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97 Ford Ranger (Manual) Does Lost clutch mean a new transmission?

I have a 97 Ford Ranger (Manual) with 213,123 miles on her. that is very ill. I was stopped in traffic today, when suddenly I lost the use of my clutch. It would not let me push in the clutch to put it into first gear. I turned off the engine and tried putting it into first before starting it (this has worked for me in the past) , but no luck. Some kind person helped me get it off the road, and after another couple of tries we were able to get it started and into gear. I was only a few blocks from home, but as I slowed from 2nd to 1st to pull into the driveway, it happened again. The clutch locked up and I could not get it into gear. My Husband tried to look at it. He checked the clutch fluid, and tried to get the clutch to move, in the process we heard a laud “pop” and I noticed dark fluid all over the ground. We are worried we may need to get a new transmission. I was just wondering if anyone out there may have an idea of what might be wrong so we can be prepared before we have it towed and looked at. I really love this pickup truck, it was my very fist vehicle and I really do not want to get rid of it, but I am scared a new transmission is going to cost more than it is worth.


Independence, KY

Check the fluid level in the clutch master cylinder again. If the fluid level is lower or there is no fluid the clutch slave cylinder has failed which will require the removal of the transmission to replace.


You stated that the clutch locked up. Does this mean you pressed the pedal with all your might and it would not move? Did your husband then proceed to press the clutch pedal harder than you could, resulting in the loud “pop” noise, clutch pedal freeing up, and loss of dark fluid? Ford manual gearboxes generally use automatic transmission fluid, so if the fluid came from there it should be a reddish color. Clutch master/slave cylinder fluid is brake fluid and should be clear. I suspect a foreign object bound up the slave cylinder somehow. The object may have been a damper spring from the clutch disc, as I have seen these break and fall out before. The last Ranger clutch I did had a couple damper springs missing. Unfortunately, if you heard a noise and ended up with red fluid on the ground, you probably broke the case of the transmission. That would make your transmission non-rebuildable, so you would need a different transmission. You may be able to get a functioning used one from a junkyard to get your truck on the road again. You would, however, need a clutch kit and slave cylinder to complete the job, and machining or replacing the flywheel is always a good idea.