I just had the clutch replaced in my 98 civic ex.

First thing I noticed is that the engagement either grabs or doesn’t, if that makes sense. I’m used to being able to “ride the clutch” a bit to get the car rolling smoothly, but now it just catches so it’s a little harder to engage smoothly.

  • Is that how a new clutch acts until it’s been driven a while? Never had a “new” clutch

Also before the new clutch the pedal play was about 1/2”. Now it seems the mechanic adjusted it so there’s a good 2” of free play before the rod actually starts pushing on the master cylinder.

I tried adjusting it back to 1/2” but it makes the engagement way at the top.

  • Is this normal for a new clutch to increase free play so the engagement is about half way of pedal travel?

1 Answer 1


There is a break in period for a new clutch. This equates to about 500 miles of city driving. It has to be city driving because you're not actually doing what the clutch needs to have happen if you are driving down the highway. Once the clutch is thoroughly broken in, you should notice the engagement to be better. The only way this might not happen is if the type of clutch put into the car is of a performance type. These are made to grab and hold hard, so would probably continue to feel the way it is now.

All clutches are different in how they engage. If the clutch you are used to was OEM Honda and the new one is an aftermarket clutch, there is a high probability it is going to feel and engage differently. Whether or not the engagement is completely out of whack to what your used to is anyone's guess. As long as your engagement point is ~1/2 down (or up, depending on how you look at it) the pedal travel, I don't think I'd worry about it too much. It would just be something you'd need to get used to.

  • Thanks for that. So after the break in period the engagement should feel smoother? I noticed that to engage/disengage only about an inch of actual hydraulic travel is needed, where as with my old clutch it was a bigger range of travel from where it would start to catch to fully engaged. I’m guessing this is why the mechanic maxed out the pedal free play so it engaged about half way?
    – user58423
    Mar 12, 2021 at 1:24
  • @user58423 - It might feel better. There's a lot of ifs going around, but chances are the clutch will feel better after it's completely broke in. Mar 12, 2021 at 1:27
  • Sounds good. Would the pedal free play need to be re-adjusted once broken in and engagement changes?
    – user58423
    Mar 12, 2021 at 1:32
  • @user58423 - From your description, it might. You won't know until it happens. Thing is, I'm surprised there's any adjustment to the clutch pedal on your Civic ... I don't ever remember there being any. I thought they were self-adjusting. I know the 2003 I used to own was (they are different generations of Civic, so could be different). Mar 12, 2021 at 1:37
  • So the rod that connects the master cylinder to the pedal couldn’t be adjusted on your 2003?
    – user58423
    Mar 12, 2021 at 2:01

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