Clutch on the way out in France?

Sep 17, 2017
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We've spent the day driving from Italy (Turin), across the mountains to France to get to the Verdon Gorge. As we cross the border and while it was sleeting with loads of standing water, I was taking it easy, and then the clutch pedal started to feel odd. The bite point was really low and it was popping up really slowly and softly. I pulled over at a safe spot and realised that if I pump the pedal a few times, it feels like it's back to normal... but only for a few gear changes, before it gets slow and soft at popping back up again. We've limped on for another half an hour and stopped at a campsite near Gap.

I'm guessing that it's a hydraulic issue if pumping it makes it come back for a bit??? I'm not sure, but I think the hydraulic fluid is shared with the brakes. The brake fluid was changed about 6 months ago and the brakes feel fine. We've done quite a few mountain passes in the past few months, but I don't think I've cooked the fluid yet. The brake fluid level is on max.

Any suggestions on what it could be? What can I check? I suspect I'm going to roll it down the hill to Gap with my fingers crossed that I don't get stuck at a junction with no gears. I'm also expecting that I'll be waiting until Monday to find a garage that'll take a 3 tonne and 2.5 metre high van.
 
Apr 13, 2012
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What's the base vehicle?

Can you pump before every gear change to keep you moving?
 

DP+JAY

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Is the reservoir full? The feed for the clutch is higher in the reservoir so you notice the low level before it affects the brakes.
 

TheBig1

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If its a fiat the clutch slave cylinder is inside the bell housing with the clutch. If that has failed its false economy to replace without the clutch being changed at the same time. The hydraulic system for the brakes is entirely seperate
 
OP
G
Sep 17, 2017
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Sorry, failed on the basic info...

It's a 2007 x250 Ducato 2.3. It's done about 70k miles.

The brake reservoir appears to be on max. I guess that means I'm not pumping all the fluid out?

At the moment I'm pumping the clutch and it appears to keep it going. I'm just concerned that it'll suddenly get worse. I also don't want to do any more damage.

Could it be the clutch itself that's going, or does it sound like hydraulics if I can pump life into it?
 
Jul 13, 2008
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Could also be the master cylinder under the pedal, have you had the hot air blowers on? My master will start to squeak and can be slow to return if it gets hot. 2004 2.8jtd
 
Dec 21, 2011
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If its a fiat the clutch slave cylinder is inside the bell housing with the clutch. If that has failed its false economy to replace without the clutch being changed at the same time. The hydraulic system for the brakes is entirely seperate
The clutch as stated above is entirely separate from the brakes. The vehicle will have a different hydraulic system for each item.

If you can pump it back it is usually a hydraulic problem but as said if it is in the clutch bell housing it would be a false economy to not replace the clutch.
 
OP
G
Sep 17, 2017
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Could also be the master cylinder under the pedal, have you had the hot air blowers on? My master will start to squeak and can be slow to return if it gets hot. 2004 2.8jtd
It's an x250, so I don't know if it applies. However, it did start not long after I turned on the hot... It was 25C earlier in Turin, but sleeting on the passes!
 
OP
G
Sep 17, 2017
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The clutch as stated above is entirely separate from the brakes. The vehicle will have a different hydraulic system for each item.

If you can pump it back it is usually a hydraulic problem but as said if it is in the clutch bell housing it would be a false economy to not replace the clutch.
So if it's the slave cylinder, it's inside the clutch housing. So lots of hours to labour. And while it's in bits, I may as well get the clutch done too.... I think I'm going to have an interesting time talking to a french mechanic when I only speak enough french to get a coffee... :crying1::crying1::crying1:

If the clutch reservoir is separate on a 2.3 engine, where is it? Could it just be the fluid is low or needs refreshing?
 
Apr 13, 2012
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I've driven vehicles without a clutch to get me home - matching engine speed with gearbox - I do it now all the time in my 28 year old Eriba, I use the clutch but 'blip' the throttle between gear changes believing it helps clutch and gearbox

Not suggesting you travel too far without having it checked

.
 
OP
G
Sep 17, 2017
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I've driven vehicles without a clutch to get me home - matching engine speed with gearbox - I do it now all the time in my 28 year old Eriba, I use the clutch but 'blip' the throttle between gear changes believing it helps clutch and gearbox

Not suggesting you travel too far without having it checked

.
I blip the throttle on downchanges and try to release the clutch as the revs match on upshifts. I drive with my foot off the clutch. I'm one of those rare people that use the handbrake instead of riding the clutch at lights... I am however guilty of powershifting from 3rd to 4th when I'm trying to keep momentum up over steep passes (Fiat: Why is there such a huge gearing gap?), so it could be my fault...

Two questions:
1) How do you pull away from standstill?
2) If the pedal is on the floor, won't I be stuck out of gear?
 
Dec 21, 2011
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To pull away - switch the engine off. Put it in 1st gear and then turn the key to start the engine.

Your starter motor won't like it but it will pull away and start. After that to stop - knock it into neutral and brake.

Repeat line 1 to move off.

To change gear match the rev's and move the gear stick - your gear box won't like that either.

The above is ok to get you home from the local pub but from South of France I would bite the bullet and get it repaired.

Brace yourself for the bill though.

But do u have any fluid leaks? Are there any puddles on the floor or stains/wet areas under the van?
 
Apr 13, 2012
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I got moving by using the starter in 2nd - might not work in a heavy van though, stay well back, try to keep the vehicle rolling
 

Chris

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In my experience when you think the clutch is going then it usually is.

I would try to book yourself in somewhere ASAP.

I had a clutch go in France a few years back and it was a right PITA to sort out:mad:
 
OP
G
Sep 17, 2017
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But do u have any fluid leaks? Are there any puddles on the floor or stains/wet areas under the van?
It's been pee'ing it down with rain most of the afternoon and the light isn't great, so I can't tell at the moment. I'll have a look in the morning.

I did check under the bonnet and I couldn't see anything blatantly wrong with the tank or lines... (although the fuel filter housing looks decidedly sticky... grrrrrr).
 

yodeli

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Tell me exactly what you want to say to the mechanic and I will write it down in french on here .
You'll just have to copy it on a paper OR
Call me when at the garage and I will say it myself and get the mechanic answers translated back to you
I can give you my mobile number on a private message
 
Dec 29, 2012
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I've just had the same problem. Look underneath where the gearbox joins the sump if clear fluid leaking thats the clutch fluid leaking from the slave cylinder.
I am at a garage in Royan free camping:) and waiting for it to be repaired. They are very busy and cannot complete repairs until next week. We speak very little French but managing with google translate. Good luck.
 
Dec 8, 2017
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The French for clutch is 'embrayage'
The French for seal is 'bague d'etancheite'

Learnt that just south of Rennes in about 1994 :(

If you're not losing fluid (reservoir full & no fluid leaking underneath), then it's probably the master cylinder which will hopefully be easier/cheaper to sort out.

Not much help, but if you can keep it rolling, you can drive a long way without a clutch.
 

yodeli

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@Guigsy
Just in case you didn't get it .... I'm French.
I have had a look at google translation for the french sentences I've put on here, and Google is wrong!
Huile de
boite : this is colloquial language and by all means it doesn't mean a b***** can !
You can trust me, I know enough on the mechanic matter to be your translator!
Anyway .... I'm not always in front of my computer , but I'm sure if you give a shout on here, someone will be able to give you my phone number.
Good luck!
Amicalement
Frankie
 
OP
G
Sep 17, 2017
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Birmingham, UK
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Van conversion
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2017
@Guigsy
Just in case you didn't get it .... I'm French.
I have had a look at google translation for the french sentences I've put on here, and Google is wrong!
Huile de
boite : this is colloquial language and by all means it doesn't mean a b***** can !
You can trust me, I know enough on the mechanic matter to be your translator!
Anyway .... I'm not always in front of my computer , but I'm sure if you give a shout on here, someone will be able to give you my phone number.
Good luck!
Amicalement
Frankie
Merci Frankie. The very helpful site owner is phoning a couple of garages for us as we speak. IF he finds anywhere for this morning I'll drop you a PM.
Thanks again.
 
Sep 5, 2009
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It's a 2007 x250 Ducato 2.3.
So was mine, with about 50k miles. I had exactly the same symptoms in Germany last year, but perhaps a bit more rapid. The clutch pedal wouldn’t lift without assistance. We limped to the Aire we had planned to stay on but the following morning there was clearly no clutch pressure at all. We had Green Flag and were rescued to a Fiat commercial garage about 30 miles away.
Long story but the result was as several have suggested; slave cylinder leaked, contaminated clutch plates, major repair required. I’m afraid it cost us a lot of €.
Best of luck.
 
Jul 13, 2008
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I've just had the same problem. Look underneath where the gearbox joins the sump if clear fluid leaking thats the clutch fluid leaking from the slave cylinder.
I am at a garage in Royan free camping:) and waiting for it to be repaired. They are very busy and cannot complete repairs until next week. We speak very little French but managing with google translate. Good luck.
Wonder if you both have the same engine/year....?
 
Dec 29, 2012
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T
[QUOTE="Greenway, post: 3341468, member: 24093"]slave cylinder.
That you translate by : Cylindre récepteur d'embrayage (and certainly not Cylindre esclave as Google thinks)[/QUOTE]
Thank you, yes we are beginning to understand the limitations of Google translate.
 

yodeli

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Oct 12, 2008
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You should ask for "Linguee" which is far better and reliable as really able to find the right words on different subjects.
Google mainly goes to the basic ones : for slave related to slavery it will point out the word esclave and not the mechanic word
 
Oct 12, 2009
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I've driven vehicles without a clutch to get me home - matching engine speed with gearbox - I do it now all the time in my 28 year old Eriba, I use the clutch but 'blip' the throttle between gear changes believing it helps clutch and gearbox

Not suggesting you travel too far without having it checked

.
Guigsy

That advice from Barclaybasher is certainly worth following as it is possible to avoid using the clutch, which will reduce the problem whatever it is.

I practise that technique and like him I have driven home, from Wetherby, Yorks to St. Albans with no clutch.

Just change down to first before lights, roundabouts with hazards on and wait for a clear road.

That is only an interim solution to get you to a repair shop.

Good luck.

Geoff
 
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