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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it possible to hear or feel the clutch slipping without having difficulty shifting gears? Or is difficulty shifting gears always the first and most noticeable issue when a clutch is going out? And, is it possible for a shop mechanic to diagnose a clutch issue without taking the whole clutch/transmission apart? (2000 Escort zx2)
 

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Do you have tach? If so, one way to self test for a slipping clutch is get the car up to 20-25 mph, shift into 4th and accelerate. If the RPMs and speed raise at the same rate clutch isn't slipping, if the RPMs go up significantly faster, the clutch is slipping.
 

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Is it possible to hear or feel the clutch slipping without having difficulty shifting gears?
Yes. As Dave suggested above, if you can hear the engine RPMs go up and the speed of the car not have a DIRECT correlation to the increased RPMs then your clutch is slipping.

Or is difficulty shifting gears always the first and most noticeable issue when a clutch is going out?
NO... a worn clutch will cause slipping.
Difficulty in shifting can be due to a problem in the clutch hydrolic system, or the trans synchros, and perhaps others.

And, is it possible for a shop mechanic to diagnose a clutch issue without taking the whole clutch/transmission apart?
YES.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Do you have tach? If so, one way to self test for a slipping clutch is get the car up to 20-25 mph, shift into 4th and accelerate. If the RPMs and speed raise at the same rate clutch isn't slipping, if the RPMs go up significantly faster, the clutch is slipping.
I'll try this today. The first time I noticed something odd was while accelerating entering a highway, it was during a rainstorm but it didn't feel like hydroplaning. The car didn't slide, it didn't feel like I lost traction or anything like that, the RPM's shot up like I was hitting the gas in neutral. This happened 3-4 times in a row, each time I shifted gear. Later that day it would do something similar (just not to the same degree) every time I accelerated to pass someone. When I accelerated to pass I would have a split second where it felt like I was in neutral even though I was in gear. Later that trip the a/c compressor clutch went out and I somehow managed to attribute these oddities to the a/c, at least I told myself it was something with the a/c.

I haven't done any highway driving since that time though. In my regular driving I notice the...whatever I'm feeling mostly during the heat of the day. It's not as noticeable in the morning or evening. Yesterday while stuck in construction traffic I noticed something similar to what I felt on the highway that day. When upshifting, starting at 1st, I had a second where it felt like I was in neutral each time I shifted even though I was in gear and had already released the clutch. This feeling is like I'm either in neutral for a second or I have extremely decreased power for a second or two. I thought maybe it was related to the a/c system again (since the a/c is working again after 7 months of not working), but it doesn't seem to be any better with the a/c turned off.

It would make a lot of sense if it was a clutch issue I was feeling/noticing, I have almost 166,000 miles on this car and this is my original clutch. I'm just hoping not to have to replace it soon since we've done $600 worth of work on it in the past month (a/c, tires, alignment) and the clutch in our Explorer needs to be replaced too. Ugh.
 

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You don't have to do that test... your clutch is shot. Go gentle on the gas peddle to eek out as much as you can from it. When you feel it slipping, back off of the peddle until you feel it catch. When it is slipping, it is wearing.
 

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Difficulty in shifting can be due to a problem in the clutch hydrolic system, or the trans synchros, and perhaps others.
So question to the OP about this point. Have you had any brake work done recently? The clutch works off of the brakes master\secondary cylinder for it's hydraulic pressure, so if there is air in there it could be causing you some issues.

However, by what you have described I would have to agree with Poppy, sounds like your clutch is done for. I would do yourself a favor, if you aren't mechanically inclinded, find a buddy with everything tool\experience wise you need and see if they'll do it, a shop will most likely bend you over w\out lube. Or if you are inclined to do it yourself. I know it's not always an easy job, but yeah. I was quoted something like 1200 for the clutch in my 95 Contour, and that was 5 yrs ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No new break work done recently. My husband replaced the pads (?) back in November I think. My husband did the a/c work on the car recently. He told me replacing the clutch isn't that big of a deal, not too hard or expensive, but doing it along makes it a little more tricky. Unfortunately no one likes helping with stuff these days, we used to be able to bribe friends/family with beer. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have another question about the clutch going out...hoping (and praying) that the worn clutch could be the answer to this issue too. Starting around the same time I first noticed what I assume was the clutch slipping (when I was upshifting and it revved but didn't accelerate even though it was in gear and the clutch was released), I've noticed a strange sound/vibration. At first I thought it was because the tires needed to be replaced, but that didn't help. Then I thought it might be the tie rod/ cv joints, but those are fine.

The sound is quite hard to describe, almost like a "whoop, whoop, whoop"...similar to a helicopter in the distance. It's difficult to hear over the normal noise of the engine or the a/c compressor, so no one else riding in the car has been able to hear it. It also causes a slight vibration which makes it feel like the car is running rough, but we can't find anything that would make it run rough.

I found this website about troubleshooting clutch issues: < Troubleshooting - Clutch > which mentions noise or vibration coming from the area of the clutch... I would assume that the clutch would be under the clutch peddle, but I really don't know much about cars at all. I'm not even sure I fully understand how the clutch works but realized several years ago that there's no point in people trying to explain it to me. Anyway, I'd say the noise/vibration is coming from that general area since I assumed it had something to do with the tires/tie rod/etc at first.

Since a clutch kit would come with most, if not all, of the things that could possibly cause noise/vibration would you just do the clutch replacement and hope it takes care of the noise/vibration too? I'm thinking our other option (which really isn't an option financially) is to not replace the clutch and try to find another vehicle.
 
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