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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Son has a 2000 Xterra , 255,000 miles

When he comes to a stop light and tries to shift into first, the stickshift will get some resistance as if the syncho is worn.
However, there is a same problem with 2nd gear.

I told him I thought there was 1 synchonizer for each gear and the fact that 1st and 2nd have issues shifting smoothly into gear says it could be something else.

What is it like when the pressure plate is worn out or weak? how does it affect the shifting?
Or maybe the clutch plate is too thin?

any ideas?
 

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My Son has a 2000 Xterra , 255,000 miles

When he comes to a stop light and tries to shift into first, the stickshift will get some resistance as if the syncho is worn.
However, there is a same problem with 2nd gear.

I told him I thought there was 1 synchonizer for each gear and the fact that 1st and 2nd have issues shifting smoothly into gear says it could be something else.

What is it like when the pressure plate is worn out or weak? how does it affect the shifting?
Or maybe the clutch plate is too thin?

any ideas?
Sounds like the clutch plate is too thin [worn out] and it's not disengaging and causing shift issues. He'll be broke down on the side of road sometime soon.
 

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I would second the clutch being worn. Especially if it's still on the factory clutch.

I assume that the clutch fluid reservoir is full and that you have bled the clutch lines at some point. If not, this might be a good starting point. There is a bleed fitting down on the the clutch slave cylinder. The bleed process is the same as with brakes, but simpler in that there is only one line to bleed.

If he's driving up a steep hill does the RPM climb, but the vehicle doesn't speed up? If so... slipping clutch.

Do yo know what lube has been used to maintain the transmission? This manual transmission should only us GL4 lubricants (with some exceptions). GL5 lubricants are not backwards compatible and generally are not synchro friendly. There are a few that seem to be ok though. I have used Royal Purple in my 5 speed Frontier for about 15 years now with no problems. It is GL5, but Royal Purple claims it to be yellow metal friendly.

Each gear does have it's own synchronizer gear. What makes you doubt that the 1st and 2nd could wear out at the same time. Those are the two most shifted gears when you think about it. They're also two most abused from a teenager hard driving perspective.

1) I would check the transmission fluid level. Just unbolt the filler plug on the side while the truck is on a flat surface. The fluid should come just to the level of the hole. Note: If you plan to change the transmission fluid (or differential fluid) ALWAYS undo the fill plug first, before undoing the drain. Many home mechanics have been caught in the trap of draining the fluid only to find out that the fill plug is seized solid and won't come out. If you think you will need to change the clutch, leave changing the trans fluid for that time since draining makes the transmission easier to handle.

2) Flush the clutch fluid.

3) change out the clutch. I've seen a lot of posts on various sites claiming that the flywheel is dual mass. It was not on my 2000 Frontier. Dual mass flywheels are super expensive and can't be resurfaced. A solid flywheel replacement is cost effective and works great if you know how to shift. I went with a Clutch Max kit bought on Ebay last year. It went in great and has been functioning perfect. It doesn't have a ton of mile on it yet, but the price was also good at $130 for the disk, pressure plate, flywheel, and throwout bearing. I also did the rear main seal at that time.

If after all that, it still does it. Then it's probably the synchros. To remedy that I would consider rebuilding the transmission if you aren't comfortable with doing that particular job, I would consider looking for a JDM transmission.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We did bleed the hydraulics, but we have heard they are hard to bleed. We have had trouble last May. We finally got it on the 3rd-4th try ( after replacing the slave, Master, and flexible hose).
But now this was a sudden thing and my son thought maybe something happened and air got into the line. We did go around checking the connections and one connection was slightly loose where the flexible hose attaches to the metal tube near the slave. We tightened it and it was maybe a 20 degree turn. So we assumed air got in.

NOW, there is a hint in what blackberry said... IF you are SURE that the stick shift has trouble getting into first at a stand still then why is there a synchronizer in first gear?
I guess we can try bleeding it and use a vacuum pump.

FYI, this was a rebuilt transmission from about 3 years ago. My son is not a hard driver.
Another question... we are aware about the GL5 lubricant. How long does it typically take to wear out the brass parts? I would find it hard to believe it would do that in 2-3 years.
I would think 5 years might be true.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Looking back... when the engine is off, there is no problem getting the shiftstick into gear.
With engine running, the shifting is intermittent.

I will have to wait for my son to come back to my house and we can take a look at it again.

Just to confirm. there is enough fluid in the clutch master cylinder. and we also checked the transmission fluid and it was at the proper level.
We bled the clutch hydraulic line yesterday 3-4 times using a hand pump. and my son said it looks like bleeding made it worse.
The only thing when we started was to check all the connections of the hydraulic lines and everything was OK, except for the flexible hose that connected to the metal line near the slave cylinder.
We basically tightened it about 20 degrees more. when we saw this, we assumed air might have got in the line.
 

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Transmission fluid level should not affect this

You should be using your foot to bleed the clutch. Sometimes I just use gravity to start.

Properly bleeding a hydraulic system should never make things worse

20 degrees tightening doesn’t tell us everything. I’m sure you could put a giant wrench on it and turn it another 20 degrees

if fluid didn’t get out, air can’t get in

the color of the clutch fluid is important here. If the fluid appears brownish or the color of rust, there’s almost certainly a problem internally

It looks like blackberry mentioned earlier that this sounds like a hydraulics problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
We changed the master cylinder, slave cylinder and flexible hose last May, because the clutch pedal would go all they way to the floor.
After that everything was OK.

Until about a month ago. My son said about once a day he would have a bit of trouble pushing the stick into first gear.
I guess, I will need to wait til he comes over again and we can bleed it some more.

And as for the color of the fluid, it is basically a clear black. No brown or rust color. Just black, which we assume is the o-rings from the master or slave cylinders.
This kind of surprised us, because the brake fluid is older, but it is pretty clear.
The clutch fluid is clear black after just 6 months.

We used Dot 3 brake fluid for the clutch hydraulic fluid. If in case this make a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
On another note... I am thinking ahead...

This week, the weather will be warm. This Friday and next week, the weather will be 35-60 degrees.
If my son has intermittent issues this week, but then this weekend and next week the problem goes away, is that a sign the clutch pressure plate is weak of has a problem?

I would think cooler temperature would cause the springs to be tighter.

Again, I would think if the pressure plate is bad, then I would think there should be a problem with shifting into all gears and not just 1st and 2nd.
 

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We changed the master cylinder, slave cylinder and flexible hose last May, because the clutch pedal would go all they way to the floor.
After that everything was OK.

Until about a month ago. My son said about once a day he would have a bit of trouble pushing the stick into first gear.
I guess, I will need to wait til he comes over again and we can bleed it some more.

And as for the color of the fluid, it is basically a clear black. No brown or rust color. Just black, which we assume is the o-rings from the master or slave cylinders.
This kind of surprised us, because the brake fluid is older, but it is pretty clear.
The clutch fluid is clear black after just 6 months.

We used Dot 3 brake fluid for the clutch hydraulic fluid. If in case this make a difference.
Time to do something about the clear black fluid!
 

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I've noticed that in the past the fluid in my Frontier got dark pretty quickly. I installed a new master and slave when I redid the clutch, but have only put about 2k miles on it, so not sure if anything has changed yet. I usually go with DOT 4 in my brakes and clutch, which is probably overkill, but DOT3 should be fine I think.

Do you know when the clutch was last swapped?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I would think the clutch was swapped when the transmission was last worked on 2-3 years ago, but it could have been 5 on the previous time.
Last time ( 2-3 years) the synchronizer was bad. The first time ( 5 years ago), something exploded in the transmission and it was a complete overhaul.

Not sure if the clutch and pressure plate was replaced.
If anything, I woudl think 5 years ago for sure. But not sure about 2-3 years ago, since the paper simply says synchronizers were replaced.

As for the black fluid, we pretty much flushed everything out.
 

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If the synchros were previously replaced I would expect that they are still good unless he drives it like he stole it. I've been known to drive my Frontier pretty hard and the transmission is still going strong (knock on wood).

If the shop repair slip only says synchros then I wouldn't assume that the clutch was replaced at that time. They would typically itemize all of the parts. The lifespan of a clutch depends on a lot of factors.

Was the work done while you owned the vehicle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yea, we had the vehicle for 8 years. The original transmission was totally rebuilt 5-6 years ago. When my son was driving it, something exploded when he changed gears.
They rebuilt the transmission. ( I actually think they replaced whatever broke, plus anything else that looked bad). SO I would assume they probably replaced the clutch, etc.. also.
So the clutch/ pressure plate could be 5 years old.

The last time (March 2020) they just replaced the synchonizers.

I just wish there was a way to figure out whether the trouble is the synchonizers, the pressure plate/clutch plate, or something with the clutch hydraulics.

My son is leaning towards synchonizers. I am leaning towards pressure plate/clutch plate.
He is going to try driving it (carefully) a little this week while the weather is warm. The Friday and the next 7 days the temperatures will be 35- 60 degrees and see if anything changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I'll check with my son. He should reply in a few hours.
If I had to guess based on the MANY conversations we had last Saturday, the answer is yes.

We replaced the Master, Slave, and Flexible hose last May. The reason we did this was because the clutch pedal went 80% to the floor without any pressure ( almost like the freeplay was 6 inches) and the last 2 inches had pressure. He could still change gears just fine with the last 2 inches. We know the issue was in the line because the slave would not move until the last 2 inches of the pedal was almost to the floor. Also this "freeplay" was a sudden thing, like something failed instantly. You can look back to May 2022 in this forum and see the coversation about this issue.
After we replaced the items, we had a hard time bleeding the line, but we finally got it.
We could not bleed it using the pedal, so we had to use a manual vacuum pump.

If I remember right, my son said maybe the following month, maybe once a week there was an issue with shifting. Then it slowly got worse until last week, were it was almost a few times a day.

Again, I'll reply with the answer when my son texts back.
 

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I'll check with my son. He should reply in a few hours.
If I had to guess based on the MANY conversations we had last Saturday, the answer is yes.

We replaced the Master, Slave, and Flexible hose last May. The reason we did this was because the clutch pedal went 80% to the floor without any pressure ( almost like the freeplay was 6 inches) and the last 2 inches had pressure. He could still change gears just fine with the last 2 inches. We know the issue was in the line because the slave would not move until the last 2 inches of the pedal was almost to the floor. Also this "freeplay" was a sudden thing, like something failed instantly. You can look back to May 2022 in this forum and see the coversation about this issue.
After we replaced the items, we had a hard time bleeding the line, but we finally got it.
We could not bleed it using the pedal, so we had to use a manual vacuum pump.

If I remember right, my son said maybe the following month, maybe once a week there was an issue with shifting. Then it slowly got worse until last week, were it was almost a few times a day.

Again, I'll reply with the answer when my son texts back.
Are you able to bleed the system using the pedal now?
 

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It's possible that the connecting rod from the pedal to the master cylinder was not adjusted correctly when it was installed. IF it was installed so that it constantly applies a little pressure to the master it could cause the clutch to slip slightly. Did you install the unit yourselves or was it done by a mechanic? If memory serves me you basically want it adjusted just beyond the point so that it does not put any pressure on the master cylinder (just slightly loose) when the pedal isn't pressed. The procedure is listed in the Factory Service Manual and it's pretty simple. You can download that here:


Download all of the pdf files for your vehicle to a single folder. Then open the IDX pdf using adobe acrobat reader (not a web browser). Then look up the item you're looking for and click on it. Adobe Acrobat Reader will open the correct pdf file to the section that you need. This nifty little trick doesn't work when it's opened with a browser.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
last May we adjusted the rod/pedal last May when we replaced everything. The adjusment was adjusted so there was a 1 inch free play.

As for using the pedal to bleed the line, we didn't do that. Last May we could not, so we used a vacuum pump by hand.
We used the vacuum pump by hand last Saturday.

OK, I just now read the FSM manual that was posted above about the adjustment and the bleeding.
Next time my son comes over, we can adjust everything to spec, then try bleeding it the way the manual describes.
 
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