99 Ex manual trans not going into gear. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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99 Ex manual trans not going into gear.


Elite Explorer
February 19, 2006
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
1994 XLT,
Last Friday I decided to take the explorer to Cheyenne when I had dr appointments. She ran great all the way over. running about 75-80. Once I got off the interstate everything seemed good. until down shifting at a light. She wouldn't go into 2nd. the clutch peddle was on the floor but no. I was able to get it into 1st. shifted into 2 just fine.

Went to my appointment. about 1 1/2 hours later no problem drove her about 5 miles made a stop. Once I came out. I couldn't get her into reverse. no matter how hard wouldn't go into gear. Finally had to shut it off and start it in reverse. The truck lurched a little like the clutch as slightly engaged. Once backing out she ran fine until stopping had to struggle to get it into 1st. Acted up some after another stop. then headed home. no problems on the interstate again. but once getting off she was hard to shift.

I stopped and checked the clutch reservoir it was full. May son has had the same problems with his 91Ex was low fluid. Leaky slave.

Any ideas what it could be? Bad master, bad slave? I am getting no leaks.


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1st and reverse problems suggest air in the system. This could be from a break in a line, seal, or connection in the master or slave itself. In other words, something needs replaced.

I fought and fought this same issue for a while, and finally just dropped the trans, replaced the slave, clutch, plate, and bought a pre bled master with new reservoir included. Rebuilt the shifter while it was out, and all was well again.
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She can go from hard as hell to put it into gear to smooth. last for a week or longer then acts up again. Going to take it in soon to see what it is.


Master or slave clutch cylinder issue. Just because the reservoir is full doesn't mean there's not an internal fluid leak. It's difficult to get into gear and lurching because your clutch is not disengaging.


A few questions so as to to help me help you - so just askin' ;)

Miles on your 99 ex?

How long/miles have you owned it?

Are you aware of any previous owner having serviced the transmission/hydraulic system?

During your ownership, has the manual transmission ever been drained, drain magnet cleaned, and Automatic Transmission Fluid replaced (Yes, it takes ATF)?

During your ownership, has the Clutch Master Cylinder ever been replaced?

During your ownership, has the Clutch Slave Cylinder/clutch assemebly ever been replaced?

During your ownership, have you ever replaced the clutch fluid (which is brake fluid (glycol based) AND thus hydroscopic = attracts & bonds with water)?

During your ownership, have you ever vacuum bled the clutch slave cylinder at the driver's side bellhousing exposed bleed nipple?

Lemme know -
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My Ex has just hit 150K. I will have had it 2 yrs just after T day. It was got from a dealer. So unknown about any work. and No to the rest.

It sounds like it may be time for a clutch new slave and new master

You can remove the inspection cover and check the clutch travel see how far it is moving.
the driven disc maybe worn down, the pressure plate could be worn out, the slave cylinder could be whooped and /or the master cylinder could have lost some seals
Either way it is very likely that you need a clutch UNLESS an air bubble has gotten trapped in the master cylinder. This would be very strange since you have been driving it for two years and never touched the clutch system.
My vote is your clutch needs to be replaced, they do wear out.
A visual inspection is needed

At 150k, if it were me and I decided to replace the clutch slave cylinder I would definitely install a new clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing and pilot bearing/bushing along with the slave cyl.


Just sayin - At 150K, with no known maintenance to the transmission & the hydraulic system; at minimum you're looking at a clutch, pressure plate, pilot bearing, flywheel, master & slave cylinder, and the rubber plug mod to brass/aluminum cups.

Because of it's tank like appearance and drive qualities, the Achilles heel of an Explorer previously driven by a soccer mom or weekend warrior dad, is that the only thing it ever got during it service life was gas, and once in a while an oil change at Jiffy Lube. A transmission service is rarely thought of, until a problem raises it's head.

This 5 speed manual transmission, although re-designed by Mazda as "heavy duty" for the Explorer, will only provide a long service life if it's serviced at minimum, every 30,000 miles/every 2 years, whichever comes first - to BOTH the Hydraulic System and the Transmission. To clarify, that's a full bleeding of the hydraulic system and draining/refilling the transmission - BOTH with synthetic fluids. On another subject, but close to the transmission, at the same time I drain/refill the 2 quarts in the Transfer Case.

The transmission is pushing a LOT of vehicle weight (2 Tons), and the trans has a very tall 5th gear that makes it run hot, lubricated by a little over 2 quarts of very thin ATF... Compare 2 Quarts that to the Total Quart Capacity of an Automatic Transmission and you get the picture.

Thus, the 2 Quarts of ATF runs HOT, expands to the point of blowing the top cover rubber plugs, and as a result the shear strength of the ATF degrades like a rock off a table because of all these factors.

Before throwing a COMPLETE clutch kit and hydraulic system in your Ex, I'd suggest you first drain your ATF into a CLEAN pan, and look at it in the sun.

I would guess that your ATF will be black in color (as opposed to clear & red), loaded with brass that will shine in the sunlight, and your drain magnet will be completely coated in steel. Your used fluid viscosity might even be characterized as "gloppy/chunky" due to having more steel in it than the drain magnet could hold...

Transfer the fluid into a glass jug, and look at it the next morning when it separates. Bring that jug with you to the transmission shop and ask for their opinion whether to rebuild or not - again - Just Sayin' ...

As far as the sub-systems, as stated in my opening, at MINIMUM you're looking at a clutch, pressure plate, pilot bearing, flywheel, master & slave cylinder, and the rubber plug mod converting over to brass/aluminum top cover cups.


2nd IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not make the mistake of going cheap and resurfacing the flywheel as opposed to replacing it. Despite the fact that your flywheel might have a good surface, IT HAS WORN THINNER THAN IT'S ORIGINAL/INSTALLED THICKNESS.

The slave cylinder system on this transmission is the weak link, and to keep wear & tear down it should be kept to moving as small of a distance as possible when in operation - hence shelling out the $46.79 at Rock Auto for a new flywheel.

3rd IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not make the mistake of re-using the Master Cylinder. It's made out of plastic - yep - the hydraulic cylinder that the piston is in is plastic. Over it's service life it wears to the point where it will not "push" a new Slave Cylinder.

This is why once you install a new hydraulic system (Master & Slave) it's so important to FLUSH & BLEED every 2 years with new Synthetic DOT 3/4 fluid...

ALSO, last but not least, at the tail end of the Master Cylinder hydraulic line, where it connects to the inlet point of the hydraulic line of the Slave Cylinder, is a VERY SMALL O RING. It's as small as the font of the O that I'm writing here. If this O RIng gets lost and is not installed, well, you'll be in the classic situation of the $0.25 part stopping the whole operation...

Rock Auto Discount

Here's a 5% off Rock Auto Discount Code. Insert in at checkout in the box that asks "how did you hear about us" : 11978037353839345

On a tight budget?
Look around and find a transmission shop that will work with you and let you buy all the parts from Rock Auto and you only pay them for the labor.

My last two clutch replacements were $500 for the labor only.

When I explained to both shops that I was buying ALL NEW LUK brand parts including the flywheel, both were willing to do the job with my parts. They were assured that by my purchasing quality parts, it was going to be a simple 3 - 4 hour job that would work the first time; a classic win-win...

In closing,
I suggest using only Synthetic fluids for your Hydraulic System and Transmission:

Walmart.Com (not in stores) sells Valvoline Synthetic Max Life ATF @$17.97 a Gallon.
I buy (2) to get over the $35 mark and have them deliver it to my door for FREE...

Advance Auto Parts sells Valvoline Synthetic DOT 3/4 Brake Fluid for $7.99 a Quart


Hope that helps and good luck - any questions, pls ask :thumbsup:
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now we are talking
I agree with all of that!!! Huge thumbs up
OEM or LUK ONLY or you will regret it....................................... this is coming from somebody who does 3-4 of these clutches a year on average.