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2002 Ford Ranger 4x4 (manual) selecting gear issue

Hi All. Looking for some advice. I just bought this Ranger 2nd hand a few weeks ago. I’d been using it a few times without issue though only short runs of 10 mins or so.

Today i got stuck in a pretty bad traffic jam. I was constantly changing between 1st, 2nd and neutral. After about 15 mins of this i noticed it was difficult to get in to 2nd. Next stop i knocked it into neutral and was waiting a few mins for the traffic to move again. Tried to go into 1st and it wouldn’t go. Tried 2nd - same. Tried revving and de-clutching but it wouldn’t budge.

Then i thought to turn the engine off and restart. It wouldn’t start. With horns buzzing i pushed it to the side of the road. After a few mins i tried to start again and up she fired. Slipped into 1st without issue. Of i went but 10mins later this all repeated. Changed down from 2nd and it wouldn’t go to first. Stuck in neutral. Again turned it off and again it wouldnt restart. This time it was maybe 5mins before it would start. But when it did - gears were fine again.

To get it home i pretty much kept it in 2nd and just clutched to stop. I didnt risk changing gear. When home though i was switching through the gears fine again.

My thoughts-

  1. I checked the battery (thinking it was the reason i couldnt restart) but its just 6 months old and holding a full charge. Starts easily from cold also - the day after.

  2. All the fluids are at max (Clutch fluid included)

  3. Heat - Thinking the traffic jam was causing temps to soar - but coolant temp was normal. Anyway when i eventually got home i was able to change gear easily.

  4. Electrical - When i was eventually able to start the engine again on the 2 occasions, the gears were free again.

  5. Clutch. Coasting home in 2nd i noticed i had to completely floor the clutch pedal to get it to stop. Also it felt like it was getting worse as the trip went on.

Hope someone can help. I will check the transmission oil but i cant believe its a cause as restarting the vehicle would have made no difference.


Sounds like it could be a failing clutch master cylinder

1 Like

Thanks for the reply. Just wondering why i couldn’t restart it immediately when i switched the engine off? Then when it would restart the gears were free again. Would that have re-energized the master cylinder?

The no-cranking might be related to the clutch, a failed clutch safety switch for example. I had that part fail on my Corolla one time. I concur w/the above poster, the clutch master cylinder is a likely cause of the difficulty to engage the lower gears sometimes. Try pumping the clutch pedal a couple times when that happens. If it engages the gear ok then, consistent w/a failing clutch MC. With a used car like that, I’d probably bleed the cutch hydraulics first, before presuming it is the MC. If the fluid level is down, could be the slave cylinder has sprung a leak too. That’s not the problem you want, so cross your fingers the clutch fluid level is ok. My guess, a replacement clutch MC and safety switch will get you back to a reliable ride. Neither are a big deal.

George. Ye i checked all the fluids when i got home. Clutch fluid was at max. Never thought to pump the clutch pedal. If the fluid is not leaking (externally to outside) is it leaking internally through the seals?

The most common failure mode for a clutch MC is a leak through the internal seals from one chamber to another. That’s not supposed to happen, and if does not enough pressure is sent to the slave cylinder to pry the clutch disc away from the flywheel properly. When that occurs the transmission input shaft – which should be free wheeling when the clutch pedal is pushed in – instead it is still being driven by the engine and this makes it difficult for the driver to shift. There is no external leak, so no loss of fluid. Suggest the “pump-the-clutch” experiment next outing. The way that works is sort of like if you need to blow up a balloon that has a leak in it. If you blow hard enough and fast enough you can still fill the balloon before it has time to leak out. It still leaks out eventually though.

Ok thanks George. Will need to find a quiet road.