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Problem Getting Into Gear / Ball Joints

1997Ranger

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My Ranger is hard to put into 1st gear at times from a stop. A few times I have to turn the engine off, and restart in gear. It seems to be an issue with the clutch. The clutch does feel spongy. If I don't turn off the engine and push the clutch down, slide my foot off and let it "snap back up", sometimes I can get the car into gear from a stop.

Also, anyone have any idea how much front suspension ball joints cost to be replaced, or links to instructions on how to do this job?
 



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Check your fluid

Check your fluid there is no telling how many slave cyls I have replaced on Ford products with this style cyl. If you have no leaks, prepair to replace the clutch. Get a good clutch and slave cyl prefferably from the Blue Oval shop rather than the parts store. I have had problems with clutches from the parts stores before. Ball jionts are cheap if you can do the work yourself expect to pay in the neighborhood of 2-3 hrs labor per side for a pro to do the job. It sux, buy those guy's have to eat too, and do not get the respect they should if you ask me.:thumbsup: Any how good luck to ya.
 






Crawler,

Hey thanks for the info. I've never done a clutch on a Ford truck before. What does this entail? Do I have to drop the entire transmission to get at the clutch? When you say replace the clutch you basically mean all the mechanical components? So if I do this I may as well replace the clutch disc as well?

EDIT -- I forgot to ask... This could be my imagination but I think the problem with the clutch seems to happen mostly when the engine is hot and warmed up (not when it is cold). Does this make any sense and would there be any explanation why this would be the case? Or is this fact just probably purely coincidental?

Is there any process for bleeding the clutch line? How easy or difficult is this?? I'm just thinking that perhaps this may help the solve the problem.. Thanks again...

What cost would I be looking at for a dealer or outside mechanic to do this work?

Thanks again for your reply!
 






When my slave went bad, it would not be as hard to shift until the truck warmed up, like yours, but I've read here of others having it just the opposite.

Your problem is the slave, and yes, you have to drop the trans to replace it, and most people say to replace everything while you're in there. But I would first try to bleed it, there's a small chance this will solve the problem.

Here's 410Fortune's bleeding tips he sent me when I replaced my clutch:
"To bleed it, here's the key:
I used to bleed for an hour and still had problems
Turned out I was doing it wrong. Whoever depresses the pedal, have them do it slowly and to the floor like 3 times. Hold it, then you just barely open the bleeder with the wrench.
The slave is a pain because you cant really catch the fluid or use a jar to keep air from going back in.
So just barely open it, let fluid out slowly, then close.
Release the pedal, do this 5-10 times and I dont care what system it is it is bled."
If you do a search, there are several threads about the slave, dropping the trans, etc.
 






I think that abought covers it. Thanks RangerX
I would like to note, however, due to the design of this particular hydraulic clutch system as must hydraulic clutches the more the disc (clutch) wears the more the angle of the pressure plate fingers change. This makes the somewhat limited travel of the slave cyl (per pedal stroke) more and more ineffective. As for cost probably depands on your shop but I'm thinking (If memory servs) a job like that is probably in the 6 hr range. If you are planning to do it yourself use lots of good penitrating lube on exhaust studs. I recomend PB Blaster and copius quantities of heat. Just dont set anything afire.
 






When my slave went bad, it would not be as hard to shift until the truck warmed up, like yours, but I've read here of others having it just the opposite.

Your problem is the slave, and yes, you have to drop the trans to replace it, and most people say to replace everything while you're in there. But I would first try to bleed it, there's a small chance this will solve the problem.

Here's 410Fortune's bleeding tips he sent me when I replaced my clutch:
"To bleed it, here's the key:
I used to bleed for an hour and still had problems
Turned out I was doing it wrong. Whoever depresses the pedal, have them do it slowly and to the floor like 3 times. Hold it, then you just barely open the bleeder with the wrench.
The slave is a pain because you cant really catch the fluid or use a jar to keep air from going back in.
So just barely open it, let fluid out slowly, then close.
Release the pedal, do this 5-10 times and I dont care what system it is it is bled."
If you do a search, there are several threads about the slave, dropping the trans, etc.

Hey guys, thanks for the info and advice. All of this is much appreciated. Sounds like a clutch job and/or slave replacment will solve this problem and is the way to go...

One other question. Do you guys know what is the average lifespan of a clutch disc from normal usage?? If that's too hard a question to answer, how about a range like worst case scenario and best case scenario.

I don't think my clutch is slipping yet, but at 108,000 miles, I think perhaps I should just go for a clutch change right now (and slave replacement at the same time), rather than trying to wait it out a bit longer until the clutch finally starts slipping. Normally I don't replace the clutch on my cars unless the clutch is starting to slip but if I'm nearing the end of the useful life of the clutch disc anyway, I might as well fix all these problems now and be done with it...

What do you guys think??
 






There's a thread here somewhere called "How many miles on your clutch?", or something like that. I got 200,000 out of my stock one, but it's all about how you drive.
 






There's a thread here somewhere called "How many miles on your clutch?", or something like that. I got 200,000 out of my stock one, but it's all about how you drive.

haha - i just found it.... no wonder you remember that thread! it appears to have been started by yourself! For anyone else who may be interested, it is called "How many miles can a clutch last?"

EDIT -- RangerX, by the way, I forgot to say Thanks!!! And to add that there was lots of good info in that thread. Seems like I'd be at least good for 150k if I don't abuse the clutch. It was interesting to hear that after 100k it still looked good according to one post. I think I replaced the clutch on my other car at maybe 70k or so...
 






Do what these guys said, but in the meantime, when it won`t go into first at a stop, with your clutch still depressed, put it in second, then back to first, this seems to line everything up for first gear. Mine used to do that before I replaced the clutch and slave cylinder, and that trick worked for me. Also if you have a lot of miles on it, think about having your flywheel ground, a shop will do it if you bring it in. REPLACE EVERYTHING while you have it opened up.

It is somewhat simple to replace the clutch, it just takes time, if you follow directions from a shop manual you should be fine.


-good luck
 






Do what these guys said, but in the meantime, when it won`t go into first at a stop, with your clutch still depressed, put it in second, then back to first, this seems to line everything up for first gear. Mine used to do that before I replaced the clutch and slave cylinder, and that trick worked for me. Also if you have a lot of miles on it, think about having your flywheel ground, a shop will do it if you bring it in. REPLACE EVERYTHING while you have it opened up.

It is somewhat simple to replace the clutch, it just takes time, if you follow directions from a shop manual you should be fine.


-good luck


Id50... thanks for the tip! Just purely out of curiosity, when (at what mileage) did you replace your clutch, by the way??

Anyway, I've never done a clutch on a front-mounted engine vehicle before. Mainly because I don't have a lift. Is it possible to do it with just jack stands and a jack? Would you have to put all four corners on jack stands or can you just put the fronts?

Sorry for the stupid questions.. I've never dropped a trans before on a Ranger, but I have done an older porsche 911 (rear engine, like a VW Bug). That wasn't that bad because all I had to do was support the rear high up on 2 stands adn drop the whole engine/trans. The engine/trans comes out as one and you can separate it later on the ground so working on the clutch after that was pretty simple and there was ample access to everything....

I'm thinking just using stands it would seem kinda tight and you'd have to work with the engine still in the car and working under the vehicle. Not like working under and being able to stand up when using a lift...

Could you just provide a general idea about clearance issues and such and whether it is possible to do this with just a jack and stands, and what the best method is (using stands) to get as much working space as possible if I don't have a lift?
 






My driveway lift method involved bringing home from work four 2' long pieces of 6x8 lumber, and placing one under each tire. Together with my 37's, I had plenty'o'room. :D
 






Hmmm, I think I changed clutch at around 150-160,000kms, it still had some meat on it, but I had shift problems and some shimmy that made me change it.
I just got the front end nice and high back then to get clearance, put an aproximately 8x8 piece of 1/2 inch plywood over my floor jack cup, and strapped the tranny to the jack with th ewood between so it wouldn`t shift. It`s kinda mickey mouse and it helps if you have two guys to keep it steady, especially for the re-install.
Take the t-case off to make it all lighter, I didn`t do that and it was like wrestling a whale.
 






Hmmm, I think I changed clutch at around 150-160,000kms, it still had some meat on it, but I had shift problems and some shimmy that made me change it.
I just got the front end nice and high back then to get clearance, put an aproximately 8x8 piece of 1/2 inch plywood over my floor jack cup, and strapped the tranny to the jack with th ewood between so it wouldn`t shift. It`s kinda mickey mouse and it helps if you have two guys to keep it steady, especially for the re-install.
Take the t-case off to make it all lighter, I didn`t do that and it was like wrestling a whale.


Again guys, thanks for the detailed info! Unfortunately I don't have a shop manual yet, so I'm not sure what the exact procedure will be. Like I've said, I've done a clutch before, just not on a front engine car so I do have a general idea of what I have to do. What I'm not really clear on is what happens after I unbolt the trans from the engine. At that point do I need to unbolt the other end of the trans and drop the entire thing? Or am I somehow just creating enough space to slip the disc out and silp the new one back in???

One other maintenance question. If I am going to the trouble to do the clutch and slave, what about timing belt and water pump? Does the ranger have a timing chain or belt? And anyone can give me an idea about how long the timing belt and/or water pump usually lasts or when is a good mileage to start thinking about changing them????

Thanks in advance!
 






What I'm not really clear on is what happens after I unbolt the trans from the engine. At that point do I need to unbolt the other end of the trans and drop the entire thing? Or am I somehow just creating enough space to slip the disc out and silp the new one back in???

The trans needs to slide back away from the engine an inch or so before it can drop. There are locator pegs that need to be cleared.

here's the thread I used to help me do my clutch. It's not complete, but it'll get you started. :thumbsup: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107024&highlight=clutch
 






The trans needs to slide back away from the engine an inch or so before it can drop. There are locator pegs that need to be cleared.

here's the thread I used to help me do my clutch. It's not complete, but it'll get you started. :thumbsup: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=107024&highlight=clutch

RangerX, thanks for the info....

Got any idea whether or not I should be replacing the timing belt (or is it a chain??) and/or water pump as a preventative measure at 108,000 miles??
 






Replacing anything before you need to could be good preventative measures, if you have the money. :dunno:
I still have my originals, cuz I'm poor and cheap. :p:
 






That would be some kind of superpower, if you could always catch that breakdown in advance!
I don`t think a timing belt or chain is something you just toss on as a preventative measure, I haven`t looked at the method of doing one, but I imagine it is not a quick job, and not one that you would do at the same time as a clutch replacement. -Unless you work for "overhaulin", or you got a dozen guys in your garage or something.

If your water pump is quiet, spinning, no coolant is dripping out of the tattletale hole in the bottom -and you have no overheating issues, I wouldn`t worry about it. It`s not something that violently fails and leaves you stranded, IMO, and IME.
 






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