How does one know for sure that the problem is the slave cylinder if the transmission won't go into gear? There are no leaks visible. If the problem is the clutch, wouldn't it buck and **** before it goes out?
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Re: slave cylinder not working
Not always, You can check your hydraulics, get a buddy to put thier foot on the clutch pedal and you look under the truck to see if the clutch actuator is moving. if it is moving enough to engage the clutch, then pull the transmission and check the clutch. not difficult but heavy if 4 whell drive.
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It's your hydraulic clutch system that probably isn't working. When you press the clutch pedal down, it causes the clutch master cylinder to put pressure in the line to the transmission's little "slave cylinder" that operates the clutch inside the transmission bell housing. This disengages the engine from the transmission so you can shift gears. It's probably not putting the slave cylinder to work by hydraulic pressure. The clutch master cylinder is mounted on the firewall, similar to the brake master cylinder, the clutch cylinder has a reservoir and you may need to add brake fluid to it. If it is dry, then you will need the system bled at the slave cylinder by a pro or someone who understands how. Pretty simple, really, just like bleeding brakes. Also the clutch master cylinder can develop internal leaks and this will lead to loss of clutch.
When there is an issue with a manual gear box not working after a clutch replacement I am always suspicious that the clutch plate has been fitted the wrong way and the crank bolts are fowling on the cluch plate center . If the gear box was fine before and i now faulty I would go to what was done with the clutch. Also check that the clutck slave cylinder is working ok.
Have you just replaced the clutch? Taken out the transaxle, and put it back in? Are you sure transmission was in good condition before this? If so, review your procedure carefully to be sure you got it all back right. Watch the slave cylinder while someone depresses clutch. You should see the little plunger move slightly out and move the clutch lever back. The lever moves the release bearing inside bell housing into contact with the pressure plate. If slave cylinder doesn't move at all, try bleeding again. The plunger has to move when clutch is engaged. I'm not sure what you mean by "will shift but won't go into gear". You mean it's actually going into a gear position and car won't move? Or it won't go into any gear, period. As if you had no clutch?
That cylinder is known as the clutch slave cylinder. It should push against the clutch fork every time the clutch pedal is depressed to allow gear changes. If it doesn't, suspect a faulty slave cylinder, or clutch master cylinder.
The solution is pretty cut-and-dry. Fix the fluid leak and your transmission will go into gear. I don't know what to tell you to fix exactly because I do not know where it is leaking from. If it is leaking from the slave cylinder, replace the slave cylinder; If it is leaking from the master cylinder, replace the master cylinder, etc.
Fixing just one part of the clutch may not be the best option for you however. Clutch parts seem to wear out all within a few thousand miles of one-another. Depending on how many miles are on your vehicle you may want to do a complete clutch replacement so you won't have any further clutch problems for several years.
I thought the 4.9 has a conventional slave cylinder mounted to the exterior of the bell housing?
I am not sure about the 4.9 but I know the 5.0 has an internal slave cylinder, and unfortunately you must remove the transmission to replace it. The slave cylinder is mounted around the input shaft in a complete circle and there is no other way to remove it. You say your transmission is a 5 speed so I am pretty sure the slave cylinder is an internal one.