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Q: hard to shift into gear

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earlier this week it was getting more difficult to shift gears. no grinding, just felt like clutch wasn't engaging/disengaging. clutch feels a little spongy. when pushed to the floor it comes back up on its own. we checked the fluid yesterday and it was low, both in the master cylinder reservoir and brake fluid reservoir, so we filled them up. it was easier to shift into gear last night and for a few hours this morning. after a little while it went back to shifting hard again. fluid levels are still good. we didn't "bench bleed" because we have to take the master cylinder off to do so (according to a few different websites) to get it at a proper angle to release all the air. before I go buy parts I was wondering what input or advice you could give me. thank you!

My car has 170000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Hi there. From the description you have provided, your clutch felt like it wasn’t engaging/disengaging, the pedal feels a little spongy, could be the beginning stages of component failure. There should be no reason to bench bleed the clutch master cylinder unless, the reservoir was so low, air was introduced into the clutch master cylinder. Typically, that would indicate a leak in the system. It could be, the clutch master cylinder is no longer supplying sufficient hydraulic pressure to the clutch slave cylinder. It could be, the clutch slave cylinder is not moving the clutch throw-out arm far enough to disengage the clutch. It could be, the clutch pressure plate is not releasing the clutch disc. It could be, the transmission input shaft is sticking to the pilot bearing and not slowing between shifts. I recommend having your vehicle’s clutch be diagnosed and repaired by a certified technician, such as one from YourMechanic.

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