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No gears except neutral

dear car talk, am a missionary who travels a large reservation extensively with a wonderful 94 ford ranger.

we have gone through much together and my truck is well known as we haul trash, move furniture, deliver food, camp, etc. and the other day, while loaning it to a friend for a light duty day, it started losing gears and they rolled in with only neutral 4th and 5th. there was a burning smell and black smoke that came out before she pulled up and i can still smell it under the hood.

thought maybe if i could just put some transmission fluid things and pray over it, the transmission would be restored but cannot find the transmission fluid case to check the fluid. help.

thank you, jennez travelz

Let us know if this is a manual or an automatic transmission.

From your post I am assuming that this is a manual transmission vehicle. From your description the problem is likely a burnt out clutch although I don’t know why you would have only 4th and 5th (it should be 1st and 2nd). If this is a manual transmission, the fluid level check is on the side of the transmission case underneath the middle of the truck. Don’t mistakenly take out the allen socket screw bolt or you will drop the reverse lever into the bottom of the transmission requiring removal and disassembly to correct. If you do find that the transmission fluid level is down to nothing, you may have destroyed the transmission (why you still have 5th in this case I don’t know).

Hope I have helped. Get back to us and we can help you more.

I thought of a way you might have 4th and 5th only. To diffentiate the diagnosis try this test. With the engine not running can you shift into first gear? If so place the truck in a position where there will be no risk if it should drive forward; have the emergency brake on; step on the service brake pedal; and start the engine with the clutch disengaged, i.e. clutch pedal on the floor and the shifter still in 1st gear. Does the truck try to move when you release the brakes even with the clutch disengage? If not does the truck move when you engage the clutch? When you shift out of 1st can you get back in with the engine running?

Answers to these questions will help us help you.