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Shifter/Clutch Issues 16v


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I have a 1990 16v, mfg 11/1989,  common block engine, mileage:  32,263, which recently has developed shifter and possible clutch problems.  Friday, during a leisurely 40 mile drive on secondary roads, the shifter become more and more difficult to engage gears, especially 1st and 2nd.  Toward the end of the drive, I could not engage 1st gear.  Also, when I stopped and turned off the motor,  I detected a very brief smell of burning rubber, which I associated with a bad clutch.  I did not notice any smells during driving, but the top was down. This has never happened before and I am hoping it was a one-off situation, with the clutch only overheating temporarily during that short drive.  The mileage would be low for non-abusive clutch failure, but the car is 30 years old.  The car drove well as always with no apparent problems otherwise.  The following info is provided:

 

Purchased the car from 2nd owner early August 2018, recording some 9,300 miles since then.  Previous owners kept the car in good condition.

The shifter moves easily in all gears with engine power off, clutch engaged or not.  

With engine powered up, 1st gear will not engage, 2nd gear will with effort, the other 3 gears and reverse not so much an effort.

With parking brake on, and in each gear, the car accelerates forward or reverse as normal, with no apparent clutch chatter or slippage.

I do not ride the clutch when driving.

In driving, the car does not slip out of gear and no clutch sticking.  Pressure on the clutch pedal is the same as always, a very solid feel.

No apparent oil leaks or oil smell.

No coolant leaks.

No gasket leaks or problems.

I replaced the original brake accumulator on Jan 9.  Braking system works well, and no fluid leaks.

No noticeable transmission noise.

After reviewing the shop manual, newsletter archives, and previous info on this forum, I am hopeful this problem can be addressed with gearshift linkage or other adjustments and not the need for a new clutch.

Any suggestions you guys can provide is greatly appreciated.

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 You wrote: "Friday, during a leisurely 40 mile drive on secondary roads, the shifter become more and more difficult to engage gears, especially 1st and 2nd.  Toward the end of the drive, I could not engage 1st gear.  Also, when I stopped and turned off the motor,  I detected a very brief smell of burning rubber, which I associated with a bad clutch. "

 

It would appear that maybe the shift cable is touching the exhaust pipe under the middle of the car. Take a close look and report back.

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Had something very similar happen with my 90 16v car - the culprit was a loose cable at the transmission.  It may take a couple of tries to get it adjusted exactly right.  If the cable actually came off the trans it could very well be touching the exhaust which would cause the smell.  

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