is in 5th gear. The car refuses to let me shift up or down out of 5th, it is permanently stuck in 5th. It sounds bizarre because, if I'm doing less than 20 mph, why on earth would it even get out of 1st, maybe 2nd? I'm truly baffled by it. Of course, I can't take it to the dealer until Monday and I was hoping someone could help me at least guess what the work is going to hit me. Can anybody help?

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Any chevy owners? I have a 2012 silverado and the left side ( driver side ) both front and back is exactly an inch lower than the other side? anyone know what could be the cause? from my understanding truck has never been wrecked. I know it's only an inch, my girl doesn't notice but hey it's my truck and I notice everything on it.

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I'm hoping someone can help me out with my current car; a 2005 Altima.

I would guess the Transmission Control Module

---------- Post added March-17th-2013 at 07:24 AM ----------

Any chevy owners? .

probably a out of adjustment or weak torsion bar

http://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-and-Parts/Chevrolet/Silverado/2012/SSK-107.html?vehicleid=20124132

or it was set up by a NASCAR fan :silly:

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depends....sometimes they can flash them(or the ECM) instead of replacing

I'd guess replacing one at a dealer would be 350-4, but that is a wild guess

but from the description it seems a electronics issue which is cheaper than a tranny rebuild

add

could be something as simple as a bad connection

Edited by twa
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depends....sometimes they can flash them(or the ECM) instead of replacing

I'd guess replacing one at a dealer would be 350-4, but that is a wild guess

but from the description it seems a electronics issue which is cheaper than a tranny rebuild

add

could be something as simple as a bad connection

I think you're right about the bad connection. I get in there this morning and just jiggled the wires and made sure everything was plugged in all the way and now it runs perfect. My check engine light is still on but the problem has completely gone away. I'll get it into the dealer first thing in the morning to make sure I didn't just get super lucky (sounds like I did, haha) and to try to prevent it from happening again. But it sure seems like it was some sort of a bad connection rather than the actual transmission (knock on wood).

Thanks for the help twa.

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2007 Jeep Liberty, 92K miles.

Two weeks ago had a safety recall performed and they replaced the "rear suspension lower control arms". Tonight, I noticed that there is a high pitched metallic squeak. Not saying the two are related necesssarily. Sound is audible during:

-deceleration (like coming to a stop)

-going in reverse

-1-35 MPH (did not test at higher speeds)

Sound seems to be coming from front right.

Need held/advice/insight please on possibilities. Thanks.

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2007

Need held/advice/insight please on possibilities. Thanks.

Perhaps a brake/rotor issue.

I would take a look at the brakes first.

Last time I had something like that was because I needed new brake pads, nothing serious, easy to change (if you have the tools), took me about 5 minutes at the store and about 40 minutes doing the work.

However, there are plenty of guys more qualified than me to get a better opinion.

Good luck with it.

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backing plate bent, bearing going out....brake pad most likely(designed to squeal when worn)

is it continuous when moving?

Yes, as long as I wasn't stepping on the gas.

But Went out this morning to take it to the shop to get checked out and the sound is gone. Drove around for 30 minutes and couldn't reproduce it. I'll just take that as a win . . . for now.

-----

Dammit sound is back. Spoke too soon.

Edited by Elessar78
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I have a 1999 Tahoe. One of the check engine codes is "P0440" Evaporative Emission System. I got a new gas cap so I doubt if that is it. Somebody told me it could be a piece, but I forgot what the name of it is. I took a picture and was wondering if someone could help me identify the piece....

423391_10200615374769475_669777995_n.jpg

Oh yeah, the truck is also making a loud whistle noise. and I think that is a result of something being clogged. I know it's not the intake manifold.

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carbon canister,or evaporative canister

it could simply be the gas if you got one with high ethanol content(E-15) or the valve on top of the canister

http://www.theautopartsshop.com/auto+car-usa+parts/chevrolet+tahoe+vapor-canister-purge-valve.html

So it's the same as this piece:

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/parts/Duralast-Canister-Purge-Valve-Solenoid/_/N-jd17lZ9gsrq?itemIdentifier=349807_166316_0_

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Transmission Link Broken

How common is that? Mechanic wants to charge $230.

Link?....cv shaft or drive shaft maybe?

yr and type of vehicle help

add

shift cable maybe?

Edited by twa
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I am back again about this Tahoe :doh:

I recordeed a video to see if anybody could help me identify what the heck could this sound be.

I sprayed the belts with some belt spray and WD-40, but I think it's bigger than that. I changed the Vapor/Charcoal Canister and the fuel purge. The joint still makes the same noise.

It doesn't make it when I accelerate, only when it is in idle or park.

You might want to turn your sound down a little before you play the video....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw5UVlNV5oQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw5UVlNV5oQ

Any help/suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks...

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Just curious. My heater/AC/defroster stopped working. Its not the fuse.

Three figures to fix this? Or 4?

In related news, I may be selling a 2003 Nissan Maxima GLE. Black w/ black leather interior. No heat/AC/defroster, otherwise runs great!

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Just curious. My heater/AC/defroster stopped working. Its not the fuse.

Three figures to fix this? Or 4?

In related news, I may be selling a 2003 Nissan Maxima GLE. Black w/ black leather interior. No heat/AC/defroster, otherwise runs great!

I've had so many people tell me, including "professional" mechanics, that they've checked the fuse and it's good only to find a blown fuse that no matter what someone tells me I always check it myself. Are you 100% sure the fuse isn't blown? How did you check it? Otherwise, the series resistor for the blower motor could be the culprit, have you tried all fan speeds? Many cars send direct power to the motor on highest speed bypassing the resistor so when the resistor fails you'll only have the highest speed. Also could be the switch itself or the motor itself. Impossible to say exactly but I doubt it would be a 4 figure repair.....unless it's one of those electronic/automatic climate control systems and the control module ate it.

Edited by DCsportsfan53
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