2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?

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My 2002 3.8l 5-speed mustang has always (since I bought it in April
'09) exhibited an annoying "clunk" sound when i put it in first gear,
and less so, in 2nd gear.  However, if I wait a half second or so
(after depressing the clutch), then I can engage 1st gear (or 2nd) and
there is no "clunk" sound.  One retired mechanic told me that this was
due to the high speed of the main transmission rotor having to spin
down (after the clutch is depressed), which takes a half second or so,
and, that, when i try to just slam it into 1st then that "clunk" sound
was the main rotor being jarred into a slower speed by the synchromesh
as 1st gear was being engaged.

He suggested that there was no solution but for me to stop trying to
engage 1st gear so abruptly, but, to either wait a half second (after
depressing the clutch), or, to just hold the clutch depressed waiting
for the red light to change, and then 1st gear can be engaged without
any clunking sound.  I didn't like that answer, because i was always
taught not to "ride the clutch", and that the clutch should only be
engaged at the moment a gear change engagement was imminent, and that
a good driving habit was to promptly depress the clutch, engage the
gear evenly but without any pause,  and then to smoothly but promptly
release the clutch.

Yesterday a Ford parts person told me that my mustang had a hydraulic
clutch, and that, probably what was happening was that the reservoir
for the hydraulic clutch was probably low, and that it was taking a
half second longer for the clutch to be fully disengaged even after I
fully depress the clutch pedal.  He said that by waiting a half
second, it was allowing the sponginess (due to air bubbles) in the
hydraulics to finally separate the clutch plate and then the gears
could be engage without any jarring.  He told me to look for the
reservoir under the hood on the driver's side lateral to the brake
reservoir.  I can't find it, even after a thorough search with a
flashlight and I looked everywhere under the hood.

So, is the clutch on a 2002 3.8L 5-speed mustang driven by
hydraulics?  Or a cable?

Does anyone know where the reservoir, if it is hydraulic, is located?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
I don't know which actuation method your clutch uses.

I have had a number of different cars whose various clutch actuators
worked well or not-so-well. When they worked not-so-well, and the
transmission behaved the way you describe, I found one action that
/usually/ worked, but it took the half-second you seem to be missing,
to be effective: put in the clutch pedal, pull the shift lever toward
the 2nd gear position, but stop when you encounter a little
resistance, then shift to the gear you want to use. Apparently the
resistance you feel is enough to actuate the synchros, to better match
input and output speeds. It worked on my early MG non-synchro first
gears as well as the 1500-mile-old five-speed in the new-new-new GT/CS

Frank ess

surface9 wrote:
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
When I bought it in April, the previous owner did not have an owner's
manual, and I couldn't find one anywhere - if you know where I can get
one, please advise.   I did look and I see that my clutch is cable
controlled, not hydraulic (so much for the Ford parts guy).  I had the
transmission level checked and it is full - I also had the rear end
checked and it is good also, as well as the u-joint, which is good.
This jarring sound I hear may be normal for a 2002 mustang 5-speed,
but it caught my attention because my 1997 Ranger 5-speed works
flawlessly with no jarring sounds at all.  It is true that I can
minimize this sound by nudging the gear either towards 1st or 2nd
(with the clutch out), but stopping short of engaging either gear.
Just by nudging the shift in that direction (1st or 2nd), I hear the
jarring sound (but less loud), and, then it goes away and I can go
ahead and depress the clutch and go right into 1st or 2nd.  That is my
current work-around when waiting at a red light or after coming to a
full stop at an intersection.  I just leave the clutch out and nudge
the gear towards 1st gently and I hear a slight jarring sound and then
i when I am ready to go into 1st there is no sound at all.  But, after
I gain speed in 1st, and am ready to shift into 2nd, I again hear that
jarring sound when i go into 2nd because I don't have time to pause
since there are usually cars behind me with impatient drivers.  If no
one is behind me, then, when I shift from 1st to 2nd and take a half
second pause, there is no jarring sound.  Ditto for shifting from 2nd
to 3rd, but, much less pronounced (I didn't even notice it from 2nd to
3rd until I starting taking special care to listen for it).

So, what I am wondering is whether or not this intermittent jarring
sound (which I can repeat any time I want, and can avoid with the
pausing or pre-engagement nudging maneuver), is doing any damage to
the clutch or gear box - if not, then I'll just live with it.  It
makes me think that somehow the parts of the synchromesh that make the
initial contact when going into 1st or 2nd may be worn and not doing
the job up to spec - in that case, i would want to consider having
those parts replaced.  I just don't know.  Other than that, this car
is a really fun car to drive, it is peppy, and the mileage is low
(68K) so I think I should have many years of good service from it.  I
really would like to have a better understanding of this jarring
sound, just so I can know what whether or not I need to do something
about it.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
On Sat, 25 Jul 2009 00:20:04 -0700, surface9 rearranged some electrons to

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You can download one from Ford's website.  Then you can perform the
adjustment procedure.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
You should be able to download a copy of the owners manual at Motorcraft.com
or at myford.com. Both of these should be free downloads...

As for your concern... it may be something as simple - even small amounts of
contaminants can offer a "dragging" effect to the pressure plate keeping
things spinning a tad more than desired... Could be a concern with the pilot
bearing that is keeping the input shaft turning a bit longer than normal...

The more I read, the less convinced I am about understanding the nature of
your "jarring" sound... is there another description you can give it that I
might understand more easily? A "ratcheting" noise perhaps... especcially if
you are having problems with a "rushed" 1-2 shift?

Have you tried selecting reverse first to stop the transmission turning? I
cannot recall which transmissions are equipped, but I recall reverse gear
"brakes" in some transmissions...


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Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?

I found the owner's manual at the ford website, and read about how to
adjust the clutch (motor off, 1st gear, pull up on the clutch, then
press all the way down and listen for a clicking sound).  I did this
but it didn't seem to have any effect on my "jarring" sound when going
into 1st gear.  I make sure always that I fully depress the clutch (a
neighbor kept insisting that I probably wasn't pushing the clutch all
the way in).  And I can say that when I first start the car, I have to
back out of the garage (in reverse), and I don't hear any sound at all
when I then go into 1st gear after that  - I noticed that the way it
then goes in so smoothly I wished it would ALWAYS engage like that.
But, when I get ready to go into 2nd, if I follow my normal cadence
(like I have done for years in my Ranger) by a) letting off the
accelerator, b) fully and quickly depressing the clutch, and, c)
straightaway moving the gearshift lever down into 2nd, then I hear a
jarring sound, which also seems to reverberate all throughout the
underside of the vehicle (one observer thought it might be the rear
end, but I had that fully inspected when I first got this car back in

As to the jarring sound, I guess it is a little like the sound you
would hear if you suddenly stopped a spinning object like a gyroscope
by thrusting a screw driver into the spokes.  THUD! After I come to a
full stop, such as at a red light, and I am sitting there in neutral
(I notice it tacks at around 900), then, when the light changes, I
follow my lifelong cadence of a) depressing the clutch, b) moving the
gearshift lever forward into 1st gear, and c) releasing the clutch as
I depress the gas pedal.  I have been driving standards ALL MY LIFE,
and my cadence was taught to me by experts a long time ago.  I never
hear anything when I am in my Ranger.  But, when I do this in my
Mustang (as above), then, just as I am moving the gearshift lever down
into 1st gear, I hear this THUD before it goes clean into gear.  It
does sound like the whole undercarriage is jolted somewhat.  If,
however, while I am still waiting for the red light to change, I nudge
the gearshift lever towards 1st gear (or 2nd) with the clutch still
up, and only moving the gearshift lever slightly towards 1st, I hear a
small thud, and it does truly sound like if you were apply a brake to
a free spinning suspended wheel, but, since I am not hard pressing it,
but only nudging it, then, the jarring sound is diminished, and only
lasts for about 1/2 second or less.  After that, I can continue
waiting for the light to change, and, then go right into 1st gear with
NO sound or jarring at all.  But, even then, when I go into 2nd, I
hear (and feel) that THUD.

The mechanics I have had look at it so far have not been very much
interested - mostly because (I think) they do NOT KNOW what is going
on (as revealed by some of their suggestions, like maybe being a loose
u-joint), and, also, they can't make it happen if they pause slightly
after depressing the clutch before engaging either 1st or 2nd gear.  I
get frustrated trying to get to the bottom of this - I am figuring it
probably is the main rotor still spinning for a half second or so and
maybe my normal shifting cadence (which has always worked fine and
still does with the ranger) is just too speedy for this mustang -
maybe this is just the way it was designed.  But, then, I don't really
believe that either - I rather think that something within the
transmission is worn and not doing its job somehow or other.  I
wouldn't describe my cadence as "slamming" it into gear, but, just NOT
PAUSING, but promptly and immediately moving the gearshift lever into
1st after fully depressing the clutch to the floor.  I am sure that
the clutch pedal is bottomed out, but, then, I am not in the habit of
lingering after that, but, going right ahead and moving into 1st
gear.  That seems so natural and it shouldn't be a problem or cause
any jarring or thudding sounds.

I sure wish I could resolve this nagging problem.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
On Sun, 26 Jul 2009 00:55:46 -0700, surface9 rearranged some electrons to

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Try double-clutching when you drive it... if that causes the noise to
diminish, then the problem may be worn out synchros in the transmission.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?

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I am embarrased to admit it, but, I don't know exactly what "double-
clutching" is.

Do you mean just depressing the clutch twice?  (depressing, releasing,
and then depressing again)?

I must have heard that term before, but, I don't really know what it

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
surface9 wrote:
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Double clutching is pressing foot down, popping it out of gear, letting
the clutch out, pressing the clutch again and shifting to the next gear.

I think you said that you checked your fluid level and it was fine, but
you might try changing it, maybe with some synthetic.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
On Sun, 26 Jul 2009 20:04:22 -0700, surface9 rearranged some electrons to

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Kids.... <:-/


Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
I drove a lot yesterday and used the double-clutch method when
changing from 1st to 2nd and it did lessen the thud sound, but, the
time it takes me to effect a double-clutch is more than what it would
take to do a regular shift with a slight pause, so, I wonder if the
lessening of the thudding sound is more due to the longer time period
before going into 2nd.  But, anyway, i am wanting to know more about
how this transmission and clutch are put together - are there any
online sites where they might have a diagram of the inards of this
transmission?  The parts guy has that on his screen, but, he is a bit
embarrassed now and doesn't really want me to hang around and pester
him about this now (since he thought it was a hydraulic clutch).

I need to find somebody locally here (Dallas area) that really knows
how these transmissions work and can figure out what is going on and
give me a straight answer.  Maybe I don't need to do anything but
modify my shifting method when driving this mustang - but maybe there
is a part inside that would solve this problem if it were changed
out.  I really want to know and I need to be able to see a picture of
the insides and how it goes together.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?

surface9 wrote:
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Quantum Performance www://quantum-perf.com


They are around there, and are a Shelby-approved mod shop. I'll bet
they would be able to tell you something, or know someone around
there, who can.

Frank ess

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
I took it to quantum-performance in Dallas and they rode around with
me for a bit and told me that it was not a problem, but, was typical
of the stock transmission that comes standard on my 2002 3.8l
mustang.  He said the synchros might be wearing a bit (after 68k
miles), but, it was not anything I needed to worry about, and that to
do anything about it would be very very expensive (taking the
transmission out and apart and all that goes with that).  I am
relieved and I have been modifying my shifting (slowing down just a
tad) and I can live with that.

Now that I have been driving a mustang since April, I have started
noticing mustangs on the highway - I stumbled into this sale but I am
sure glad I did.  I had been looking for an economical car with a
standard transmission and it turns out that most economy cars all have
automatics, and that is the only reason I went to look at this one in
the first place - glad I did.  Mustangs are very well designed and put
together - I expect to get many many miles of use of this.

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?

surface9 wrote:
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I'm glad you found a trustworthy agent to help you with your problem.

Enjoy that Mustang.

Frank ess

Re: 2002 3.8l Mustang 5-speed - cable or hydraulic clutch?
I've been driving standards all of my life too.... going out on a limb, I'll
suggest that this may be a day or so longer than some in RAMFM. This doesn't
mean much.

You keep mentioning YOUR normal cadence... In all honesty, both you and the
car have a personality... the car will win...

The more you write, the less convinced I am that you have a problem.

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