Help: Clutch Disengage Problem

This problem has existed in my 1992 Explorer for a while now. It seems that pushing the clutch pedal to the floor board doesn't complete disengage the clutch. The symptom is that
getting into first gear is slightly difficult; I have to use some force to snap it in gear; of course it slides in easily when the wheels are turning. What is the problem here? How can I resolve it? Thanks in advance, Jeff ... at ... sheffel ... dot ... org
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I saw this problem many years ago on a Civic. The engine rear seal was leaking, the clutch disk was wet with oil.
Tim
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snipped-for-privacy@flash.net (Tim Brown) wrote:

I can see that causing clutch slipping/burning, etc, but hard shifting? Seems unlikely to me. Care to try to explain the mechanism involved? I sure can't figure out how such a condition would fit the described symptoms. It's definitely counterintuitive, at the very least.
What strikes me as more likely is failure of the clutch to disengage due to purely mechanical/hydraulic insufficiency of the release mechanism - Which would point me in the direction of (in decreasing order of probability) master/slave hydraulics or cable (whichever applies to this vehicle) operation, throwout lever (for possible distortion that would make the throw "shorter" than it should be for a full disengagement), pressure plate, pilot bearing (if bound/sticky, could continue driving the input shaft despite mashing the pedal) and/or throwout bearing, or possibly the clutch disk itself.
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I saw what I saw. A dragging clutch. Disk covered with oily goo. Replaced disk, pressure plate, throwout bearing and seal, clean flywheel. Problem solved. Nothing else seemed obviously badTB
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Don't you find it odd that the rear seal is on the engine side of the flywheel, where oil would be slung outward if it made contact with the flywheel? It would have to be a very bad leak to release and drop oil from the bellhousing onto the clutch/pressure plate side of the flywheel..It is theoretically possible, but the amount of oil necessary to accomplish would have gotten my attention immediately. Maybe we should ask Jim.

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snipped-for-privacy@flash.net (Tim Brown) wrote:

Well shit, with that kind of logic, it *MUST* be a blown seal!
Kinda like the old one about Grandpa's axe - "It's had 18 new handles, 3 new heads, and a couple dozen coats of paint since he bought it, but this here's still my grandpa's axe."
Let's see... replaced disk, plate, throwout and seal, and cleaned the flywheel. About the only things in the mix that DIDN'T get replaced were the engine and transmission. I *HOPE* "problem solved"!!!
Now, it's great that the problem was fixed, don't get me wrong on that. But trying to draw a conclusion about what actually failed after shotgunning the problem so heavily is an excercise in futility. It could have been any single item on the laundry-list that got replaced, or a combination of them. Trying to pin this one on the leaky seal... Uh-uh... It doesn't hold any scientific water. You changed WAY too many variables to even dream that you got a hint at which one was the actual culprit. If you aren't following along and understanding why I say that, it's really pretty simple: Was the problem cured because you fixed the seal and cleaned the flywheel? Or was it solved because you put in a new clutch disk? Or maybe it was the throwout bearing that was gone, and replacing that was what REALLY fixed things? What about that pressure plate... It may have been bad, and when you replaced it, that cured the trouble. See where I'm going? Saying "It was the oil leak that was the problem" after changing all that hardware is kinda like flipping an entire bank of 10 switches in the back room of a store, then coming out on the sales floor and pointing at a particular light bulb and saying "Switch #2 controls that bulb". MAYBE switch #2 DOES control that bulb. But until you flip each switch individually, observing which bulb comes on when each switch is flipped, there's no possible way to be certain that's truly the case.
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If I open up a clutch that has significant mileage on it I'm changing the disk, plate, and throwout regardless. I don't consider that a shotgun approach.
TB
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snipped-for-privacy@flash.net (Tim Brown) wrote:

Sure, that's only common smarts, and I ain't even *THINKING* about trying to argue that. But swapping a fistful of parts, then claiming that "Item X" out of the set of "Z" items that got replaced was the faulty one is... Well, to put it bluntly, utterly shitty reasoning. Sure, the problem was fixed, but determining what was the ACTUAL problem by replacing (essentially) the whole thing is well into the realm of impossible unless you happen to get lucky and guess right.
My point being, I could take a car with... Oh, let's say a bad lifter tick, just as a problem that can be named/fixed... So I swap the engine for a known good one - no problem. Trouble is fixed. Which is good.
Later, trying to say "It was the #2 exhaust lifter that was the culprit" would be a line of purest bullshit unless I'd torn down the swapped-out engine and actually found conclusive evidence that it truly was the #2 exhaust lifter.
Is what I was trying to say just a bit clearer now?
Basically, in your initial "The seal leaked" scenario, you "swapped the engine", and you're now blaming the #2 exhaust valve (the leaky seal), without actually having any idea whether that was really the problem. Yes, a leaky seal is a bad thing. Yes, you replaced anything that might have been affected by it leaking. No, you don't have any idea that's more accurate than a blind guess whether the oil was the actual problem, or if the bad seal was the CAUSE of the failure, or the RESULT of some other part failing. In other words, did the seal blow, coat things in oil that weren't supposed to be coated, then they got sick and died because of the leaking oil? Or does the problem stem from the clutch disk having a chip out of one side, unbalancing it, and the resulting vibration ate the seal, which then spewed oil all over the works?
Granted, this is a pretty nit-picky point, but I think you can see where I'm going with it?
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I just replaced the clutch in my '97 XLT with 170K miles for the same symptoms...slightly "stiff" when shifting underway, but just about impossible to get in any gear when at a stop with the motor running. Basically everything including the clutch slave cylinder was replaced. I suspected the throwout bearing was failing, but the clutch disengages a lot higher on the pedal now, so that slave cylinder looks pretty suspect. Anyway, it pays to get everything in there since the big thing is getting that transmission out. Shifts like butter now! Good luck.
=VicBear Gap, PA
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Tim Brown wrote:

Wouldn't that make it not engage rather than not disengage? I think a problem with the clutch master/slave cylinder is more likely.
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No, actually the oil on the disc makes it sticky. Same with axle seals leaking on the brakes. First sign that you have an axle leak is the brake on that wheel locking up and squeeling everytime you stop. Highly unlikely that's the problem with the clutch though. The seal is behind the flywheel so any oil leaking from the seal doesn't usually get on the clutch. Several probable causes, wear in the lickage/actuating mechanisms. If it's a hydraulically operated clutch, could be/probably is loss of fluid causing air in the system. Cable actuated could be a strectched/about to break cable. Linkage rod type could be worn pivot points. Another possible cause is a dry/seizing pilot bearing. The front end of the trans input shaft runs in a brg in the end of the crank. If it's seizing the shaft will want to continue to turn with the crank even when the clutch is disengaged. Start with checking the actuation mechanism. You want to make sure you have full travel of the release bearing for full travel of the clutcch pedal. Check that and get back to us. Steve G.

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I had a similar problem. Most folks seemed to think that it was the throw-out bearing. I had the clutch and manual tranny replaced at the same time (for a variety of reasons) and the problem went away (there's a surprise eh?).
Paul

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I've had that problem with my 93 Ranger, turns out to be the slave cylinder (inside the housing) at fault. I replaced it with a new Motorcraft slave cylinder, it lasted about 2 years and now again, I'm having the same problems. I heard somewhere Ford had a design flaw with these but it was allegedly fixed. My next one I'm going aftermarket after I bleed it out again just to make sure I covered that.

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You've had some good suggestions.... without knowing miles, service history, etc. I would check the fluid level first - there is a balck rubber boot that sits inside the reservoir and many times I have seen the boot full of brake fluid and the reservoir empty.
If the pedal feels good all the way to the bottom of it's stroke (no sponginess, etc.), it may be time for a new clutch. Be aware that continued use in it's current condition is going to turn a clutch repair into a transmission overhaul.
HTH

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I have had this problem with my 92 for over a year now. How could a worn clutch cause this problem ? My 92 has over 180,000 miles and has the original clutch and slave cyl. I was thinking this could be caused by worn syncros ? The problem only seems to appear after I have been driving for awhile.
Andy

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Lots of good points, here we go. Check fluid in resivoir to make sure it is full. Check pushrod to pedal connection under dash to see if the bushing is worn out, it dosn't take much slack in the mechanics of it to cause problems. Have someone push the pedal down while you watch the outer firewall for possible movement (some flexing is normal) we all know ford had a problem with there F150's. Is it possible to pump the clutch a few times quickly and hold down on last stroke, will it shift into 1st easy? If so then bleed the system for possible air. Make sure you don't have a after market floor mat that is too thick causing shorter pedal stroke, seen lots of that. The other things to consider is a master that is leaking by internally. To check that, you could disconnect the line at the quick connection at the slave cyl, then very slowly depress the clutch pedal with a bit of pulse in your application, the pedal should not work it's way to the floor. Another thing, remove the rubber inspection plug from the side of the bellhousing and look inside with a flashlight to see if there is oily gunk on the release bearing and slave cylinder, this is an indicator that the slave is leaking, if this is so then you must be down on fluid in the resivoir. Also a seized or almost seized pilot bearing can cause such a problem, rusted or twisted input shaft splines, or a disk or pressure plate that is warped from heat or one broken diaphram finger missing. All these things could cause your input shaft to remain spining while your clutch is disenguaged.
It may be a simple problem so check everything externally first Good luck Bob
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