93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - CH
Anyone out there have any idea what my problem might be? It's a 1993 Mk3 Astra 'Cesaro' 1.4MPI. It's done 128,000 miles(!) but still drives exceptionally well. It's still on its original clutch. There is no sign of any clutch slip, but it's become difficult to engage 1st and 2nd gears when moving. When stationary (with or without the engine running) all gears engage without difficulty. When drivng however, the symptom appears. Strangely, once the engine has warmed up the fault gradually gets much less severe, but doesn't disappear entirely. Is it the clutch, or the gearbox? Any ideas would be gratefully received!!
93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - Number_Cruncher
Its probably worn synchromesh cones which probably aren't worth doing. It's probably worth changing the gearbox oil, and learning about double declutching to reduce the work being done by the synchros.

93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - Victorbox
I think the 1.4 Mk3 Cavalier had the same engine & box. In my case it was a worn gear linkage or a linkage in need of re-aligning. I think principle is the same for most of these VX boxes as here, but a Haynes manual will confirm. www.cavweb-forums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=104211

I got away with just using spray grease on the gearbox rod linkages in the engine bay.
93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - Lud
NC may well be right. Knackered synchromesh is common in high-mileage cars after all.

Don't forget though that double-declutching, even when done correctly, doubles the amount of wear on the cable or hydraulic disengagement mechanism, both of which can fail. Unless the synchro has gone completely, which apparently it hasn't in this case, a more leisurely timing of gearchanges will probably work and prevent gear crunches. You can 'feel' the lever through neutral in a sort of rhythmic double pull or push.

In mechanically quiet cars, it is sometimes possible to hear the synchromesh working as one changes gear. I did sometimes in my Renault 18.

Edited by Lud on 11/03/2009 at 15:06

93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - Number_Cruncher
>>NC may well be right

The temperature dependence is the vital clue.

93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - doctorchris
I would second the suggestion by NC to change the gearbox oil.
On most modern cars the service schedule does not mention changing this oil but I do believe that on high mileage cars its lubricant properties deteriorate.
I've seen a transformation in smoothness of gear changes after doing this.
Of course, it is possible that the gearbox oil level is low. That could also cause problems.
93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - CH
Many thanks to all for for taking the trouble to reply. Very much appreciated! I'll try the simplest suggestion 1st i.e. grease spray of gear linkage in engine bay, and I'll also change the gearbox oil (after all it's been in there for 128,000 miles/15 years, so despite GM's advice it must have degraded). No drain plug though - looks as if I'll have to get a new gasket for the diff cover as it seems that's the only way to access the bottom! Will let you all know how it goes. Again, many thanks for all the advice. This is a great site.
93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - Number_Cruncher
>>new gasket for the diff cover as it seems that's the only way to access the bottom

You'll also need an end cover and gearbox endplate gasket as the pan under the differential does not drain all the oil out - the gearbox effectively has 2 oil levels, one for the gearset, and one for the diff. As the gearbox is filled from empty, the gearset volume is filled, and oil then overflows into the diff casing, where the level plug is located.

93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - CH
Nothing's easy, is it? Thanks for that NC - 'visiting my friendly Vauxhall garage termorrer for gaskets.

Edited by Webmaster on 11/03/2009 at 23:51

93 1.4 Clutch or gearbox??? - CH
Linkage greased. Gearbox/transmission oil changed. There is a noticeable improvement engaging 1st and 2nd gears!!! While I was underneath I removed the steel plate beneath the bellhousing (which I am led to believe is for clutch access). It doesn't expose the clutch plate, and there is no way I can see that you could replace the clutch through this very narrow aperture between the bell-housing and the engine sump! The 'plate' on this car is quite narrow in profile and bolts on to the bell-housing alone, i.e. it doesn't extend to the engine block. Looks like a gearbox-out job on this model, if I ever decide to do the clutch(?). I mention this cos somewhere on this forum someone wrote that if you have a plate underneath, then you can replace a clutch with everything in situ!