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I drive a 96 Honda Del sol it's got about 200k on the engine. So lately my clutch hasn't been going into first or neutral when I try to start it. There is often very little resistance in the clutch at this stage, and the pedal often stays close to the floor. The engine, even if it's kinda warm (california winters), will read below cold. After waiting about ten mins with the engine running, occasionally revving for a few seconds in neutral, and after having pumped the clutch until resistance starts to come back and the temperature reads about half way, the clutch finally will go into first/reverse. This has been happening for about two weeks now; I've tried refilling the brake fluid, which may or may not have helped. I can't tell, but it's still a ten minute get into gear process. Any thoughts?

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It sounds like your clutch master cylinder is initially letting fluid past the piston seals. Pumping the clutch pedal sounds like it gets the piston sealing again so that the clutch starts to work.

I am presuming that the clutch and brake both share the same reservoir and that you are not loosing fluid and not having to keep filling it up. Is that correct?

If this is correct, you will need to replace the clutch master cylinder. It is possible to renew the seals, but often it is not worth the work and is easier and as cheap to replace the whole unit.

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I agree with @HandyHowie in that it sounds like your clutch master cylinder is on the way out. Something to check before you go this route, though, is the hydraulic fluid level for the clutch. Looking at the parts involved, it looks as though while the master cylinder reservoir is remote (not attached directly to the master cylinder), it doesn't pull fluid from the brake reservoir. Due to this, I'd suggest you see if the reservoir needs to have fluid added to it. If the fluid level is low, you'll probably need to bleed the system as well.

With all that said, there's usually only one way a hydraulic system will get low on fluid and that is because of a leak. I'm going to bet hydraulics replacement (both master and slave cylinders) is in your future, so even if this does alleviate the issue, consider it temporary with the need to get them changed out anyway.

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I had the same problem on a '97 Civic, and was actually able to see fluid leaking into the foot well from the master cylinder. Like Paulster said, you should check the clutch fluid reservoir (the smaller cup located right next to the brake reservoir). If you're up for a DIY project, one of your local auto part stores will probably have the master and slave cylinders in stock. They are both super easy to access and swap out, so all you need is DOT fluid, a bleeder kit (~$5), a friend to help you bleed, and a set of socket wrenches (probably 8 and 10 mm) to do the job yourself. – MooseLucifer Feb 26 at 16:05

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