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Old 11-27-2012, 09:39 PM   #1
CGfreak102
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Manual transmission not shifting in cold weather

So i have been having an issue with my 03 ZX3 Zetec, more specifically with the 5spd transmission.

Ever since it has got cold here in Wisconsin, my transmission upon start up does not want to shift at all. What i have to do to get it working again is pump the clutch for 5-10m and then i will be able get it into second or third and from there, i find if i do some laps in the parking lot across the street, shifting from 1st to 2nd that gets my clutch working normal again. Once i get on the road i find if i double clutch i can shift like there is nothing wrong.

When i push the clutch down, and push it into first or second. the car rolls forward and sometimes starts to stall (i see the rpms dropping so i put it back in neutral.)

When i first start up the car, the feeling of the clutch pedal is like there is nothing there. After pumping it for 5-10m i get the feeling of a clutch engagement and disengagement, albeit not how it was during the summer.

Now after driving for 20-30m it seems that this issue disappears, until i park the card for 3-4 hours and then it returns.

If the weather is above 50 degrees i do not have any issue besides at times its rough going into gear, but that has been like that since i got the car a year and a half ago.

Some other details, it has 138k miles on it. Got it when there was 116k, i have not changed the break fluid, or transmission fluid yet, not sure when the past owner has changed it. if i remember correctly the previous owner said he changed the clutch around 80-90k miles, or he has not changed it yet. Kinda forgot, whoops.

I remember last winter, it being stiff at times, but never this bad, this is entirely different and a lot harder.

When i checked the brake fluid container, it was on min and it seems old. So what im thinking about doing tomorrow is picking up some MTX fluid from ford dealership and some dot 3 fluid from a auto parts dealer and changing both of those. Would that be a wise choice?

Thanks
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:16 PM   #2
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I would advise having fresh fluids put in the trans. Use the Ford honey it is what most swear by here.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:09 AM   #3
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I would advise having fresh fluids put in the trans. Use the Ford honey it is what most swear by here.
I did a tranny swap 3 months ago with new fluid (including 1 qt. of the $20 Royal purple stuff), new clutch, new slave cylinder, and a lot of new brake fluid ended up getting mixing with the old. Had no problem bleeding the air out of it. Replaced the clutch master cyl 2 yrs ago. All that and I'm having the same problem as CGfreak, Like the clutch isn't disengaging to let me shift.

Has anyone heard of running straight 75w or lower viscosity during the winter months?
Just wondered what the harm would be in using thinner gear lube and if it would result in smoother shifts.

And oh yea focus fanatics this is my first post!
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:27 AM   #4
jburkey28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CGfreak102 View Post
So i have been having an issue with my 03 ZX3 Zetec, more specifically with the 5spd transmission.

Ever since it has got cold here in Wisconsin, my transmission upon start up does not want to shift at all. What i have to do to get it working again is pump the clutch for 5-10m and then i will be able get it into second or third and from there, i find if i do some laps in the parking lot across the street, shifting from 1st to 2nd that gets my clutch working normal again. Once i get on the road i find if i double clutch i can shift like there is nothing wrong.

When i push the clutch down, and push it into first or second. the car rolls forward and sometimes starts to stall (i see the rpms dropping so i put it back in neutral.)

When i first start up the car, the feeling of the clutch pedal is like there is nothing there. After pumping it for 5-10m i get the feeling of a clutch engagement and disengagement, albeit not how it was during the summer.

Now after driving for 20-30m it seems that this issue disappears, until i park the card for 3-4 hours and then it returns.

If the weather is above 50 degrees i do not have any issue besides at times its rough going into gear, but that has been like that since i got the car a year and a half ago.

Some other details, it has 138k miles on it. Got it when there was 116k, i have not changed the break fluid, or transmission fluid yet, not sure when the past owner has changed it. if i remember correctly the previous owner said he changed the clutch around 80-90k miles, or he has not changed it yet. Kinda forgot, whoops.

I remember last winter, it being stiff at times, but never this bad, this is entirely different and a lot harder.

When i checked the brake fluid container, it was on min and it seems old. So what im thinking about doing tomorrow is picking up some MTX fluid from ford dealership and some dot 3 fluid from a auto parts dealer and changing both of those. Would that be a wise choice?

Thanks
-CGfreak102
I have a similar problem with my SS. The clutch is very sticky and the back pressure on the pedal is strong. It doesn't like to shift at all.
I just let it warm up for a few minutes, pump the clutch a few times and it's better.
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Old 11-28-2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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It's obvious that these are hydraulic clutches (as opposed to cable-actuated). Our Focus is an auto trans, but my Saab is a manual with a hydraulic clutch. The only info I don't know about the Focus' setup is if the hydraulic fluid is shared between the brake system & the clutch system, or if they use two separate reservoirs. Can you answer that for me?

Transmission oil should have absolutely nothing to do with this problem.

My Saab uses a shared reservoir. Of course, the standard maintenance interval for brake fluid has always been "replace every 2 yrs or 30k mi, whichever comes first." This is because brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, & that water will eventually corrode the metal lines & caliper parts. With a shared reservoir, you should flush the fluid out of the clutch line at the same time that you do the brakes.

And that's as far as most people go (if they even think of it). However, I've learned over the years that the clutch really needs flushing more frequently in order to maintain proper feel & function. This is because the seals & pistons of the clutch system travel so much more than those of the brake system, & so they generate much more wear & debris that needs to be cleaned out. Because of this, I do my clutch at 1 yr intervals.

If your hydraulic fluid is of unknown age, flush both the brakes & the clutch systems. The fluid's probably pretty nasty. Drive it for a week or two, then flush just the clutch system again. The fluid will still look like crap, but it should be better than the first flush. At that point, you're good for another year. When next year rolls around, just do the clutch system again.

EDIT:
I forgot to say, these symptoms (indicating old fluid & deposit buildup) typically show up when the weather turns colder. Seals aren't as flexible as when it's warm out, so the hydraulics function much less efficiently & these symptoms start showing up. I just went thru this on my Saab, here in Northern Colorado, with the clutch engaging almost at the firewall. After performing the flush/drive/flush sequence I've been following for the past decade, my clutch engagement has now returned to the end of the pedal travel where it should be.
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Last edited by Eiron; 11-28-2012 at 03:29 PM. Reason: Additional info
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:28 PM   #6
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It's a shared clutch/brake fluid reservoir, and I agree about disregarding trans fluid for now. If it were my car I'd bleed out whatevers in the hydraulic lines and get new fluid in, and make damn sure when refilling that you bleed out all the air.

I don't know what effect the ambient temperature is having and why the problem goes away, it just sounds like there's air in the system up until that point.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:26 PM   #7
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Just got done bleeding the clutch. When the fluid first came out it looked like oil. After that took it for a test drive and it works flawlessly. The test will be how it shifts tomorrow morning.

Thanks for the input guys.
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Old 11-28-2012, 11:21 PM   #8
CGfreak102
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Update:

So i was driving home from dinner tonight and i noticed my foot was slippery. Looked down and noticed that my master cylinder was leaking, it was perfectly fine until i bleed the system today. i know i over filled the reservoir to the point when i put the lid in, it spilled out over the edged, do you think its just that? Going to monitor over the next few days.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:00 AM   #9
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Thank you for your advice, 6SPD and Eiron, it seems that CGfreak and I need to stay on top of the condition of our hyd fluid since we have such aging cars.
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:40 AM   #10
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Sounds like the clutch pedal master cylinder gave out on you. It has nothing to do with how much fluid you put in. That would explain why it got air in it and made it hard to shift and also why pumping it would make it work for a little while. It's a common part to go out on our cars with age.
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