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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #1
I've been reading this forum a couple years off and on and now I need to ask for help. I read a bunch of threads on this already with some great info but my problem still exists.

It's a weird one. I had a shop replace the starter. After that, I can't shift it. I drove it home bangin gears and went on a couple short drives. I have had to shut the truck off to get it in gear then start again. I can shift if I match RPMs to vehicle speed for the gear I want, but that's about it.

I tried bleeding the clutch hydraulics but it didn't help. I was convinced this was the problem though, and the line was rusty and the master and slave didn't look great. So I replaced all of it including the line. I took great care to hook everything up with no air when I did it. I pre-filled the slave vertically. When the line was in the vehicle but not attached, I filled it from the bottom using a hose and a funnel under the hood until it came out the top. I didn't have a way to pre-fill the master so I connected it dry. I used the old cap to rig up a vacuum and got a small amount of air out of it this way.

The pedal feels fine, and I can see the slave piston moves about 1 inch when the pedal is pressed.

Yet, I can't get it into any gear when I start it up. If shifts fine when off. I checked the fluid level in the transmission and it's filled up to the top. I am considering replacing fluid anyway because I don't know when that was last done or what's in it. I think I will use the Valvoline MTF.

I'm wondering if the shop might have dropped the tranny or otherwise disconnected the hydraulics in order to get to the starter motor which might be why I started having this problem.

Any other ideas?
 

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time to get cereal
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3,371 Posts
I would take it back up to the shop that did the work and demand they fix it. I wouldn't even have left the parking lot.
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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102 Posts
Shouldn't have to mess with the hydraulics to change a starter. The throw out bearing could be out of place on the fork, but that doesn't just happen without them messing around with it. A dry or seized pilot bearing could cause this, but that would be coincidental. A warped clutch disc or collapsed pressure plate will also cause this. Maybe the shop tech didn't know how to drive a manual?
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah the starter on this truck is right above the clutch slave cylinder and it's tight in there. I don't know if they removed the slave or removed the tranny to get at the starter, I'm just guessing. The shop did complain about the rust on my truck when they were doing the starter. So maybe they had to do something different than normal.

@Briglicon What was your comment about the shop tech not knowing how to drive a manual? You think they could have broke something in moving the vehicle in and out of the shop, like jamming it in gear or something?

If the clutch or pressure plate is messed up or broken, it was either bound to happen and is a weird coincidence, or they did remove the tranny and did something wrong or broke something when putting it back.
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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102 Posts
Yeah the starter on this truck is right above the clutch slave cylinder and it's tight in there. I don't know if they removed the slave or removed the tranny to get at the starter, I'm just guessing. The shop did complain about the rust on my truck when they were doing the starter. So maybe they had to do something different than normal.

@Briglicon What was your comment about the shop tech not knowing how to drive a manual? You think they could have broke something in moving the vehicle in and out of the shop, like jamming it in gear or something?

If the clutch or pressure plate is messed up or broken, it was either bound to happen and is a weird coincidence, or they did remove the tranny and did something wrong or broke something when putting it back.
I was wondering if they warped the clutch disc. Lol! If that starter is above the slave (I was thinking the slave was on the lower left side) then there is a chance that they pulled it off and let the throw out fork come out of place on the bearing. I had this happen once on a T5 in a Camaro. It made the clutch feel fine, but could not fully disengage. Does yours have that big plug with a 15mm head you can remove by the slave to inspect it?
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #6
OK very interesting that you have had this happen before! My pedal does feel pretty normal.

Does yours have that big plug with a 15mm head you can remove by the slave to inspect it?
I think I know what you mean, and I guess it did at one time... there is no official plug in there, but there is a hole that someone stuffed a chunk of rubber into to keep water out. It's threaded and the threads are messed up.

From there I can see the slave piston pushing on the lever arm. I don't think I can see further than that (should I be able to?). What would I be looking for in that area?

341343
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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You could take the slave off and shine a light in to see if maybe the fork isn't sitting on the throw out bearing correctly. Maybe try wiggling it to see if something isn't in its place. And yes, at one time there was a threaded plug there.
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #8
I took a look in there, and can't really see much. I can see beyond the lever arm of the fork but can't see much, and can't make sense of what I see. If I had a good vehicle to compare with it would make more sense I think. Or even a detailed exploded drawing but I haven't found one yet.

I had my wife push on the pedal with me under the vehicle, and I can barely see some stuff in the distance moving a little bit. The bigger parts in the foreground (past the lever arm) don't seem to move at all. But I can't tell what I'm really looking at. And I bet this description of what I saw is even less useful :D

Thanks for the help! I think it'll probably go back to the shop cause I don't have the time to mess with the tranny and clutch (AKA my wife doesn't have the patience for me to do that).
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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I fully understand! Lol! It's probably something minor that just needs to be put back in place. Hopefully the guys that worked on it will be cool about putting it back how it was, and hopefully won't require the teams to be pulled to do it. Let me know how it develops.
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #10
The shop says it is missing the plastic cap over the end of the slave cylinder rod, that pushes on the fork. They say they ordered one from Chevy. Some of the stuff I read including install instructions mentioned this plastic cap which is held in place by the shipping straps, and they say be sure not to lose it.

Well, the slave I removed didn't have a cap on it (shipping straps were missing as well). The new part I received didn't come with the cap, just the shipping straps. Looking at Rockauto pictures, none of the slave cylinders have this plastic cap on them. It doesn't appear to be available as a separate part either.

Do you know if the cap is actually required? Maybe these parts got redesigned with longer rods and without the caps?
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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The shop says it is missing the plastic cap over the end of the slave cylinder rod, that pushes on the fork. They say they ordered one from Chevy. Some of the stuff I read including install instructions mentioned this plastic cap which is held in place by the shipping straps, and they say be sure not to lose it.

Well, the slave I removed didn't have a cap on it (shipping straps were missing as well). The new part I received didn't come with the cap, just the shipping straps. Looking at Rockauto pictures, none of the slave cylinders have this plastic cap on them. It doesn't appear to be available as a separate part either.

Do you know if the cap is actually required? Maybe these parts got redesigned with longer rods and without the caps?
Yeah, you need that cap. Usually it's bonded to the rod and quite hard to remove. Having it on there would take up some slack and probably get you a little further pedal throw. That would probably solve your issue. It looks like the new slaves just come with a longer rod and no plastic, so that could also be your fix. Does your slave have a groove on it where the shipping straps originally were or is it smooth where it originally had the plastic cap? (shipping straps were attached to the cap)
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #12
Hey thanks for the fast responses! Seems like you really know what you are talking about here, you must have done this at least a few times I'm gussing.

The funny thing is, other than the Haynes manual, I can't find any mention of the plastic cap anywhere. Couldn't find any discussion on this forum. Can't find any pictures of it on the web. Can't find a part number for it to buy as a separate item. All the slave cylinders on Rockauto are pictured and don't have it. This is the one I bought and installed a couple weeks ago:

341556


I thought my old one was missing the cap because the Haynes manual says it should be there. But when I got my new one, with no cap, it looked the same as the old one. They aren't smooth, they have a "shoulder" on them where that plastic ring of the shipping straps sits. So I'm not thinking I need the cap with the slave cylinder I've got.

In fact, the shop called me today and said they can't order it from Chevy anyway. So they say they made something to fit in there instead of the cap. But (this is where it gets weird) now they are saying the clip that holds the master rod to the clutch pedal is broken! It was brand new when I installed it, it popped in real easy.

I'm wondering if they added some extra length to the slave rod (that shouldn't be there), then pushed on the clutch pedal, and because of the extra length they added, the fork or the clutch bottomed out before the pedal did, they kept pushing on the pedal to engage the starting switch and broke the next weakest link - the clip that holds the master rod to the pedal.

I would really like to see pictures of this cap installed on a slave, or by itself, or anyone currently selling slave cylinders with plastic caps on them, because they don't seem to exist as far as I can tell.
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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At this point, I would get those guys to pull the trans and see wtf they did or what happened. It seems like they are making more and more of a mess by screwing around. Or maybe pick a different shop or an actual trans shop. The plastic cap is something I've seen on older vehicles, and like I said, it's pretty well permanently affixed to the rod. If it didn't have one, it is what it is. It's time for an actual inspection of the throw out and fork. I'm still guessing they dropped it and didn't get it back on the bearing properly. And yes, I've done this a few times, it's my profession!
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for getting back quick again Briglicon!

Well you might not believe this. After the runaround, they removed the cap/extender from the slave and put it back to normal. They replaced the clip on the clutch pedal to the master cylinder (not sure why it broke). They tell me the master wasn't properly mounted to the firewall! It does look like they were able to install it a bit further back than I had it. Not sure how. The one I removed was installed in same position as I installed the new one, which apparently was wrong. It felt solid so I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe an old flange/gasket was stuck to firewall. I can't imagine it was more than 1/8" or 1/4" difference.

It made a world of difference on the clutch. It's easy to shift now while the engine is running. The clutch pedal feels like a normal clutch I am used to driving, which it never did before, even during the past 4 years I owned the truck and was driving it normally (although the R always did grind a bit). I can't believe it.

The weird thing is the clutch pedal now sits higher than it did, it's higher than the brake pedal by like 4". I'm going to have to get used to it. It doesn't make sense that moving the master back by 1/4" max would make so much difference in pedal height.

They also told me my truck is so rusty they refuse to work on it again and I should just get rid of it! Hey, I still have floorboards, what's the problem? :ROFLMAO:

For people who find this thread later: IF YOU BLED THE CLUTCH CORRECTLY AND STILL HAVE PROBLEMS DISENGAGING THE CLUTCH, MAKE SURE THE MASTER IS FULLY INSTALLED AGAINST THE FIREWALL BEFORE YOU DROP THE TRANS OR PLAN TO REPLACE THE CLUTCH!
 

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1997 S10 5.3L
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1/4" is a lot. I still can't understand how changing the starter caused this, or how the problem ended up being your master cylinder installation after the fact. My guess would be that they found the problem, fixed it, and didn't want to fess up (especially telling you they didn't want to work on it anymore). Glad it's working again, tho.
 

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1994 GMC Sonoma SLS 4.3 TBI 5spd 4x4
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Discussion Starter #16
I agree 1/4 is a lot of hydraulic fluid to move at the master cylinder, that pushes more fluid and moves the slave more. I don't know if it was really 1/4 that's just a guess.

What is surprising is that my foot keeps hitting the side or bottom of the clutch pedal when I pick my foot up off the floor to get ready for a shift. It's like the pedal moved up an inch or more. Maybe due to the length of the clutch pedal arm, 1/4" at the cylinder means 1" at the pedal. Could be. I just didn't expect it, having driven the truck so long the other way.

Either they did something else and didn't tell me, like remove motor/tranny mounts and pry the engine to the side to get better access to the starter, and something moved inside. OR, it's just a complete fluke, I do recognize I was grinding reverse before the starter failed, so it may have just been coincidence that two things failed at the same time. Probably I've never had full clutch disengagement and the starter has had to work harder with the truck essentially in gear during starting.

Planning to drive over mountain pass tomorrow so we'll see if it works soon enough!
 

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94 4x4,01 Blazer
2001 Blazer 4dr 4wd LT
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1,100 Posts
check under the dash-pedal has an indexed rod- maybe in all the fooling around they moved it up on you,or bent something under the dash.
 
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