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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I've had my E for almost 2 years now, and for the past few months or so, I've noticed that it has been occasionally fighting me when I try to put it into first gear; doesn't matter if I'm still moving or at a complete stop. It doesn't do it all the time, and I can't seem to find a consistent reason for this flare-up to occur. (ie: not always on hills, not always when cold/hot, etc.)

This same bugger of a transmission will also sometimes fight me a bit getting into second gear. Sometimes, it shifts smooth as butter. Others, it has a bit of a "hiccup," if you will, when I try to put it into gear. Almost like it's going to grind or it's catching on something. But there's no grinding noise when this occurs. Same story with the first gear issue.

My clutch pedal also creaks (which doesn't bother me much. I just hit it with a shot of WD40 every once in a while), but my car is out of the range of the TSB for this issue. I read a few other threads about this problem, but since my car is out of the range of the service bulletin, it shouldn't, theoretically, be affected by this issue.

I also seem to have a very temperamental clutch... If I don't slip it just the right way, the E will buck or shudder. I've been driving stick for years now (since I got my permit) and I know that this can't be me just being lackadaisical all the time. I know when it's my fault, but this seems to be indicating that my clutch is failing.

Can anyone offer me any help with this? Are these issues related? Is the transmission issue a problem with the syncros?

I just want to know what to expect, or how I should go about solving these problems. They're beginning to worry me. I've had the E back to my usual, local mechanic twice and asked him about the clutch and transmission, and he continually tells me there's nothing wrong. I beg to differ, considering I know it better than he does, and I drive it everyday... I want to keep my E around for a while, since I've discovered through trying 2 separate times to sell it that it's a much better and cheaper alternative to anything else out there in my price range. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I wonder if your shifting issue may be a bind in the cable end from corrosion where it attaches to the pin on the selector assembly (on the top of the transmission). These are two "banjo"-looking affairs, one lies flat and the other upright, each with a pin going through them, the "banjos" secured by a washer and a cotter key.

The flat one (on the left as you are looking at it from the front of the hood) corresponds to the up/down of the shift pattern, the upright banjo (on the right) selects which "leg" - you know, 1-2, 3-4, 5 - the left/right movement. If the cable on the left (up/down) is binding on its pin, it will try to bend the cable, and the cable will spring back, fighting you going into gear, both sides of neutral.

The inconsistency is to me the main clue. That it acts OK sometimes means it's not binding all the time. The best way to test this idea is squirt some WD-40 into the top center of the banjo, around where the pin with the cotter key emerges. Squirt the lube with the red straw to force it around the pin, move the shifter back and forth a few times, squirt again, then move it around again. If you were having the binding problem, shifting will be good for a little while.

If you get confirmation with this, the real solution is to remove the cotter key, washer and teflon gasket and then pull the banjo assembly off the pin. Clean up the pin and the center bushing of the banjo, lube with silicone grease, and put back together. It should shift crisply at this point.

The other banjo is not as susceptible to this problem because it is not oriented in a way which collects moisture. But if you find you have the bind in one, now's a good time to freshen the lubrication in the other.

I can't tell much you about the clutch yet. Let's eliminate the shifter bind first and that might help you with your perception of the clutch issue.
 

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I just replaced the clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing and pilot bearing in a buddy's Ranger for this exact problem. It was sporadic just like you describe.

The clutch disk was metal to metal, the flywheel had some overheating and minor heat cracks, a few fingers on the pressure plate were weak and the worst issue was that the pilot bearing was disintegrated. The needles were powdered and the pilot shaft was galled. Once all was replaced, it was flawless.

My assumption for the erratic behavior is that sometimes the input shaft was centered and sometimes it would get out of balance. I would be glad to hear anyone else's theory on this.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I wonder if your shifting issue may be a bind in the cable end from corrosion where it attaches to the pin on the selector assembly (on the top of the transmission). These are two "banjo"-looking affairs, one lies flat and the other upright, each with a pin going through them, the "banjos" secured by a washer and a cotter key.

The flat one (on the left as you are looking at it from the front of the hood) corresponds to the up/down of the shift pattern, the upright banjo (on the right) selects which "leg" - you know, 1-2, 3-4, 5 - the left/right movement. If the cable on the left (up/down) is binding on its pin, it will try to bend the cable, and the cable will spring back, fighting you going into gear, both sides of neutral.

The inconsistency is to me the main clue. That it acts OK sometimes means it's not binding all the time. The best way to test this idea is squirt some WD-40 into the top center of the banjo, around where the pin with the cotter key emerges. Squirt the lube with the red straw to force it around the pin, move the shifter back and forth a few times, squirt again, then move it around again. If you were having the binding problem, shifting will be good for a little while.

If you get confirmation with this, the real solution is to remove the cotter key, washer and teflon gasket and then pull the banjo assembly off the pin. Clean up the pin and the center bushing of the banjo, lube with silicone grease, and put back together. It should shift crisply at this point.

The other banjo is not as susceptible to this problem because it is not oriented in a way which collects moisture. But if you find you have the bind in one, now's a good time to freshen the lubrication in the other.

I can't tell much you about the clutch yet. Let's eliminate the shifter bind first and that might help you with your perception of the clutch issue.
Thanks so much Mike. I'm going to give this a look on Saturday and see if that's the problem. Hopefully, it will just be a matter of greasing it like you say.

Illustrating Mike's post:




Watson04, you didn't mention whether the transmission ever balks at shifting into gear when the engine is off. That would test the theory that the clutch isn't disengaging fully.
I do sometimes have a problem getting it into gear when the car is off. Not always though. Sometimes, it'll slip in and out of gear just fine. Others, it will fight me. Pressing the clutch sometimes solves that, but not always. Which is what makes me think its not just the clutch that is causing the problem. Every other car I've had would do this when parked too, but I attribute it to parking the car with the transmission in first gear. (As in, I pull into my spot, clutch in. Engage the parking brake, shut the car off and then release the clutch.) The car would usually move about a half inch as the brake and transmission catch, and pressing the clutch would let the shifter slip smoothly in and out of all gears without an issue. With the Element though, pressing the clutch only sometimes works. Which is why the reply from Flat Lander below makes me think it might be my clutch/pressure plate/bearing as well.

I just replaced the clutch, pressure plate, throw out bearing and pilot bearing in a buddy's Ranger for this exact problem. It was sporadic just like you describe.

The clutch disk was metal to metal, the flywheel had some overheating and minor heat cracks, a few fingers on the pressure plate were weak and the worst issue was that the pilot bearing was disintegrated. The needles were powdered and the pilot shaft was galled. Once all was replaced, it was flawless.

My assumption for the erratic behavior is that sometimes the input shaft was centered and sometimes it would get out of balance. I would be glad to hear anyone else's theory on this.
Your theory makes sense to me, but I am not an expert by any means. I've asked my mechanic to check the clutch several times, but he has always said that it was fine. I'm sending the car in to get some other work done, so I'm thinking I may just have him replace the clutch and associated goodies while it's there if for no other reason than preventative maintenance. I have the funds, so it's worth it to do it now rather than wait until it's really bad and/or I can't afford to do it.

From what I've dealt with in the past 2 years with this car, and what I've been discovering lately as I dive deeper into repairs and maintenance, it's clear to me that the previous owner(s) of poor Watson didn't give him the proper care and love he needed... :-(
 

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It can also be damaged synchronizer.
You wrote .....My clutch pedal also creaks- You must use a white spray grease, lubricate the tie rod connecting the pedal. WD-40 is not suitable for lubrication. Access is not easy.
 
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