Spec Stage 2 Clutch Disengagement Issues


97Ranger3.0

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Hey everyone, looking for some insight into my clutch disengagement issues. Basically, I replaced & upgraded my clutch with a Spec Stage 2 clutch, a new master and slave cylinder, and also a new flywheel. I like the way it drives with the new clutch, but it doesn't seem to disengage fully. If I press the clutch pedal fully, sometimes gear shifts while moving are a little difficult but mostly the problem is with getting into reverse of course. When I come to a complete stop and try to shift into reverse, it'll feel like it's fighting me and if I try harder it will grind but still go in. However, sometimes if I'm lucky, if I wait 5-10 seconds then gently nudge it into reverse it won't grind - but sometimes it will grind just the same even with this approach.

I have a few thoughts on the problem and am wondering if anyone has any input. My first thought is the master cylinder, as I wasn't entirely convinced it was bled 100% properly when I installed the new one, but I couldn't get it any more bled. I filled it up and bled it off the truck before installing it, and no matter what I did it still seemed like it had a little more play than it should've. I tried vacuum bleeding the system as well with no more luck. I can buy another master cylinder and try again or try a reverse bleeder while it's still on the truck, but I'm not sure that was the problem either because it almost acts like it wants to disengage but doesn't quite fully.

My other thought is, when I installed the new slave cylinder I used the throwout bearing that came with the new slave cylinder as opposed to the throwout bearing that came with the clutch. I didn't think too hard about it because they looked rather similar, but what I'm wondering is if anyone knows if the Spec clutch has a different throwout bearing that disengages the clutch farther than a stock one. I figured maybe since it's a heavier duty clutch it may have more clamping force against the flywheel and may require a longer throw to disengage fully.

I don't want to go in blindly replacing parts especially if it requires removing the transmission again so I figured I'd see if anyone had any thoughts or experience with similar problems with the same clutch. Otherwise I guess I'll start with the master cylinder since it's easier than removing the slave cylinder and throwout bearing.

Thanks in advance!
 


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Elutheros

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I don't know about Spec 2 clutch kits, but I know the Ranger hydraulic clutch master cylinder will make you crazy. On my last two clutch changes I've bench bled the masters numerous times and got that same result. Eventually I replaced the hydraulic line from the master cylinder on my 1992 and evidently the fitting was leaking air.
I'm in the middle of doing a 1991 for my grandson right now and someone installed a thick piece of steel on the inside firewall around the master cylinder because the firewall corroded and must have been flexing. I just ordered the nylon bushing for the master cylinder rod connection to the clutch pedal. I'm thinking that there may be just enough play due to wear in the bushing that it may create this problem. It would be nice if it was that easy and Saturday I should know. So there is no short answer, just a lot of brake fluid used and hoping it works.
 

97Ranger3.0

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I don't know about Spec 2 clutch kits, but I know the Ranger hydraulic clutch master cylinder will make you crazy. On my last two clutch changes I've bench bled the masters numerous times and got that same result. Eventually I replaced the hydraulic line from the master cylinder on my 1992 and evidently the fitting was leaking air.
I'm in the middle of doing a 1991 for my grandson right now and someone installed a thick piece of steel on the inside firewall around the master cylinder because the firewall corroded and must have been flexing. I just ordered the nylon bushing for the master cylinder rod connection to the clutch pedal. I'm thinking that there may be just enough play due to wear in the bushing that it may create this problem. It would be nice if it was that easy and Saturday I should know. So there is no short answer, just a lot of brake fluid used and hoping it works.
Yeah I know what you mean about them being tricky. The weird thing is that my brother and I have done several clutch jobs on these trucks before and somehow haven't managed to have any problems until this truck's clutch job. No matter what I do it doesn't disengage fully. It's still driveable but like I said will grind reverse so it must be really close.

I'm going to buy a reverse bleeder kit soon to see if that helps at all, either way though I'll keep this thread updated in case I find anything clever to make this easier for someone else!
 

97Ranger3.0

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Well, after trying the reverse bleeder as well as swapping the master cylinder I haven't had any luck. I was really hoping the reverse bleeder would do the trick, but seeing how that didn't do it I think it's not an issue of air being trapped but a part being bad. I tried swapping the master cylinder to see if that would fix it, but it acts the same. I'm starting to think I got very unlucky and ended up with a bad slave cylinder out of the box. I'm going to try some more tests to hopefully determine that before I go & swap that because I'm not about to remove the transmission again any time soon! I'll try to keep this updated as I do these tests though in case this thread helps someone else with the same issues
 

97Ranger3.0

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Problem solved!

Turns out the brand new slave cylinder I installed was bad out of the box. It was a Sachs brand slave cylinder, which is unfortunate because I had heard they were a good brand. Anyway, I bought a new slave cylinder from Napa and installed the throwout bearing from the Spec kit onto it, bled it and it works flawlessly now.

I also have to add as a side note, I am very happy with my Spec Stage 2 clutch (especially now that it's working properly lol). For anyone considering buying one for their truck I think it's a great option. It's noticeably more grabby than stock but not so much that it's hard to drive. I personally think it's easier to drive than the stock clutch because it makes getting the truck moving easier - especially on hills.
 
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97Ranger3.0

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So maybe the problem isn't entirely solved... :damnit1:

The new slave cylinder from NAPA helped the issue tremendously, as the clutch works properly about 90% or more of the time. However, if the engine is up to temperature and it's a warm day out, I still sometimes get disengagement issues and especially a horribly noisy shift into reverse. The next thing I will try is also replacing the master cylinder with a NAPA one and trying all NAPA hydraulics and see if that fixes my issue. If not then I'm just not sure why my clutch hates me so much. I have a few other thoughts, but I'm hoping it just simply needs better quality hydraulics to be reliable.

So here's a timeline of my issues (just thought documenting this may hopefully help someone else some day, especially if I can ever fix the damn thing lol)
-Truck is stock, probably with its original clutch & hydraulics - clutch works fine, but wanted to upgrade (kind of regret that now 😂)
-Spec Stage 2 clutch installed, new hydraulics - clutch barely works properly maybe 50% of the time, moving in forward gears it wasn't super noticeable, just not able to shift quickly. If I waited long enough to shift into reverse (sometimes up to 30 seconds after pushing the clutch in before attempting the shift) it might not grind, or it might. I got sick of the anxiety of not knowing whether I was going to have the lovely grinding accompanying my reverse shift or not and started shutting it off before putting it in reverse, then starting it up again just to back up. Yeah, I got a lot of funny looks when I would back into parking spots...
-Reverse bleeding attempt, swapping master cylinder to one from Advance - no difference.
-Swapped to NAPA slave cylinder - large improvement, clutch works flawlessly most of the time. However, often still has trouble disengaging during hot days when the engine is warm or after idling for a long time with a warm engine, won't work properly again until the truck has been off and cooled down considerably.
 

97Ranger3.0

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Okay, this time I genuinely think I fixed it. I swapped the clutch master cylinder again, this time with a NAPA brand. Swapped it out, it didn't really feel more bled than the advanced brand one I had in it, so I wasn't convinced it would solve the problem. Then I gravity bled the system, and what do you know completely different pedal feel. Up until this point, the clutch had always grabbed low on the pedal, somewhere between 30-40%, now it wasn't grabbing until 60-70% so I could tell this was a good sign. Driving it, it drives totally normal and consistent. No disengagement issues so far even sitting in traffic on a hot day where before it would stop working correctly.

Moral of the story is, just buy good quality parts from a reputable source the first time. I originally bought name brand parts off ebay, and it appears that both the master and slave cylinders were junk from the get go. After replacing the master cylinder with an Advanced Auto one, no change. NAPA slave goes in, big improvement but not quite fixed. NAPA master and slave together, problem solved.

I still hope this helps someone possibly troubleshoot their clutch issues. These hydraulic clutch systems are finnicky as is, do yourself a favor and just spend the money when you do yours.
 

Daniel Black

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What do you mean spec stage 2 clutch? Is spec the brand? I have less than 1200 miles on a stock replacement clutch behind a mildly built 2.3 and it slips like crazy if you yank around on it. Forget about reving it up and dumping the clutch in 1st gear because it wont move, even slamming it in 2nd it slips now. I'm thinking maybe the pressure plate doesn't have enough clamping force.
 

97Ranger3.0

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What do you mean spec stage 2 clutch? Is spec the brand? I have less than 1200 miles on a stock replacement clutch behind a mildly built 2.3 and it slips like crazy if you yank around on it. Forget about reving it up and dumping the clutch in 1st gear because it wont move, even slamming it in 2nd it slips now. I'm thinking maybe the pressure plate doesn't have enough clamping force.
Yes "Spec" is the brand and "stage 2" is the clutch kit. Technically being a "stage 2" it's supposed to hold better for engines with increased hp and torque over a stock clutch. I just wanted a grabbier clutch with a more positive engagement so that's why I chose this clutch, my stock 3.0 is definitely not breaking any records for horsepower or torque 😂

I'm surprised you're having slip issues with a brand new clutch, but you said the 2.3 is built so if you are running more hp & torque than stock it can definitely be the case that you need an aftermarket clutch built for higher power.
 

Daniel Black

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Neat, thanks for the information. I'll look into the Spec clutch kit. I'm surprised it's slipping too. This is a factory Ford clutch set and I've really ragged other Rangers on the stock clutch and they held up, for a while. They show the same clutch for 2.3, 2.8 and 2.9s and I shouldn't be near V6 torque territory. I thought I broke it in good since I was breaking in the motor too. I still don't have 1200 miles on it but started being harder on it after about 200. I have been breaking a lot of wierd things though. First U-joints, then trans mount, then a motor mount, then the clutch. I've gotta work on an anger problem when other drivers do stupid things, or at least stop taking it out on the truck. lol.
 


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