How to bleed the clutch on a Ranger
Solution to a baffling Ford Ranger clutch bleeding problem
I have posted the following solution to a common problem, because it took me 3 days to figure it out and I have not seen a solution that worked or was described in detail on the internet, despite having looked for it.
We replaced the clutch, flywheel, slave cylinder, throw out bearing and pilot bearing in a 93 Ford Ranger. After it was back together, the transmission made a whining noise when idling in neutral or when driving in any gear. It sounded and acted as if there was side load to the bearing on the input shaft. Also the clutch did not disengage until the pedal was near the floor.
We bled it...Alot. No improvement. We bled it with the master cylinder removed from the firewall and inverted to get out any last air. No improvement.
We suspected a problem with the new parts, removed the transmission, checked everything and found no problems. Reinstalled it. This time it would grind before going into gear. We replaced the master cylinder and bled it. No improvement.
What finally worked (and solved the whining and the low pedal problem) was bleeding the clutch system in a very specific way.
We unbolted the master cylinder from the firewall and tilted it so any trapped air could go up out of it. We used a prybar to compress the slave cylinder and wedged it with a something to keep it compressed. (That keeps space for air in there to a minimum). The slave cylinder is INSIDE the bellhousing, but there are large openings in the bellhousing, so a prybar can be slipped between the throwout bearing and the pressure plate. We unhooked the reservoir and put the hose coming up out of the master cylinder into a clean container. We ran brake fluid backwards through the system under pressure (to create some speed to the fluid movement, which carries air better than slow fliud) using a homemade device.
When we did it, it forced air UP out of the system that never came out when we tried to bleed it the conventional way. A surprising amount of air was trapped somewhere in there that no amount of bleeding had removed. After bleeding like that, the pedal began to disengage the clutch after depressing about 2 inches...like it should.
The homemade device I build works exactly like a water pipe for tobacco or whatever/hookah, but instead of drawing air (smoke) through it, you blow through it with compressed air, driving fluid out of it (and backwards through the system).
I used a clean plastic bottle filled half way with clean brake fluid and stopped with a rubber stopper. the stopper had 2 holes drilled through it with 2 hard plastic tubes inserted thought the holes. (I had acrylic tubes, but two dead bic pens should work). Stoppers are available at Lowes or Home Depot. I attached a flexible tube to the bottom of one of the 2 tubes in the stopper and made it long enough to reach the bottom of the bottle (and dipping into the brake fluid). Then I attached 2 flexible tubes to the tubes coming out of the top of the stopper. Blowing compresed air into one tube will force clean brake fluid out of the other tube. Attach the tube with the fluid to the bleeder nipple on the slave cylinder and open the bleeder nipple to allow the fluid to flow. Put compressed air in the tube and it will drive fluid backwards through the system. It carried out a lot of trapped air up and out of the top. I had the fluid (and air) coming out the top of the master cylinder empty into a clean container, because it would overflow the reservoir and make a mess. I needed to affix the stopper to the top of the bottle firmly with zip ties to keep from popping it off.
It is absurd that i had to do any of these things get it bled, but I had tried each of the things separately (having read about them on the internet) and in some combinations with no success. It was not until I did ALL of them at once that it finally worked.
Good luck , all.