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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Clutch won't disengage

So long since I had to tinker - and it's hot - and I'm feeling stupid.

The clutch won't disengage: lovely crunching when I try to get into gear. But the reservoir is full, and when the pedal's pressed the rod moves about 3/8" - just as it should.

Haven't had the car out of the garage for a few months.

Aha! Coming indoors has cleared my head a little. It's been resting in the engaged position for a few months, and it's stuck together, isn't it?

I seem to recall a drastic and frightening remedy. What is it?

Sounds like the clutch driven plate could be stuck to the flywheel.
Could try putting rear axle firmly on axle stands - ensure nothing in front for a considerable distance and chock front wheels as well !

Start up in gear and depress clutch and then gently apply the brakes - may come free with a bit of a bang.

richard boobier

If you have room you can start in first with clutch depressed and throttle on/off to shake it loose. Needless to say you need to be confident in your ability to respond to an emergency during this process.

Worked fine for me on 2 occasions in 80s.

Anthony Cutler

If you have room in front place the car in 1st gear. Then with the clutch depressed and foot hard on the brake crank the starter. Use reverse gear if space is behind.
That is the first step if that does not work then drastic action will need to be taken. :)

This will only remedy the problem if the release mechanism is correctly adjusted and bled.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

Get the car really warm by running for 30 min. Depress clutch and wedge down using a piece of wood against the seat.Turn off engine and disappear for 12 hours. Return to car, clutch should be released - worked for me a few weeks ago. :)

C Martin

Im not a great fan of the "wedge the clutch pedal down and leave it" method, either to unstick a clutch or to assist with bleeding. Any weakness in the system, seals etc, will be highlighted as you are leaving the hydraulics pressurised for an extended period. If your system is well maintained then you should be ok, and obviously its good to identify any weak points, but be aware you could be returning the next day to a dripping master cylinder and the need for a rebuild.
S G Macfarlane

Thanks chaps. I'm trying the gentle method first - take the point about leaving the hydraulics pressurised, but I think I'd rather know if something's not up to scratch.

I was concerned about wedging the clutch down, for the very reasons mentioned, but figured it may be a better option than rebuilding the front of the car and the back of the garage.
I have promised my car I will start and move it more often during the winters.

C Martin

Well, it didn't unstick.

Next up will be a combination of the Cutler/Bob methods.

There's fifty yards of drive to play with, and all three daughters are staying this weekend: they can push me back up again if it hasn't worked.


Nick be sure that the hydraulics and rod are working correctly. As long as you are getting a bit of travel after it takes up the slack it should be fine.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

As long as the system is working correctly, full fluid and full movement etc, engine running, clutch pedal down and push it in to first, the clutch will free before you break the gearbox, have done it a number of times after standing
Alex Sturgeon

Anthony and Bob get the prize - which I'm afraid is only heartfelt thanks.

My neighbour watched with his mouth open as I kangarooed down the drive. But it came unstuck quite gently in the end.

Got a confession to make. It wasn't the Sprite. It was my MGA. But answers are friendlier and quicker here,

Thanks all.

If it was an MGA that would have been far easier LOL.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

>>Haven't had the car out of the garage for a few months.<< even less of an excuse for that sort of behavoir with an MGA - no road tax to hold back your year round driving - don't leave it so long next time :)
Nigel Atkins

Here's something we did to free an MGC clutch that had frozen.

This works best if you can make room underneath and I'd recommend a garage type lift. Cut a 2" (50 mm.) hole through the bell housing using a STARRETT style hole saw or similar. Cut the hole on the gearbox side of the bell housing so that you get access to the clutch plate retaining bolts. Loosen all the bolts ( do not take them out ) turning the engine to gain access so that you can slide a screwdriver blade through the gap and use it to free the clutch plate; do it for both sides of the driven plate..
When it's free retighten the retain bolts and see if it works! Repeat if it doesn't. Once it works devise a method to fill or cover the 2" hole. Such as holding the piece of removed bell housing with 3 or 4 self tapping screw at the edge in the saw gap , or an aluminium plate held with self tappers etc.
AG Martin

Or do as Nick has done?
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

This thread was discussed between 22/04/2011 and 26/04/2011

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