HELP! Very Hard to shift Manual Trans When Cold

  • sirstinky
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6 months 3 days ago #200448 by sirstinky
Hi everyone. Sorry for the long post. Looking for help before I haul the car off to another mechanic for help. A little history: it's a 1999 Ford Escort ZX2, 5-speed with a hair under 160K. Here's what's been fixed in the last 3 months: New clutch, new master, new slave, driver's CV, crank sensor, rear main, cam seals, resurfaced flywheel, new plugs. The car ran fine before all this happened. I am mechanically-inclined and do maintenance on my cars, but I couldn't do this job myself...

I was driving along and the clutch pedal goes to the floor and the car wouldn't shift. The clutch pedal wouldn't pop up unless I pulled it up with my foot. I managed to get the car into 2nd and nursed it into a cul de sac until I had it towed to a shop. After spending $1200 on the new clutch disk, master cylinder, resurfaced flywheel, throwout bearing, new CV axle, rear main, cam sensor, transmission service w/new fluid etc. It ran okay with the exception of throwing misfire codes and having stuttering off the line when shifting from 1st to 2nd. After the 500 mile break-in, I took it back and had the tech look it over, adjust the pedal, looked it over for clutch function, etc., and he couldn't find anything wrong with the misfire code. Cool. Misfire continued with the car running fine, so I took it back a couple weeks later to have the crank sensor looked at and it tested fine. No word on the misfires and I wasn't taking it back again for it since it ran fine.

Fast-forward into November. When the car was cold in the morning, the clutch was very floppy- little to no resistance pushing it down until it was almost to the floor. Shifting into reverse was nearly like grinding the gears and very rough- not the usual mechanical 'clunk' I was used to. Then into 1st and it was nearly impossible to shift, like the shifter linkage hit a wall and I had to work real hard into 1st. I got it in gear, and the shift to 2nd was equally hard. 3rd a little easier, and 4th and 5th were okay. It behaved this way and got better as it warmed up, but still little resistance on the pedal and it was hesitant to spring up.

I took the car back a 4th time, and had the guy look it over. Turns out the slave cylinder was 'weeping' and needed replaced, and a poop storm ensued because it wasn't changed with the rest of the hydraulics in the first place. Ugh. Fixed it for $173. He said he put in a new clutch return spring to fix the other issue.

So it was okay after that for a week then it got down into the low 30's last night and when I went to drive the car in the morning, reverse was harsh and it was near impossible to get into 1st and 2nd gear. Pedal was super floppy like before, but now wouldn't spring back up. I had to pull it up with my foot. It got better as it warmed up. The shifts into 1st, 2nd were rough, but it's getting dangerous to drive when it's cold. I am at a loss here after dumping a ton of money into an old car that's otherwise been really reliable until these issues. I am ready to take it to another shop that just does transmissions, but I am pretty bummed since I've spend a lot on already. I can't afford a different car right now either. Is this as simple as a new return spring? Maybe a pedal adjustment? The tech said it was adjusted, but the spring was worn out and supposedly 'replaced it' but I doubt it.

I don't want to take it in to another shop, but that's looking like the only option. Help!

Thanks in advance,

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