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Q: it seems I cant get the car to shift, with the motor on. on 2002 BMW Z8

the clutch pedal has play in it and I cant get car in gear without shutting the engine. I did get it to shift when I finally got it to shift with engine off.
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If you can shift your car with the engine off but not while it is running, that is almost always a clutch problem, it could be the clutch itself or the clutch hydraulics.
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If the clutch pedal feels very low and squishy, you probably have a hydraulic leak. Next to the brake master cylinder there should be a smaller resorvoir. Check the fluid. If its empty, fill it and look for the leak. If its full, you've got bigger problems.
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