Ranger clutch hydraulics problems... | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Ranger clutch hydraulics problems...


New Member
January 17, 2013
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 ford ranger 2.3
2.3, 2w drive

Started truck, clutch had loose feeling, easy to depress.

Could not put truck into gear (seems clutch would not engage)

Checked clutch fluid reservoir and it was low

Have not been able to find where fluid is leaking from because snowy weather

140k on truck. Clutch seemed ok (not much slipping)

This looks like a master or slave cylinder problem? Or what else could it be?

I read that if you replace master cylinder you should also replace slave cylinder or other way around. True?

If I'm replacing master and slave I have to take transmission out to get to slave right?

In that case am I best off replacing clutch at this time?

Thanks, trying to make these decisions in quick order as I would like to have the truck back on the road sooner rather than later.

* Update this morning I looked for any leaks from the master cylinder assembly to where it connects to the slave. Didn't see any fluid anywhere, but the reservoir is bone dry.

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Welcome to the forum!

Clutch problems are almost always the slave cylinder. Yes, you need to drop the trans to change it out.
Yes, general wisdom says to also do the clutch at the same time, since it's right there.
Make sure you buy the slave from the dealer, not a parts store.
There's a view port on the bellousing to look in at the slave, look for an oblong rubber plug and peel it off.
There's lots of threads here that go into detail on on all these points if you want to read up...

I had the same problem and after filling and bleeding mine it still didnt work right so I followed what this guy did, and it worked! Now I know i still have a leak and plan to replace the master cylinder today, but it got me back on the road until I could afford the parts to replace what I needed to... Hope this helps

Clutch woes

I'm having the same problem, but it seems to be related to cold weather. The clutch pedal goes halfway to the floor with no resistance and the clutch won't disengage.

I found the reservoir empty. I filled it up and went through the bleed procedure in the Haynes manual. All was fine and I drove around all weekend. On Sunday, I checked fluid again and it was a little low. I topped it off. It got cold again on Sunday night and it was 20F on Monday morning. The same problem returned.

The hydraulic lines from the master cylinder to the slave look fine. I'm guessing that maybe there is a bad seal in the master cylinder that is causing it to suck in air, but how would this be related to cold weather?

I'm thinking of changing the master cylinder myself, assuming that is the problem. It doesn't look too hard [relatively speaking]. Removing the tranny and changing the slave cylinder is way outside my comfort zone.

For the master cylinder, is there any particular brand to look for or avoid?
Auto Parts Warehouse [really fast mail-order delivery] has Centric clutch; Advance Auto parts has Perfection clutch; Autozone has "Duralast" and NAPA has "NAPA clutch", no doubt their house brands.

Any ideas how or where the air is entering the system? I'm going to take another look tomorrow.


Bwana Bob

Bob, I don't think air entering the system is the problem, the problem is fluid leaving the system! Air is just going in to replace it.
The leak could be anywhere. Have you removed the rubber cover on the 'view port' and looked into the bellhousing at the slave?

Ranger X:

Yes, I did look through the port, but didn't get a good look at the slave cylinder. I'll take a closer look with a bright light. I did stick my finger in to feel for fluid but didn't find any.

I forgot to mention that the slave cylinder was replaced in 2002 when I had the trans overhauled at 150,000 miles. I now have 240,000 miles on it, though.

I just don't know why it would fail suddenly when the weather gets cold. Maybe it's just a coincidence.

I will take a close look at the master cylinder, lines, and slave cylinder (If I can see it).

Yes, the fluid has to be going somewhere!


It could be cold related. Things can shrink from cold. And I've seen this mentioned in the past...

Well, I finally got a better look at the slave cylinder. I does look a little wet. Poking my finger around inside the bell housing, I found a black greasy substance, which I figure is clutch dust mixed with brake fluid. No signs of leakage anywhere else. So, I'm certain it's the slave cylinder (which was replaced by another shop about 90,000 mile ago).

So, I filled the reservoir and bled the clutch again and drove up to the transmission shop. I've done many repairs on my Explorer; things that I never thought I would or could do, thanks to the Explorer Forum, but pulling the transmission out is beyond my capabilities, I believe.

The shop is pretty busy, so though the owner will look at it, they won't be able to pull the trans until next week. That's OK, 'cuz I have the Focus as a daily driver, and the Ex has been laid up since December anyway. I just hope the repair doesn't cost too much more than the Ex is worth. I am rather attached to the old girl. (Attachment to vehicles must be a guy thing).

Anyway, I'll keep the group posted.

Bwana Bob

Oh, Happy, Day!

Well, my Explorer is back on the road! I got her back this past Thursday. Transmission shop confirmed that the slave cylinder was leaking. Since I knew what I was talking about, they figured that I am a gear head, so they invited me to have a look at everything after they removed the transmission. The slave cylinder showed obvious signs of leakage, as expected. The clutch was pretty well worn, with the wear bars visible, so they replaced that, too. The shop also found that the shift lever bushing was missing, probably disintegrated. This would explain the sloppy shifter action and the fact that the stick would shake while I'm driving. [The bushing can be replaced without removing the transmission and it looks like a fairly easy DIY project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9vow60baZo]

Now it's shifting fine and hasn't worked this well in years. The problem I had putting it into first gear is gone, so I suspect that the slave cylinder was ailing for a long time before it finally failed pretty completely. The sifter doesn't shake any more while I'm driving.

Anyway, it's a joy to have the old girl back in service. Now I'm finally ready for the snow!

Bwana Bob

Great to hear! Thanks for letting us know.