Ranger difficult to shift when engine running - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


Drivetrain Tech General discussion of drivetrain for the Ford Ranger.

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Old 08-28-2015
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Ranger difficult to shift when engine running

New user here and registered for this issue. My 04 ranger 4.0 4x4 xlt suddenly is very difficult to shift when engine is on and not moving (from stop). I can shift when moving down the road. Gears aren't grinding but hard to put in gear. When engine off, I can shift no problem. Clutch feels same. Took it into a shop for oil change and they said I need entire new clutch kit and with install fees it's $1k. This is also th type of shop that says $20 for wiper blades and $20 for cabin airlifted type. Also to check transmission fluid because it's "a difficult process" charges $20 too. So needless to say I don't trust that I need a new clutch. Any ideas?
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Old 08-28-2015
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You don't need a new clutch, but you may need clutch work, and if it has been awhile since the last clutch disc was changed then it is best to do it when transmission is out of the way.

What you describe is the clutch disc rubbing on the flywheel and/or pressure plate when clutch pedal is down all the way.

The flywheel and the pressure plate are the bread, the clutch disc is the meat in this sandwich setup.
When you push the clutch pedal down the Slave cylinder inside the bellhousing expands towards the pressure plate, and pushes in its springs, this releases the pressure holding clutch disc against flywheel, the farther the Slave expands the more pressure is release.

If Slave doesn't expand enough then there is still some pressure on the clutch disc so it continues to spin.

Transmission output shaft is always connected to the rear wheels, so transmission output shaft will always be turning at the same speed as the rear wheels.

The clutch disc is always connected to the transmissions input shaft.

To shift gears you have to match the output shaft RPMs to the INPUT shafts RPMs, in that gears ratio.

So if the output shaft RPM is 0, rear tires are not turning, then the INPUT shaft must go to 0 RPMs to shift into gear.
If engine is idling at 700rpms and clutch pedal is out because you are in Neutral, then when you push in the clutch pedal the clutch disc must go from 700rpm down to 0rpm before trans will go into gear.
If flywheel or pressure plate is rubbing clutch disc then it becomes very hard for the 4" synchromesh gear to slow down the 10" clutch disc to 0rpms

When you are moving matching input shaft to output shaft rpm is easier.

Hydraulic clutch system works by taking the volume of fluid in the Master cylinder and transferring that to the Slave, hydraulic fluid is used because it has a very low compression ratio, air has a high compression ratio, it air gets into a hydraulic system, then you loose full volume transfer, because the air compresses and doesn't transfer as much fluid.
So if slave should expand 1" and it only expands 3/4", clutch disc rubs and it is hard to shift.

You can bleed the system, it is hard to do but that could be your only problem.
Slave cylinder is where you start bleeding, then Master if that doesn't fix it.

Check the clutch fluid reservoir in the engine compartment, if it is low you could have a leak in the slave and that also allows air to be sucked in when you release the clutch pedal, bleeding won't fix the leak but will make shifting easier......for awhile.

Google: Ford Ranger Clutch bleeding


Just FYI, when a clutch disc is worn out it will be very very easy to shift, it will be very very hard to "go", the disc is too thin and pressure plate can not put as much pressure on it so it slips on the flywheel.

$700-$1,100 is the price for a shop to replace all the clutch parts, the bulk of the cost is the labor to pull transmission and then put it back in.
Actual clutch parts are $150-$250 for self-adjusting pressure plate and slave kit which is what you want

Last edited by RonD; 08-28-2015 at 09:47 PM.
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  #3  
Old 08-29-2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonD View Post
You don't need a new clutch, but you may need clutch work, and if it has been awhile since the last clutch disc was changed then it is best to do it when transmission is out of the way.

What you describe is the clutch disc rubbing on the flywheel and/or pressure plate when clutch pedal is down all the way.

The flywheel and the pressure plate are the bread, the clutch disc is the meat in this sandwich setup.
When you push the clutch pedal down the Slave cylinder inside the bellhousing expands towards the pressure plate, and pushes in its springs, this releases the pressure holding clutch disc against flywheel, the farther the Slave expands the more pressure is release.

If Slave doesn't expand enough then there is still some pressure on the clutch disc so it continues to spin.

Transmission output shaft is always connected to the rear wheels, so transmission output shaft will always be turning at the same speed as the rear wheels.

The clutch disc is always connected to the transmissions input shaft.

To shift gears you have to match the output shaft RPMs to the INPUT shafts RPMs, in that gears ratio.

So if the output shaft RPM is 0, rear tires are not turning, then the INPUT shaft must go to 0 RPMs to shift into gear.
If engine is idling at 700rpms and clutch pedal is out because you are in Neutral, then when you push in the clutch pedal the clutch disc must go from 700rpm down to 0rpm before trans will go into gear.
If flywheel or pressure plate is rubbing clutch disc then it becomes very hard for the 4" synchromesh gear to slow down the 10" clutch disc to 0rpms

When you are moving matching input shaft to output shaft rpm is easier.

Hydraulic clutch system works by taking the volume of fluid in the Master cylinder and transferring that to the Slave, hydraulic fluid is used because it has a very low compression ratio, air has a high compression ratio, it air gets into a hydraulic system, then you loose full volume transfer, because the air compresses and doesn't transfer as much fluid.
So if slave should expand 1" and it only expands 3/4", clutch disc rubs and it is hard to shift.

You can bleed the system, it is hard to do but that could be your only problem.
Slave cylinder is where you start bleeding, then Master if that doesn't fix it.

Check the clutch fluid reservoir in the engine compartment, if it is low you could have a leak in the slave and that also allows air to be sucked in when you release the clutch pedal, bleeding won't fix the leak but will make shifting easier......for awhile.

Google: Ford Ranger Clutch bleeding


Just FYI, when a clutch disc is worn out it will be very very easy to shift, it will be very very hard to "go", the disc is too thin and pressure plate can not put as much pressure on it so it slips on the flywheel.

$700-$1,100 is the price for a shop to replace all the clutch parts, the bulk of the cost is the labor to pull transmission and then put it back in.
Actual clutch parts are $150-$250 for self-adjusting pressure plate and slave kit which is what you want

Wow that is very detailed and above my knowledge honestly.
I checked the fluid level, and when I took off the cap abs removed what appears to be a diaphram, it was full. So what do you recommend I repair? Is this something I can do on my own or should I have a shop repair it? Thank you so much
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Old 08-29-2015
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You need to bleed the system, quite a few videos on how to do that.

Also check the clutch pedal itself for play, at the top of the pedal arm there are bushings the pedal pivots on, if these wear out or retaining clip comes off the pedal travel is less and so slave doesn't fully expand.
The pedal will feel loose, so no looseness then no problem there.


Engine----(Clutch)---Transmission------drives shaft-----axle/rear wheels

Clutch
(flywheel--clutch disc---Pressure plate)

Flywheel and pressure plate are bolted to the engine so always spin at engine RPMs
Clutch disc is in between these two parts and connected to the rear wheels via the transmission.

Separating the flywheel/pressure plate from clutch disc is the only way to disconnect engine RPMs from Rear wheel RPMs

When you shut off the engine it's RPMs are 0 and rear wheels RPM is 0 so it is easy to shift.

What you can do now, when driving, is to shift into 1st BEFORE the truck stops rolling.
With clutch pedal in, try shifting into 3rd and then to 1st, 3rd gives you better ratio to slow the rubbing clutch disc down a bit before shifting to 1st, and if rear wheels are still turning then rubbing clutch disc doesn't have to get to 0 RPMs just by using the 4" synchro-gear.
But yes..........you have to hold the clutch pedal in while at the stop light, if you shift into Neutral and let the clutch out the clutch disc is spinning at 700 rpms again so hard to get it back to 0 rpms like the rear wheels.

Ultimately if you don't feel comfortable doing the work yourself, you need to find a shop/mechanic that you can trust, and than means asking around, or looking at reviews of the shop on-line.
A good shop will charge enough to stay in business and not too much to loose business, so call around to see what clutch replacement is going for in your town, include local Ford Dealer in that call list.
You don't have to go into detail of your current problem, just how much to replace clutch, parts and labor.
Parts are: pilot bearing, Slave w/throwout bearing, self-adjusting pressure plate, clutch disc.
Resurface of flywheel if needed.......this is a judgement call, but find out before work starts how much this would add

Last edited by RonD; 08-29-2015 at 01:38 PM.
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  #5  
Old 09-18-2015
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: collingwood, ontario
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one thing you could try is to use synthetic mobil 1 synthetic automatic transmission oil. worked to help shifting in a 2002 mazda pickup i used to have.
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