What to Look for First if Your Car Will Not Move
It's a terrible feeling when you jump into the car with an urgent appointment ahead, only to find that for some reason it will not move. You're able to start it okay and the engine is turning, but when you put it into drive nothing happens. Before you start to panic, check to see if it's something relatively simple such as the clutch cable. These are normally fairly hard wearing items but can fail without any notice. What do you need to do first?
What's a Clutch Cable?
A clutch cable runs between the back of the pedal in the driver's compartment and the clutch itself and is fairly simple. You can check to see if it is working properly before you get a replacement.
How to Locate It
Using a conventional floor jack, lift the front of the car and put axle stands beneath the charity for safety. Have a look at the gearbox and you will clearly see the bottom end of the clutch cable, connected to the release lever by a nut. Loosen the nut.
Next, go to the interior of the car and try to push the clutch pedal down by hand. If the cable doesn't slide smoothly, then it's likely that there is an obstruction. It could be that the exterior portion of the cable has become kinked or damaged. In this case, it will need to be replaced.
Go back underneath the car to the gearbox and inspect the ends of the metal part of the actual cable, which is inside the outer sheath. Pull the metal component towards you if necessary to look at it more closely. If you find that any of the strands of the metal core are frayed or broken it's time to replace.
If you find that both of these tests pass then the cable is not at fault. You should reconnect it, but make some adjustments by slackening or tightening the nut at the gearbox release lever. This will enable you to adjust the amount of free play that the cable has within the outer sheath. It's possible that simply by making an adjustment here you will be able to overcome the problem.
Removing the Cable
If not, in order to remove the cable completely disconnect it from the gearbox and then go back inside the car. The front end of the cable is normally attached to the back of the clutch pedal itself by a simple "ball" on the end of the cable which secures to a slot in the pedal. It should be a simple task to slip it off its location, slide it inwards through the hole in the bodywork and take it to the parts shop.
What to Learn
When you do encounter a problem like this it's normally a sign that you need to schedule a complete overhaul of the engine and transmission system, just to be safe. Contact a local mechanic for more information.