clutch pedal shouldn't go to the floor..... | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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clutch pedal shouldn't go to the floor.....


Well-Known Member
December 2, 2009
Reaction score
City, State
Stryker, OH
Year, Model & Trim Level
91 Explorer XLT
fellow enthusiasts, i need your help!!

okay, so just in the last week, my clutch pedal has wanted to go nearly to the floor before it does anything; feels like there's no pressure at all....and then it'll do something, but it's hard to change in it today, and it was almost impossible to get it out of gear....first thought; air in the system...i'll bleed it!

no go.....after the first bleed, nothing really came out and the pedal now just goes straight to the floor....$#!&........

here's the back story on this explorer:
bought the 1991 xlt (4x4, 4dr, manual transmission) from a guy here on the Hopi reservation in AZ where i work...engine had been overhauled before the guy decided he didn't want to dump the money into the tranny and so it sat behind their house; until i saw it and a deal was made. as it didn't have the transmission at all anymore, the deal was pretty cheap ($200)....i had (well still have) a 93 sport with a manual transmission. the engine had a blown head gasket and as the body is badly rusting out, the costs didn't match up....easy choice?; buy the 4dr, swap the tranny's in the 6 weeks i had before christmas break and everything is good to go......



and it was, until i couldn't hook up the 91's clutch quick-connect to the 93's tranny.....easy; switch the master cylinders.......WRONG....the bolt pattern on the 93 cylinder and 91 firewall didn't match i did the only thing i could do with no money and little time (explained later): took the assemblies apart and put the hose with quick connect from the 93 on the master from the 91.....VOILA!! it worked!


93 connect on the left, 91 on the right


91 on top, 93 on bottom


frankensteined master cylinder and line

had two days left to get everything back together (transfercase, drive shafts, interior (had been gutted to be cleaned and wired for emergency lights and siren (volunteer firefighter))) and did so with a minute to spare.....drove it home to ohio (1800 miles), drove it there, drove it back, and drove it here with no problems whatsoever....until today......................

i'm hoping it could be something as "simple" as a clog in the master cylinder or something....take the master cylinder and line out, pump fresh fluid through them, unclog it, done....refill with fluid and bleed again....reinstall everything and it's back to business as usual....but something tells me it might not be that easy.....

now to note, when i attempted to bleed the lines today, the fluid that came out was kinda dirty....almost a black tint to it....that also something i should be worried about? what should i do?

also to note, i volunteer here and live on $80 a month (after food and housing), so the cheapest fix would be the best!!

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If flushing and bleeding doesn't work than it probably needs a new slave cylinder or master cylinder.

As you discovered, the hydraulics of the clutch system are different between the 91-92's and the 93-94's (really the 93 to 97's).

It's generally a BAD idea to mix and match stuff between the two, as there is a risk of the system not engaging/disengaging properly.

The best thing to do is use all the 93+ parts, the master, slave, hydraulic line, everything. Same goes for the clutch, pressure plate, etc. You basically want to do away with the older design stuff.

As for the pedal issue, it could just be an air bubble, as the Explorer system is notorious for trapping air. The 91-92 design was horrible at trapping air, the 93-94 was a slight improvement, and they even made 'revised' 91-92 master cylinders that were supposed to trap less air than the originals.

You basically really have to be patient and bleed, bleed, bleed the clutch with a quart or more of DOT 3/4 brake fluid, until not even the tiniest little bubble comes out. Then you need to repeat that over a period of days/weeks to keep getting any remaining air out that worked itself loose with driving.

You could also have a master cylinder that is going out, if the seals are worn, air will get sucked into the system (and the master cylider will usually leak), and so regular clutch usage just creates the problem. Only fix is taking apart the master to rebuild it with new seals and/or a new master cylinder.

Also try to bench bleed the master, it sits at an angle that wont let air out of it when trying to bleed while installed.

i'll give bleeding it through the disconnect a shot tomorrow. it's quite chilly here at night in the northern AZ desert, but i'm sure you knew that lol...i'll wait til the afternoon when i can just wear a t-shirt as it's currently stuck in my driveway and not in the warmth of the shop......

when i bled it earlier, i bled it through the bleed screw....which brings up another question; should the bleed screw wiggle? it felt loose or something, but it was tight in there....made me wonder......

thanks for the help!

4wheeltom and anime, your posts didn't show til i posted that haha...i was afraid the word "new" would coincide with the words "slave cylinder" or "master cylinder"....i'll try bench bleeding it tomorrow and we'll take it from there...

thanks for the help all!

Bench bleeding helps when putting together the system, but I've found that just bleeding over and over through the bleeder screw, using a length of clear tubing into a jar of fluid, just like bleeding brakes, works great. A vacuum pump can do ok if you're stuck doing the bleeding yourself, but pushing the pedal and moving fluid really gets the small air bubbles that are the problem out of the system.

The bleeder screw should not be loose, it should be tight/snug, otherwise it's letting air in. I would think a loose bleeder screw would also be a big safety risk, if it jiggles loose and comes out, of course it's going to spew fluid when the clutch is pressed and you'll lose the use of the clutch entirely.

well that's the was screwed in tight, but when i touched the bleed screw, it jiggled....still screwed in tight, but it jiggled a little.....the disconnect didn't do the same thing and there was no fluid anywhere to be found until i loosened the bleed screw....didn't feel like that when i bled the system after installing everything into the 91, or so i thought.....could be wrong....when it's 10* and 12:30AM, you don't really pay attention to tiny details like that...


literally just pulled the master cylinder and hydraulic line out of the ex...when i disconnected the line from the slave cylinder, quite a bit of fluid came out from the slave cylinder female coupling and i believe is still dripping out....have we found the source of the problem?

i'm still gonna bleed the master, replace the seals, replace the whole thing; whatever i have to do as it still goes to the floor (i know not a good idea to press the pedal when it's disconnected, bu t i was only feeling for a little pressure and felt nothin)....other than the slave cylinder connection though, nothing is leaking....went over the stupid thing at least 10 times searching for leaks and got nothin

couldn't be the slave cylinder could it?

couldn't be the slave cylinder could it?

Well, the slave IS the most common failure in these transmissions, by far...

I've only done the clutch twice, and it was years ago, but I don't remember any leakage when I disco'ed the line at the slave. Maybe the fingers in that connection are messed up or don't mate perfectly with the swapped in line?
Plus the jiggling bleeder screw doesn't sound good...
I hear you on the tight tight budget, is the slave from the other trans any good? If so, it would be free to try, just a lot of labor!

slave from other tranny might be good, HOWEVER, it did not come with the ex (gears were out and original owner started to work on it but decided not to spend the money and used the thing as storage...junked the tranny)

i'm making a trip into town (1 hour ad 15 minutes away) and will also be getting that $80 stipend, so i may end up just getting a new slave from NAPA today or tomorrow (running a 5k in sedona tomorrow and gotta go through flag anyway)

could stop at u-pick-it too, but wouldn't have the time......

The general wisdom on slaves is to NOT use parts store replacements, but only get one from from Ford. Maybe Napa ones are better quality than other parts stores, but at least check out the price from the dealer.

got it....i'll locate a deal and get it priced out...thanks for that wisdom!!!


was finally able to get the master cylinder out tonight....took it out to our shop and took it apart....holy crap!! it was full of gunk...don't know what it was and don't care at the moment....took everything apart, cleaned it all up and bench bled the whole thing....fluid is clear now....gonna hook it all up tomorrow, bleed it all again and i'll update you all with my findings!

btw, what is that black rubber insert in the fill res? didn't seem to be letting any fluid that some sort of dirt trap or something? if it's important i'll leave it in, but for the sake of bleeding it all, i'm taking it out for now....

I think it's supposed to float on top and keep air out of the fluid. Or maybe it's to keep dirt from potentially falling in when you remove the cover?
You can have it out while bleeding, since you'll be adding fluid.

Hope the mystery gunk was the cause of all the problem!

well, last update:

put it all together, and everything works.....guessing it was either the gunk or air....either way, i'll still be looking into getting new seals for the master and a new slave cylinder at some point...and a lot more if money would allow.....

which reminds me; only related to the last comment, i had seen a thread on here before about a suspension build....can't remember who posted it or where it's at, but it was a list of parts used for a 2-4" lift that included coil springs from a '76 f150, brake lines from a f350, coil spacers from an older f150 (or was it 250?) and other used parts that made for a pretty cheap build up....anyone have any idea where that is? seen it a couple months ago, but can't find it for the life of me

new issue (nothing to do with tranny)....went to replace driver side radius arm bushing as the old one was completely stud came out fine, but was havign trouble with the bottom one....finally it came loose, but too loose...checked and sure enough, the nut inside the beam that the bolt goes into is what? only thign i can think of is take the drivers side beam off, weld some rebar or something to the nut to keep it from spinning....if i can find more jacks and stands i'll swap the beams from each truck but i'd rather not...

nevermind....grabbed the schools migwelder from the shop and slipped it in the beam as close as i could to the bottom of the nut and welded it in place....bolt came out slicker than snot on a door knob since it was heated then too...first weld didn't hold when it went to putting the bolt back in, so i welded again...stayed in place and got nice and tight

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Well, it did it again.........the fluid resivoir was dry, so I took that black insert out and left it out...will keep checking the level, but something is still wrong...can't find a leak anywhere...checked the ends of the slave and the bottom of the bell housing for fluid and got nothing....checked every part of the master as well...nothing there either....not sure what's going fine withe the resivoir filled so I'm not extremely worried about it...unless I should be?