Shifting/clutch problems, manual tranny - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 03-16-2011
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Shifting/clutch problems, manual tranny

I have a 2003 2.3L Ranger 2WD manual tranny with about 90k miles. For the last 10-15k miles it would sometimes be very difficult to get in to gear with the clutch all the way in...but other times it would be fine. Usually when it didn't want to go in gear, I could rev the engine and it would go in. I have ruled out the slave cylinder because I am not losing fluid and if i hold the clutch pedal in for 10 minutes, the clutch doesn't engage again.

Now it is getting to the point where sometimes I will come to a stop with the clutch in and tranny in first and the engine will get pulled down about 300-400 rpms, then if I am on level ground and let off the break it will actually start creeping forward. If I rev the engine it will stop pulling forward. But it only does this sometimes. Maybe 10-15% of the time.

Do you think I have a problem with the clutch or plate or could it be air in the lines to the slave cylinder? I have read it is difficult to bleed these unless you take off the entire system and gravity bleed first.... Thanks.
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Old 03-18-2011
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i had a similar prob with my 90 ranger, turns out the master was bad...the best way to bleed is bench bleed. take the line off the slave, take the pushrod off the pedal, the bolts out of the master, and the fluid res. now try to hang the res. on something and stretch the line downward and tie it off with a piece of wire. tap the line a few times and take a phillips screwbriver and push the master in just about half an inch. do this several times. you should see air coming out the resevoir. after you do this till it gets really tough to push it in aven half an inch. then your lines should be bled. do not put any petroleum {gas, pow. steering fluid, ect.}in there, and if there has been in the past, it will mess up the seals in the master and youll have to replace it. thats what happened top me. i thought my slave was bad cause it wasnt releasing. replaced it and still no release. then i got a new master today and ta-da!! works like a charm. it sounds to me you either have air in the line or your master is goin out. try bleeding first then move on to the master if it dont work, and always shop around different part stores... when they say they are the cheapest, there are usually one cheaper at another store
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Old 03-18-2011
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a good video to watch also is youtube.com/perfectionclutch
this is a step mby step instruction vid that might help you out
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Old 03-21-2011
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Thanks for your suggestions. I watched the video however I have one question. When the entire reservoir, master, and line is off the truck and being bench bled, what keeps the fluid from running out of the hose on the bottom? Are you just trying to get the master bled, and then hook it back up and get the air out of the line that goes from the master to the slave with conventional bleeding? Thanks.
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Old 03-21-2011
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I took off the master cylinder and reservoir and did the bench bleeding. That was more of a job than I thought. Especially the clip that holds the master cylinder rod to the clutch pedal. Anyway I saw no sign of air in the lines. I hooked it back up and bled the slave cylinder and also so no air coming out there. I guess the next step is taking the transmission out and seeing if there is anything weird in there.
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Old 03-21-2011
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your both skipping over the problem. yes, bleeding the master was smart because its so easy to get to, but since that didn't work, I'm 110% sure your problem is the slave cylinder. nothing internally trans related.
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Old 03-22-2011
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Originally Posted by pcollins View Post
your both skipping over the problem. yes, bleeding the master was smart because its so easy to get to, but since that didn't work, I'm 110% sure your problem is the slave cylinder. nothing internally trans related.
actually that is the first thing I considered (before even posting). But the reason I didn't think it is the slave is that if it is the slave then I can only think of two failure modes. 1) it is leaking fluid or 2) it is bypassing fluid and isn't leaking it externally, but it is leaking past the piston. I see no evidence of fluid leaking out or the fluid level being low. Also, I have held the clutch down for 5 minutes, start the vehicle and then it goes in gear fine. If the slave is bad wouldn't it leak down in the 5 minutes and make it impossible to get in gear?

I was thinking possible a bad pilot bearing. But I guess it doesn't matter anyway because either way I have to take out the transmission and if I do that I will be replacing pilot, clutch, pressure plate, and slave.
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Old 03-22-2011
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The slave is really the only thing at this point that could cause that, i doubt your syncronizers are bad if your fluid is full. Ford has revised that slave cylinder 13 times, and its still the biggest issue on these trucks. I had a bad slave that literally leaked No fluid, it was all internal, you couldn't see the issue until i took the T/O bearing off the cylinder. And it had all the symptoms your describing perfectly. I drove it for a year thinking it cant be the slave, i finally broke down and changed it and its been shifting fine since (knock on wood).
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Old 03-22-2011
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Originally Posted by pcollins View Post
The slave is really the only thing at this point that could cause that, i doubt your syncronizers are bad if your fluid is full. Ford has revised that slave cylinder 13 times, and its still the biggest issue on these trucks. I had a bad slave that literally leaked No fluid, it was all internal, you couldn't see the issue until i took the T/O bearing off the cylinder. And it had all the symptoms your describing perfectly. I drove it for a year thinking it cant be the slave, i finally broke down and changed it and its been shifting fine since (knock on wood).
Thanks! You give me hope that I can fix it then. With ~90k I will still probably go ahead and replace the clutch while I am in there. Do most people just go back with the Ford clutch and slave? There is a place called "clutch city online" that has an OEM slave with the clutch and pressure plate for $245. They claim it is the same as what you would get from Ford.
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Old 03-31-2011
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I replaced the clutch plate, pressure plate, pilot bearing and slave last weekend and it has been fine ever since. The problem is that everything seemed to be in perfect condition. The clutch plate was fine, the pressure plate was fine, and so was the pilot and slave. Absolutely no leaking and nothing wrong. Yet it fixed the problem. Thankfully I fixed it when I did...this problem was probably destroying my synchros. The fluid had just been replaced 7000 miles ago and the fluid was dark and lots of fine black sludge looking stuff on the magnet.
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