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Clutch Issue with 95 Ford Ranger

I have a 95 Ford Ranger XLT, 4 cylinder, 2 wheel drive, 5 speed, with 168K miles. After All is fine with driving it and the clutch works properly, until I have driven it for about an hour. The clutch then begins to get stiff when depressed, and then moves fairly quickly (within 5 minutes) to begin very hard to press down. Then suddenly the clutch feels as if there is a small rubber ball stuck under it ? it is very spongy and almost impossible to press all the way down. The clutch will still engage, but only at the very top, and often engages suddenly spinning the tires. After limping home and letting the truck ?rest?, it operated normally the next time I drive it, until about an hour later and the symptoms return. My mechanic says that everything looks fine and all of the linkages seem to be aligned properly, and the slave cylinder is topped off the brake fluid. I did drive it for an hour before bringing it to him, and he did experience the issues, but has not yet had time to drive it an hour to replicate the problem. Any ideas? Thanks!

Is this condition occurring in stop and go driving? If so, do you hold the clutch down when idling? If so try idling in neutral with the pedal up. I suspect the throw out bearing is getting old and dragging against the pressure plate fingers causing damage to the mating surfaces.

if the pressure plate fingers are getting worn by wearing against a binding throw out bearing, this usually is accompanied by a loud wining sound. If the fluid liine from the master cylinder has gotten loose from its holddowns on the fire wall, and is being heated by the engine it could mean the brake fluid is boiling and that could conceivably cause this as well. maybe not, I’m not really sure, but it is something to check, after all this is a ford we are talking about here. another possibility is that the folcrum ring on the pressure plate is broken, and the one hour deal is coincidental to the malfunction.

Yes, it does occur in stop and go driving. I have tried using neutral when stopped, but the condition continues when I use the clutch again. Thanks.

No loud wining noises. I’ll need to ask about he fluid lines from the master cylinder. The truck is currently at the auto shop, but my local guy has not had time to recreate the situation by driving it for an hour. Thanks for the ideas.