View Full Version : Need help with clutch (pick-up)

03-26-2004, 12:57 PM
As I have noticed by others postings/interests, there seems to be some fairly knowledgeble individuals when it comes to vehicles. I ask of their help. I have a 1988 Ranger pick-up, it has sat since summer of 2000. I have started occasionanly, but has not been driven. I started the truck yesterday (after sitting all winter without starting, started right up),but I cannot get the clutch to release. I had to force (by shifting lever) out of gear, when I depressed the clutch to put it into gear (reverse), GRRRRTTTT. I could not get it to go into any gear with the engine running. Difficult to push/pull into/out of gear with the engine off.Hydraulic clutch, checked, topped off fluid, worked clutch about 50 times same results. I think the clutch plates are stuck together. I am no auto expert and do not have financial resources to put a significant amount into repairs. Asking for help, anybody?

03-26-2004, 01:40 PM
With the engine not running, put it into one of the upper gears, say third or fourth, push the clutch in and rock the vehicle. I have to do this for my nieghbors truck every spring.

03-26-2004, 03:18 PM
Yup it's probably rusted a bit. When I used to run standard trannies in the mud pits this was a constant problem. If it's not too bad it'll work as topct mentioned. I've had a couple that where so bad I had to get under it and slide a long slim chisel through the throwout arm boot and break it free with it. Other times I'd warm up the engine in neutral, shut it off, put in low then restart motor in gear. Once it gets moving put your clutch pedal to the floor and stab the gas a couple shots. This will usually break it loose. Be aware that your motor will rev through the roof when it lets go if you have too much go pedal... so easy on the gas!

03-26-2004, 03:53 PM
Hi, find somewhere you can drive round in a circle- then start up in gear with the clutch pressed down and keep going round and round this will free it off.

Mike W
03-26-2004, 03:53 PM
Check the clutch master/slave for air. The newer ones with the internal slave cylinder are hard to bleed. There may be a rubber plug on the side of the bellhousing that you can pop of to see if the pressure plate is moving.

03-26-2004, 04:35 PM
I like the rusted or sticky disk plate theory. You can manually check to see if the fork tube is extending and retracting at the bell housing to confirm the clutch hydraulics are functioning. You need someone to work the clutch pedal unless you are Plastic Man and stretch your leg into the cab while you are under the truck.

If you have tried all of the advice listed above, it might be the pilot bearing has gone stiff.

Usually, there is a bearing (pressed into the end of the crankshaft) where the transmission's input shaft nestles into. If the bearing gets stiff, the shaft will rotate regardless of whether the clutch is engaged or not.

If the transmission shaft continues to rotate, shifting becomes hard to impossible since the synchros can not compensate.

Mike W
03-26-2004, 06:52 PM
I don't think it is rust. You have the clutch friction disc between the flywheel and the pressure plate. The disc material will not rust.

03-26-2004, 07:42 PM
The disk won't rust, but the flywheel will and the ensuing gunk does seem to make a nice automotive paste. :-)

03-26-2004, 08:33 PM
Put it in gear, have someone jack up the rear so the wheels are off the ground. Start it (in gear, 3rd is good), press the clutch pedal to the floor, give ir some gas (3000 rpms should be good) and have your friend drop the jack. Works much better than driving in circles, etc. If it has a hydraulic cluch, check that the mechanism has fluid and is functioning.

03-26-2004, 09:14 PM
Take a clutch apart after it's been wet...dried and sat for awhile. If the orangey,reddish brown stuff on the flywheel and pressure plate isn't rust then whatever else could it be? Disk brakes will do the same thing. The pads don't rust but the area around them does and this will stop them from turning. The rotors on my racer rust all the time(they don't get hot enough to evapourate the moisture) and it can be a real pain to bust them loose sometimes. Be careful dropping that off the jack...you could find out about a new problem...broken spider gears!

Jason J
03-26-2004, 10:01 PM
I have dealt with this kind of stuck clutch problem for years. Living in the Pacific NW, with its high humidity in winter make it a common occurance. To "unstick" the clutch disk:
1) Start the motor and warm it up to operating temperature.
2) Shut off the motor and put the transmition in 1st gear. Step on the clutch. Start the car in gear, giving it little or no gas. It will pull away a bit jerkily, but don't worry about it.
3) Once you are moving, (with the clutch still depressed), alternately stab the gas and then let off. On, off, on, off, on, off. Continue doing this until the clutch breaks free. You will be able to get a good bit of "driveline snatch" going, and the shock from this will always eventually free things up. Sometimes it will take a while, but usually under a minute. Don't lose heart. Your only other option is to pull the tranny and disassemble the clutch. In 35 years I have never had to resort to getting under the car to fix a stuck clutch. Good Luck

03-26-2004, 11:42 PM

I don't mean to offend but what you propose is tricky and well a little riské. 3rd gear at 3000rpms would put the rear axle at about 35mph/80kms. OUCH! The whole drivetrain, which hasn't operated much over several year, is about to receive a major shock. I would be worried about the universal joints or drive shaft comming out to say hello.

Also why ruin a perfectly good Jack doing something like that. I would not suggest it. Another option is to gain access to the clutch and spray penetrating oil over it. I know this will be hard, but you can take the starter off or make a little hole in the clutch fork boot on the side. If your year has one.

I would really check the clutch cylinder as well. Those things are a pain...Don't just check the oil. Look for travel when someone pressed the clutch pedal. It also could be the master cylinder at the pedal itself.

Also check your brakes. They work somewhat on the same princpal. Pads rubbing against metal.

Good luck and be safe

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-27-2004, 12:34 AM
I drive two Rangers a 90 and a 86,both have hydraulic clutches,it could be the disc is glued itself to the flywheel or it could be a bad release bearing or it could be broken pressure plate fingers or even a blown slave cylinder or something real simple like a rat chewing the plastic fluid line into.

The last two would be my geuss,if this is the case you should see fluid leaking somewhere.

I have never had any problems with either truck except for the normal wear and the abnormal tear that I inflict on them http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

03-27-2004, 12:47 AM
DON"T spray oil (of any kind)on your clutch.

BTW...I assumed you'd already checked to see if the throwout was working properly. Could be a siezed throwout but then you can't depress the pedal. If everything worked when you parked it...then nothing should have broken while it was sitting still. If the hydraulics are leaking there is no way you can pump the pedal 50 times and still have fluid remaining in the master cylinder.

[This message has been edited by torker (edited 03-27-2004).]

J Thornton
03-27-2004, 06:35 AM
Your problem sounds like it might be a throw out bearing. I had a similar problem with my truck last year although not as bad. I would suggest that you pick up a repair manual at a parts store. A Haynes manual is under $20 at advance or auto zone. Take a good look under your truck especially at the bellhousing bolts. If you can get at everything without too much trouble you can do it yourself. A clutch set for a ranger starts at about $125. I did my IH pickup twice. It just took me longer than a pro.


03-27-2004, 09:58 AM
I just gotta ask. Is Merf23 joking with us here? If you where to do what he proposes you would be lucky if all you did was snap a universal. If this was meant to be a joke, I don't think it's very funny. Please do not do this.

03-27-2004, 10:07 AM
topct...my thoughts exactly! Could be fun to watch though! Only need a small bag of popcorn though...the show wouldn't last long LOL!

03-28-2004, 05:39 PM
Hey Torker,

do you think spraying the penetrating oil onto the clutch would be that bad? Don't get me wrong. I know it isn't the BEST thing to do, but i figured the oil would not make it too far into the pads as they are seized onto the flywheel.

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-28-2004, 05:52 PM

03-28-2004, 09:01 PM
Rob...I know what you were thinking and you just MIGHT get away with it if it was an evapourating type penatrating oil like WD. Problem is...when the disk spins and goes over the oily spots it will glaze that part of the disk immediately. The rusted mush will get slurped up by the porous disk material and the usual grooves in the disk will hold the rest. Brakes are the same way. It is a cardinal rule to not even touch brake rotors/drums or flywheel/pressure plate surfaces with your fingers. The oil in your skin can be enough to cause glazing spots on a disk or brake pad. Guys who run really high horsepower in stick cars are really fanatics about this. They need all the clutch holding power they can get. A couple of square inches of glazing can be enough to cause the clutch to slip when they are this close to the edge. It is possible to restore clutch performance (hillbilly tech) if it got oiled (usually from a leaky main seal or front tranny seal), remove clutch, clean all oil off everything, lightly sand metal faces (I use 220grit paper) then spray the dickens out of the disk with brake cleaner or ether, when dry sand the disk (I use 80 grit paper) from out to in...don't go around in a circle. This only works if the disk only got a bit of oil on it. If you got lots on it and slipped the hell out of it....forget it.

03-28-2004, 09:22 PM
No joke!
I used to work (professionally) at a car restoration shop (big $ corvettes, packards, jguars,etc) and have been into racing cars for many years. It is very common for the vintage english cars to use ferrous metal in the clutch discs. It is also common for these same cars to sit for many years undergoing repairs/restorations.

Using the technique I described breaks the cluch free from the flywheel in a very short distance (20-30') I have done it/assisted probably 15-20 times, MGs, jaguars, austin healeys, landrovers etc.
Use a small piece of 2x4 jack, and jack the truck up by the lowest point on the differentia. Its a lot easier on pickup than a sportscar, due to the extra ground clearance. This can certainly done at a slow speed initially, say 20mph. It is really important to make sure the clutch is indeed rusted onto the flywheel, rather than another problem. The tires will spin long before the ujoints, axles etc break. Usually the car will do a short burnout then the clutch will slip and come free.
If I wasnt clear, the jack is placed under the vehicle from the rear, and an assistant lowers the jack after the driver puts it in gear and gives it some gas.
I am a little surprised at the neg feedback. This is an old trick that (in my experience) was commonly used. I only had one car that it wouldnt come free which we had to pull the engine and chip the disc off with a hammer and chisel (it looked like that lathe on the sunken ship)
Hope your clutch is working!

03-28-2004, 09:26 PM
ER, I just notied you livfe in Taftville. I live in North Stonington. One of my offices is in plainfield. If you need a hand, email me at merf23@yahoo.com

03-29-2004, 07:20 AM
You see you learn something everyday. To be honest here, wouldn't the best option be taking the transmition off and fix the clutch properly. These are all short solutions that, if you tried them all, and they don't work, you will have wasted a day or two and still be back at the begining.

If they do work, good, but the bad news is your clutch is already damaged. Those rust spots are still there and are going to eat away your clutch. Sometimes the best solution is the long one. That doesn't mean i haven't done short cuts http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-29-2004, 08:23 AM
Thanks for all your suggestions. This past weekend I have continued to work on the problem yet to no avail. I have the Haynes manual. I got under the truck and had one of my "assistants" work the clutch while I attempted to see what is going on inside the bell housing. By removing a rubber plug on the side of the bell housing I was able to observe the following: 1) It appears that the clutch is operating. I do not have the book in front of me right now so, the pressure plate, if that is what moves when the clutch pedal as depressed, is moving. 2) Apparently the mice feel that the bell housing is a good place to make nests. I was surprised to find this since there is no sign of mice anywhere else I would expect to find them inside the truck. 3) Should I give up on trying to free it up and do as Rob suggests. Is it really damaged or just frozen up? The truck is only being repaired as a convienence to myself. I hate having to borrow friends' trucks because simply because mine is in need of repair. I do not need it for regular transportation. I would like to restore it though.

03-29-2004, 09:27 AM
ER...Was the truck working properley before you parked it? Was it raining/snowing or did you drive through any puddles etc before you parked it? Did you try any of the above suggestions? Can you get in there with a long thin screwdriver that you can whack with a hammer? Get someone to hold the pedal down and IF there is somewhere to get the screwdriver inbetween the disk/flywheel whack it and it should pop off. Thats a big job to take this apart for such a simple thing. Mouse pee huh? Never had that before. What rearend does this truck have? Is it a 1/2 ton or what? Also..I wouldn't be too worried about the flywheel/clutch being damaged by the little bit of rust. This is a common problem as you see from above. Mud race trucks live in a very nasty environment and you'd drive yourself nuts if you where to take it apart everytime this happened.

03-29-2004, 09:30 AM
I have had the trouble with clutches rusting to the flywheel on both my old tractors and antique cars from sitting and have found that, as others have said, about jacking the rear axle and starting in gear but I don't drive off, I simply put on the brakes with the wheels off the ground. I use my hoist for cars but you could jack and put it on stands to be safe, on the rear only. With it started and running at a fast idle and in 4th gear or top gear, clutch depressed, hit the brakes lightly to polish them up a little then hard to the point of almost stalling the engine and also give it some gas to increase the load. It usually works on the second or third time for me.

[This message has been edited by Allmetal (edited 03-29-2004).]

03-29-2004, 10:25 AM
Allmetal, that's how it's done. Very simple and most of all safely.

03-29-2004, 01:32 PM
Torker, The truck was working fine, driveline wise that is. Paint falling off, but thats a different story. My neighbor let me park it on his property, so I put it where it would not be in his way, off to my side of the property line, under the trees. Probably not the best of conditions, but it was not taking up useful space in my driveway. I had taken the truck through emissions testing, when I left the test station the brakes felt "spongy". Stopped at the pizza shop, got a grinder and a soda. When I left I noticed a puddle on the ground right under the gas tank. Using my haz-mat training I was able to figure out why the brakes were "spongy". Luckily all were within 1 mile from home. I was glad to find out that the gas tank was not leaking, but miffed that the brakeline chose to blow around the now full gas tank. Working third shift, six days a week, having a three year old and a newborn, and having another vehicle, I didn't worry too much about fixing it right away. I had more important things to pay for. I probably should not have let it sit as long as it has, but what is done is done. I would like to get it going again, but now I cannot move it to fix the brakes. I will replace all the lines. The rear end is stock, though I do not know what the gear ratio is. If I can access it, I will try to get something between the clutch and flywheel, and cleanout the "mouse house" as much as possible. May be a couple of days though. I'll let all know how thing go. Thanks again.

03-29-2004, 04:10 PM
Er...I was just wondering what it had under it for a rear diff in case you decided to do the dropping off the jack deal. If it had a D60, Corporate 14, 8.8, 9", 12blt etc. there isn't much to worry about. However... the smaller rear diffs have some pretty weak spider gears that can snap by simply spinning on ice and hitting dry dirt or pavement. This includes the 10 blt(GM) and the 7.5 that is cropping up everywhere. I rebuild a lot of rear diffs and have a low opinion of these. All you have to do is get the disk to move just a hair and it'll free up. Good luck!

03-29-2004, 06:00 PM

pulling off the transmition is a big job, but not really. My suggestions is to start and finish it as quick as you can. Time works against you as it always makes your forget where this wire plugs in, or where did i put that bolt.

If you get stuck there are alot of people on this board that can help you with their knowledge. You would also be amazed what you can con someone into when it involves wrenches and a free beer http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

NOTE: Always give beer after the job is done, not before or during. This will help production, and lower costs .... hahah

Rob http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-29-2004, 08:50 PM
Okay since you say the pressure plate is moving then I think I know what your problem is,not the clutch,but the shifter!My old 86'had a rubber ball looking thing on the business end of the stick under the shift top,it would sometimes pop off the end of the stick and get it hung up in between gears,no amount of cursing would free it,I had to pull the top off and shift it into first by hand with a screwdriver(truck not running)and glue the ball back on.I finally got fed up and replaced the shifter.Might be the problem.

03-30-2004, 05:42 PM
When you store tractor, old cars etc , try to remember to put a two by four on clutch pedal to depress enough to let me hit the starter and the vehicle not move (In other words, clutch not fully depressed). And I have never had the springs take a "set" or act weak. I usually remember to block the clutch a month or so after I park things.

When I run across a Stuck clutch (and its common with old equipment) I push the clutch down, put in LOW GEAR (so engine will be running fast and wheels slow) and try to start with starter (be sure engine is hot and starts easy), if that fails its nice to have a friend to push and then yank into gear. Worse is (and I have done it) start engine, snatch the tyranny into the first synchronized gear and then, when and if you move off, shift into lowest gear. Worst of all is to snatch into low gear at a stand still. If you have a Friend who has the gonads, do as suggested above - Jack using rear bumper, just high enough to have one rear wheel (on gearwheel drive)barely clear the ground, then have Friend lower car car slowly, it will pull off the jack and NOT shock the drive train- the shock absorbers let it down as it accelerates to the slow speed of low gear. Have friend do the lowering and tell them to stand to one side. The jack may shoot to the rear as the angle gets steep when the car moves away. Dirt is pretty safe, concrete is the time to have your helper lower the jack. Never tired it on metal, but it does get interesting sometimes.

I suspect most people shock the drive train harder when they drive over tracks and hit the brakes at the time they hit tracks. Anyway. first thing is to get it moving under power, keep clutch depressed.

Once its moving, keep clutch down and go full throttle, hit brakes any thing to "load" the drive train. Does no good to put in reverse because the engine still runs same direction.

I've drove them into the "north pasture (ridges from row crops still there) and got up as much speed as I could- looked more like a rodeo than a race. Never had to drop a transmission to un-stick.

All the above is done AFTER (I may be straying from truth here) you are sure the pressure plate is releasing (or at least the arm is moving).