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Ford Ranger intermittent clutch problem

I have a 1995 Ford Ranger 4 cyl w/ hydraulic clutch, about 95k miles, and an intermittent problem. Normally, my clutch works fine, but a few times a year, normally during the summer, and normally only after driving for a half hour or more, it starts to act up. First, the pedal starts to feel a little spongy. Then, I’ll depress the clutch, and when I release it, the peddle comes up, but the clutch does not engage; a few seconds later, the clutch engages fully instantaneously, which usually stalls the engine if I am stopped. Then, when I try to reengage the clutch so that I can restart the engine, the clutch is very stiff, and I have to pump it a few times, at which time it will depress easily, and then I am usually back to the original problem where the peddle comes up but the clutch does not engage. When I finally make it home and the truck sits for awhile, the clutch then works fine again. I think it is the orig clutch. I have talked to several mechanics about this problem (including the Ford garage!), and they are mystified. One mechanic thinks that it is a problem with the master and slave cylinder combo, and can replace them for about $250. Does this seem reasonable?

You will likely get the complete clutch and hydraulic system replaced when the shop gets the transmission out and inspects the pieces.

This problem is likely a slave cylinder or release bearing problem. IIRC this system has the slave cylinder and release bearing inside the clutch housing. You can tell by following the hydraulic tube from the clutch master cylinder down to the bell housing. If the tube goes into the bell housing the slave cylinder is coaxial with the transmission input shaft. If the tube goes to a cylinder on the side of the bell housing; a rod comes out of the cylinder/ and a release fork goes into the bell housing, the slave cylinder is external.

In any case something is causing the release bearing to hang up./ Either the slave cylinder is catching mechanically internally or the release bearing is getting caught on its guide. As Rod Knox commented you are probably looking at doing all the work of a clutch overhaul so you might as well bite the bullet and do the procedure. You might not need to do the master cylinder but the differential labor cost will be minimal as you will have to bleed the clutch system anyway.

Hope this helps.

Rod Knox and Researcher -

Thanks for your replies, but you are scaring me! It sounds like my $250 repair just went up to $1000! Not sure if the old beast is worth fixing. Thanks again for your input.

The labor to install the complete clutch and all the hydraulics is not much more than replacing the slave cylinder. It has been a few year since I did one but if memory serves me the total was about 3 hours labor and $300 for parts. In my neck of the woods today the complete job might total $550. I would advise you to go into the job understanding that it is likely that everything will be required. I based that price on &75/hr and $325 for parts.Good luck.

Not sure if the old beast is worth fixing.

Sure it is. (unless it otherwise is falling apart). Even if this specific problem had not developed, you’d eventually be putting in a clutch sometime, the clutch is a wear item. Be thankful you have a manual transmission and ALL you have to pay for is a clutch for $500-$600. Automatic transmission rebuilds can easily cost four or five times that much. With only 95 k in 17 years, everything else about this truck probably has a lot of life in it. Go for it!

Jalukas, I have the same issue with my '97 Ranger and was wondering what did you decide to do? And what did it cost you. Thanks.

The others here indicate they think it is the slave cylinder, but in my experience, if you’re going to replace the slave cylinder, you should go ahead and replace the master cylinder too, because it could be one or both that has the problem.

When the clutch on my car gave out after more than a decade of use, I got the whole thing replaced. It wasn’t that much more expensive, and there is nothing worse than having clutch work done and finding out the problem still exists.

It is a long time ago, but if I remember correctly, the release bearing was shot, and the recommendation from my mechanic was to replace the clutch. I think the cost was about $600. It has worked fine since then.

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