I have been racking my brains over this very odd issue. Here is the problem. I recently got this car (95 Honda Del Sol Si 5 spd 160k miles) as a second car. The previous owner claimed that the clutch had been changed fairly recently but I foolishly allowed their superficially nice personality to sway me and didn't demand paperwork. Unfortunately the car seems to have the following problem:

  • When the car is started cold, the idle stays high (1500 rpm) for a bit - I believe this is normal.
  • What is odd is that while the idle of the car remains > 1000 rpm, I am unable to shift the car to any gear while holding the clutch down. The gear lever just won't go into any gear. Trying to put it into reverse grinds so horribly that I stop quickly.
  • Once the idle is <= 1000 rpm, the car is able to shift reasonably ok.

What I have done so far:

  • Bled the clutch and verified that the master and slave cylinders aren't leaking on the outside. The clutch fluid I got out was nasty as heck (brown, black). This appeared to make no difference to the above behavior.
  • Changed the transmission oil. No difference in behavior as well and the oil that came out of there was pretty brown.
  • Adjusted the clutch freeplay. Original freeplay was over an inch (close to 2 IMO) and I was able to bring it to barely under an inch though I don't have much more adjustment left before I run out of threads.

Any ideas please? Is this transmission shot or is there a less expensive explanation/fix? EDITS: updated list of done tasks and moved history/context to the top paragraph.

  • 1
    Usually when a clutch won't allow you to shift into gear, it's due to the fact the clutch is not completely releasing. The only thing you might check since you eliminated the master/slave, is to ensure there isn't any flex in your firewall (where the master is mounted). I had an issue where when I'd push on the clutch, it would flex outwards, not allowing me to get a full clutch pedal swing and therefor not allowing the clutch to fully disengage. Just a thought. Oct 18, 2015 at 1:58
  • Thanks Paulster2. The firewall looks pretty solid to me and I had also adjusted the clutch freeplay to be under an inch with no luck. The funny thing is that the car will begin to shift reasonably well once the rpms fall to under 1000.
    – user11128
    Oct 19, 2015 at 4:03
  • I thought my firewall looked pretty solid as well. Only way to tell for sure is to see it while pressing on the pedal. Also, try taking all (or as much as possible) the free play out and see if anything changes. You keep saying it's reasonable below 1k. It should go in slick as butter at any rpm range, low or high. Oct 19, 2015 at 8:17
  • Did the previous owner switch motor tranny? What is the Engine and Tranny Code? I'm assuming it's the D16B series but i'm curious if they put in the D16Y series. If they did that also makes me wonder if they used the wrong clutch. Care to edit with Engine and Tranny code? Oct 19, 2015 at 16:31
  • @Paulster2: it is down to the last 2 threads on the freeplay so I can't take anymore out - under an inch is the best it will do afaict.
    – user11128
    Oct 19, 2015 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


I can't leave a comment. I asked my tech who loves hondas and races them for the past 10+ years.

Have you adjusted the clutch pedal?

After reading what you have already posted, that was his "less expensive" repair/suggestion. So his suggestion goes along with the "firewall" flex comment above. After that he suggested a new clutch and throwout bearing, flywheel. His explanation was when metal gets hot it expands and thats why you get the clutch to function after warming up.

  • Thanks Brandon. I had adjusted the clutch pedal as the freeplay was over an inch. The master cylinder adjustment rod was down to the last couple of threads after the adjustment and I think the freeplay is under an inch now but unfortunately the car's behavior did not change.
    – user11128
    Oct 19, 2015 at 4:00

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