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2003 1500 3.7 manual: Clutch Issues?

Discussion in 'Engine & Performance' started by fmjnax, Nov 10, 2019 at 9:53 PM.

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  1. fmjnax

    fmjnax Junior Member

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    Location:
    Athens, TX
    Ram Year:
    2001
    Engine:
    3.7L V6
    My daughter has a manual 2003 1500 with the 3.7 V6. Yesterday she called me on her way to her grandparents house saying that her truck was shaking violently while shifting and had a rubber burning smell. I fully expected it to be her clutch. She is 17 years old and it's her first manual. I had her limp the last couple of miles and told her to have her grandmother bring her home. She has owned the truck for about a year. It has close to 188k miles on it and who knows when (or if) the clutch was last replaced. This morning I went to check it out for myself. Below is what I am aware of so far:

    - I didn't have the tools to check the tranny fluid on the spot since there isn't a dipstick, but I will do that tomorrow. We have never seen any puddles under the truck, though.

    - It has been decades since I have owned a manual, but the clutch feels soft. It goes to the floor quite easily. Not much sponge or resistance to it.

    - With the engine off, you can shift in/out of every gear without too much effort. Doesn't matter if clutch is in or out.

    - With the engine running at idle and the clutch depressed, you can shift in/out of every gear, but it's a bit tough. 1 and 2 require you to slam it pretty hard. 3-5 seems ok. For R it feels like you might break the shift lever trying to get it in from N. If you shift into 5 and then immediately slam down into R it will go and feel like 1 and 2. Of course, no shift happens without the clutch in (and no grinding if you try).

    - When you take off in 1, the truck shakes violently. Not just a shudder like it needs more gas, but a hard shake. If you launch with high rpm's and pop the clutch quickly, it's better.

    - When shifting from 1 to 2, the same violent shake occurs if you release the clutch slowly. If you work the clutch and shifter quickly then there's no problem. Quickly stomp the clutch to the floor and slam into gear and then release the clutch 100%, it shifts fine without any shake.

    - Three times during my test drive back home, the truck did not want to shift into 2 or 3 and it would grind. I'd have to reset to N, rev match, and slam it home. It only happened those three times over the course of the 30 mile drive, and one of the grinds occurred on 2. It initially shifted to 2 but them popped out and then I got the grind trying to put it back in.

    - Once you're in 3, it all seems to drive normally. No shaking, no grinding, smooth shifting, no smell.

    - Truck downshifts fine, aside from needing the extra "oomph" for 1 and 2 as noted above.

    - I never did smell anything odd during my drive back, so I think maybe my daughter was riding the clutch for some reason. I know she doesn't normally (or at least she never has while I have been in the truck with her).

    What do ya'll think? Does that sound like a worn clutch? If so, has anyone replaced one themselves? I tend to think of myself as an advanced backyard/shadetree mechanic, but transmission work is the one thing I have never done (I have completely rebuilt engines, for comparison). Is it possible for a very experienced DIY'er to do?

    Thanks!
     
  2. RoadRamblerNJ

    RoadRamblerNJ Senior Member

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    Clutch is where I'd start looking but, you could also have a bad throw out bearing and/or badly worn syncros inside the trans itself causing hard shifting effort.
    Keep in mind, it could be a combination of one or more of these. You're allowed to have multiple problems all at once. Ask me how I know. LOL.
     
  3. MikeT

    MikeT Member

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    I've had several throw-out bearings go out on me (not on a Mopar), every one of them has started by screeching very loudly upon depressing the clutch pedal, this doesn't sound like a throw-out bearing to me. The only time I've run into a shaking situation was when a universal joint in a drive shaft was in the process of giving up the ghost and then it would shake only on deceleration or acceleration - can't remember which but not both (this was well over 50 years ago). My recollection was that the shaking was not what I would call violent, but what defines an individual's definition of violent. I don't recall that I had any difficulty shifting at all, just the shaking.

    Mike
     
  4. fmjnax

    fmjnax Junior Member

    Age:
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    Location:
    Athens, TX
    Ram Year:
    2001
    Engine:
    3.7L V6
    I've had bearing and u-joints go out on me in the past, but it's been a while. I'm not entirely discounting either one, but I don't think that is what is happening. Today I took a good hour long drive down the backroads doing all sorts of tests. Low speed, high speed, low gear, high gear, starting, stopping, etc. Below are the latest findings:

    - I didn't have a 17mm Allen (and town is a 30 minute drive) so I couldn't check the tranny fluid today I see no telltales of any sort of leak, though.

    - Clutch master cylinder has good clean fluid and the level looks spot on.

    - Mounts all seem to be fine

    - Still no smell at all (I really think she had to have been riding the clutch and started to burn it up)

    - Never had the violent shake

    - R is still hard to get in to

    - 1 is still hard to get in to

    - 2 still gives fits. Twice out of the probably 100 shifts into 2 didn't want to catch and started grinding

    - 3-5 (and at highway speed) is perfectly fine. I noticed absolutely no issue in this range

    - Gears never slipped out once engaged

    - Engine speed might be a little slow to decrease after engaging the clutch, but I'm not certain how it was before the issue started so it may be normal

    - No odd sound that would indicate a bearing or u-joint going out. There is a faint "whir" when engaging the clutch, but I'm pretty sure I remember hearing that from day one.


    Based on what I have experienced, I'm learning towards the early signs of a worn out clutch. Still trying to determine if it is something I can dig into at home myself.
     

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