Hello I recently replaced the clutch and master cylinders in my 98 Honda Civic with 192k original miles on the clutch.

After setting the pedal free play to 12mm (per service manual specs) I noticed it has a hard time engaging gears especially first.

If I decrease the free play to roughly (what feels like) 5mm it shifts very smoothly and the pedal has a nice firm feel to it.

I drove around till it was warm to make sure the release bearing wasn’t resting on the pressure plate and causing slipping.

All seems good, but I’m worried that maybe it’s barely riding the pressure plate at this setting? If it was would there be any indication like noise or anything?

Thoughts on why it shifts better with little free play?

  • Check for the dumb solution - something (like a car mat!) stopping the clutch pedal from going right down to the floor.
    – alephzero
    Jan 16, 2021 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


Sometimes there is confusion between pedal free play and free pedal travel. The pedal free play for your civic should be 1 to 3 mm. This is to assure that the pedal is not putting pressure on the master cylinder. The pedal free travel is the distance the pedal must go down before the throwout bearing touches the clutch release toungues. This is to allow the driver to just put his foot on the clutch without causing it to slip. If you are adjusting the free pedal play, take it down to 2mm.


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