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Manual Transmission Issues


PaulyWally
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I don't think the type of car is necessarily important, but it's a 1st gen Mustang with the original 289. I don't own it. But I am considering purchasing it.

 

The original transmission was a 3-speed manual. Within the past couple years, someone swapped it to a 5-speed manual. I'm guessing it's a T-5. But I am not exactly sure right now. There is only about 500 miles on the 5-speed tranny.

 

It's been a while since I drove a manual trans. But I drove plenty of them in my youth. I know I've never drove a manual that was this difficult to operate. Here is what I am experiencing. Pardon me if I'm not using the correct terminology. I'll try to be as descriptive as possible.

 

  • The clutch pedal is stiff. Very stiff. One short drive and my left calf was a little sore.
  • The clutch pedal has a very long "throw".  I didn't use a tape measure, but it feels like it's a good 12" to the floor. I don't recall ever driving a car that had that much "throw" in the clutch. But that might just be how the 1st gen Mustangs are.
  • The clutch pedal needs to be completely (and very firmly) pushed to the floor in order to shift. I don't recall ever having to push so hard on a clutch in order to shift.
  • Unless I shift very slowly, there is some occasional grinding while up-shifting. Especially from 1st to 2nd.
  • When up-shifting and down-shifting, the gears don't engage AT ALL until the clutch pedal is almost all the way back out. 

 

Needless to say, this does not make for a very pleasant driving experience.

 

I was told the clutch is brand new and just needs to be "worn-in". I'm not a mechanic, but that registers on my BS meter. In addition, if the transmission only has 500 miles on it, why would the clutch have been recently replaced?

 

Can anyone shed any light on this? I'm wondering what the best course of action would be. Perhaps someone did a hack-job with the new tranny and it just needs a good mechanic to correct the issues. Or perhaps it's worth it to just swap a new tranny in.

 

Thoughts? Questions? Fragmented sentences? All info is appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance!

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Sounds like a hack job.  A high performance pressure plate used with high hp output might have been used but with all the other stuff going on it seems like a marginal job was done during the conversion.

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Another thing that occurred to me. Isn't there some kind of hydraulic that is "shared" between the brakes and the clutch? Again, I'm not a mechanic. But I thought I read that somewhere. That said, the brakes were also converted to 4 wheel disc during restoration. And the brakes felt like a wet sponge when I drove it. Not very good braking performance. I've felt better performance from drum brakes.

 

Could this also be a contributing factor? Or am I wrong and these are completely separate issues?

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T5s shift like butter. It just might be the smoothest transmission ever. Most of those issues sound like clutch problems, and I would be very hesitant to blame the T5 for any of this unless it is really old and worn out.

 

Are you sure it is a T5?

 

I would check the fluid. Most of them take automatic transmission fluid (ATF), not gear oil, or motor oil, or synchromesh oil like most other manuals. Check the tag on it and look on the Internet. The piece if info you are looking for is if it is "World Class" or "Non World Class". Yes that is real terminology from the manufacturer. "World Class" takes ATF, "Non World Class" is a far less refined transmission and takes more normal oil, probably synchromesh oil would do well in one of those.

 

With that out of the way, let's get back to the real problem, the clutch. A properly engineered clutch in anything remotely modern should not feel like that. It should seem to go "over center" with the pedal partway down and then get easier. This action might come from a diaphragm-type clutch pressure plate, as seen in older GM cars and basically everything modern, or it might come from an "over center spring" in the clutch linkage that helps you push after the pedal gets down a certain amount. The linkage might also be designed to go over center. The spring probably would have been used with a "Borg and Beck" style clutch with coil springs in the pressure plate. The early Mustang's original clutch was probably like that.

 

There could be missing parts, or the conversion could have been done wrong. The clutch fork must run at a reasonable angle for one thing, or there is a bunch of lost motion. Then there are the leverage ratios and angles of any other arms in the linkage.

 

Or, they could have put in a hydraulic clutch. That has nothing to do with the brakes except that it has a couple of brake-like cylinders that have a reservoir and use brake fluid like brakes. If they did that they may have not got all the air out when they bled it. Or, they might have got the leverage ratio wrong somehow where they connected it to the clutch pedal.

 

Another thing that could have happened is if they put some kind of high performance or racing clutch in there. It's pretty likely they did if the engine is hopped up. To handle more torque requires more spring pressure, and the pedal can be very uncomfortable.

 

Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that it is a hack job. People like to put all this stuff on like disc brakes, different transmission etc., but wont read the books and do the math to figure out how to make those things work right. Then they get mad and put the car up for sale. Mushy disc brakes are another common thing.

 

On a car as common as an early Mustang, parts are probably available to make the conversions you mentioned work right, although it is also likely much of it would need to be redone or replaced.

 

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As you are not mechanical I suggest you forget that car and buy a better one. Someone did a hack job of the conversion, probably used a heavy duty racing clutch and installed it wrong because they didn't know better. It might be straightened out but only by a competent mechanic and it would cost money. Unless the car is otherwise perfect (not likely, you also mention spongy brakes for example) and unless it is real cheap (also not likely) better pass on it.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks All! I appreciate all the input!

 

It's too bad because the car is absolutely beautiful. The body, paint, and interior were all restored exceptionally well. The body, doors, trunk, and hood are straight and function smoothly. And the engine bay and underbody are near spotless. I never thought I'd fall in love with a 1st gen 'Stang. But I did with this one. 

 

I'm not sure I'll try to negotiate on the price. I think the owner is pretty stuck at a high price, and I hate insulting a car owner by low-balling. But based on this (and other information I have on the car) I have a feeling he overpaid for it and wasn't able to fix the mechanical issues without sticking several more grand into it. So he's just trying to get his money back.

 

And yes, owner says it's a T5. And he "thinks" it's a World Class T5. I personally don't rely on it when someone says, "I think..."

 

That said, this would be my first classic car purchase. So I'm curious what you all think you might offer to pay for what I described? Near as I can tell, a very well restored 1st gen Mustang like this could potentially go for up to $40K. So I was thinking it might be worth it if he lets it go for $25K; and I would have to expect to drop another 5-10 grand depending on what a mechanic needs to do to fix the mechanical issues.

 

I don't think he'll sell it for $25K. But I'm curious if you veterans feel my figures are close to realistic. I know it's difficult without pics and other info. But the car otherwise seems to be in excellent condition.

Edited by PaulyWally (see edit history)
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If you can’t restore a Mustang and get it right......you can be sure the rest of the car is probably not right.

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If you feel that way, pay a local expert to look it over. Us telling you what we think, is really guesswork. Find a mechanic who knows that type of car and find out exactly what is wrong and what it will cost to fix or at least, a good estimate. I know you can't tell what you are going to find until you take things apart but there are things you can check in person that you can't over the net.

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A early Mustang is NOT rocket science........as a matter of fact........it doesn’t get much simpler or easier. No fault of non mechanical owners.........but if you can’t gat a transmission in a 60’s  Ford right, you probably can’t get anything right. Steer clear of the car. Good Mustangs with no bad habits are not that hard to find. If your only thinking price.......you whole approach to cars is wrong. Buy the best car you can find.....it’s much less expensive.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed I know what you are saying but there is always the chance the car was properly restored then a new owner thought he could "improve" it with aftermarket brakes and a 5 speed, and had the work done by a "mechanic" who didn't know as much as he thought he did. A good mechanic could check the car over and give the potential buyer a good idea what he is up against, we can't. I only suggest this because the OP seems sold on the car and says it is real nice other than the trans and brakes. If he pays someone $100 and gets warned off, it's money well spent. Or if it turns out the problems are minor, all the better.

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Rusty, your correct it could be done post restoration..........but to turn it around, how many miles would one usually get on a Mustang clutch? Could be 100k, or 1k. Poor workmanship is almost impossible to fix on restorations. I agree if it’s a good car and just a bad clutch......it’s a very easy fix.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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On 7/31/2021 at 12:02 AM, edinmass said:

A early Mustang is NOT rocket science........as a matter of fact........it doesn’t get much simpler or easier.

After all, it is just a Falcon! Ford's low end car in 1964. With better looking sheet metal....😉

 

I agree, sounds like someone put in a high performance pressure plate (clutch cover), like 1800 pounds. If you are not sliding your left foot off the pedal , you can use a standard sprung pressure plate.😲

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Another problem you might have is most mechanics will not work on a modified hacked up car, generally they spend a lot of time trying to fix it, and the customer is never happy, better to just walk away. 

 

I just did a 3 to 4 speed in my 1972 Mustang, took me about 2 hours.  My guess is they cobbled in a mechanical clutch linkage, saved a few bucks in parts.  A T5 conversion can be an excellent upgrade because of the overdrive, expect to pay $3500 in parts and probably $1500 to have a good mechanic install it.  So if you want to invest $5K in the car?

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