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Dear James, I have finally gotten a good job after a couple of months of being unemployed. The problem is, I can’t move my 1978 MG! The engine will start and runs fine. I just can’t put it in gear! I try pushing in the clutch and it just grinds the gears. I can start it up in gear, and it will move. I just can’t stop it with out killing the engine. I did not have any problem when I parked the car two months ago. My funds are limited and I really need my car to go to work. Any ideas what I can do to get it where I can drive it safely? R.P. Parker, Fl.

Dear R.P. From your description of your problem it sounds as if the hydraulic clutch has picked up air. This is not an uncommon problem on cars that sit for extended periods of time. Let me explain what I am talking about. The hydraulic clutch uses a clutch master and slave cylinder. It uses the same brake fluid in your clutch system as your brakes use. When a car sits, not being used, the brake/clutch fluid will slowly leak out. It only takes the loss of a few drops of clutch fluid before an air bubble will develop in your clutch hydraulic system. If air gets in the system, you will notice your clutch pedal has very little resistance when you push down on it. This is because you are compressing air, not clutch fluid. If you didn’t have any air in the system the clutch pedal would be feel normal. It now feels loose with no resistance and you can’t get it in gear! Now that we understand what is wrong, now we need to get you back on the road. Purchase a small “New” unopened bottle of DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid. (I prefer DOT 4) Open your hood and find the clutch master cylinder reservoir that your clutch master cylinder uses. (It is normally all the way to the right on your firewall in your engine compartment) Remove the clutch master cylinder cap and fill to the full line with brake fluid. Make sure you put the master cylinder cap on tightly. Open the bleeder screw on the slave cylinder and have an assistant gently and slowly push down on the clutch pedal while you hold your finger on the "open" bleeder screw. After about 4 of 5 pumps, close the bleeder screw and see how your clutch pedal feels. If the pedal is normal, then you are finished. If the pedal is still low you may have other problems such as a collapsed clutch pressure plate or misadjusted clutch. Peace and prosperity in 2012! James Morris

 

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