Question about 2004 Ford Ranger

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Noisy shifting. Driveline clunk, noisy clutch,

Hello, I have a 2004 Ford Ranger FX4 5-speed manual transmission 4.0L.

I just purchased this vehicle used this week and the previous owners supplied me with the vehicles maintenance history from when they bought it. The vehicle has 122Km or 76,000Miles on it. The problem is everytime I shift gears there is a light clunking noise similar to gear backlash coming from the drive line. To me it sounds like its coming from the transmission. It not only does this after shifting, but also while driving if you "****" the vehicle by removing your foot from the throttle and then hitting it on and off it does the same thing.
I looked through all the maintenance records and they had brought it to the Ford Dealer twice for the issue while under warranty. The first time it says in big bold text "No faults found". About ten thousand Km later it was brought in again and this time the dealer replaced one of the transmission mounts. Also they had the clutch replaced twice the last time was at 92000km and about a year ago.
Anyway I have tried to find this here on the internet and I have only found one complaint to NHTSB concerning one vehicle of this problem the complaint number is 100995613.

Anyone know what could be causing this? I know it is not the ujoints and I briefly inspected the mounts. No vibrations or anything while driving just this. Also the previous owners parked the vehicle in gear almost always without using the parking brake. Could they have caused the gear train in the transmission to some how shift since it took all the weight of the vehicle? Any and all information would help. I knwo there is a tsb on changing grease in the slip yoke but it is not this. Thank you.

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  • sinester72 Jul 15, 2010

    Thank you for the response. Yes, I have driven tractor trailers and straight trucks. Are you sure this is normal? This is my third Ranger now, the other 2 have been automatic 2wd.

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If you put a car in first gear(manual/engine off)and try pushing it,it will move about 1/2"front/rear,that is because there is a certain amount of play in the transmision(wheels to engine)which is more pronounced on semi off road vehicles/pickups.if you are used to a normal car this can be a weird feeling/noise,but it is very NORMAL.
all the tolerances/rubber bushes/clutch springs,have movement and this movement is the source of the clunk.(have you driven a semi trailer or 18 wheeler?????)

Posted on Jul 15, 2010

  • geoff hunter Jul 15, 2010

    an auto box will not give the "jerkyness"as it allows a certain amount of give to "soften the blow so to speak"if you were to drive,say,an old mini,every time you take your foot off or accelerate your head nods like a dog....(try driving a stick shift range rover then an auto)and to add to my comments a limo type car is built to be soft in the take up and deceleration so you dont feel it at all.(the harder the mounts/springs/bushes the more pronounced it is.....

    regards

    geoff

    england.

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No one can tell you what it is.This is the operating characteristic of your transmission and customer do object to the noise or clunk and dealer discourage the repair. This is TSB 03-07-29-004G. Let me give you a partial copy. INFORMATION
Bulletin No.: 03-07-29-004G
Date: December 15, 2010
Subject: Manual Transmission Operating Characteristics
Cold Operation
Manual transmission operation will be affected by temperature because the transmission fluid will be thicker when cold. The thicker fluid will increase the amount of force needed to shift the transmission when cold. The likelihood of gear clash will also increase due to the greater time needed for the synchronizer assembly to perform its function. Therefore when the transmission is cold, or before it has reached operating temperature, quick, hard shifts should be avoided to prevent damage to the transmission.
Backlash
Backlash noise is created when changing engine or driveline loading. This can occur when accelerating from a stop, coming to a stop, or applying and releasing the throttle (loading and unloading the driveline). This will vary based on vehicle type, build variations, driver input, vehicle loading, etc. and is created from the necessary clearance between all of the mating gears in the transmission, axle(s) and transfer case (if equipped).
Shift Effort
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Non-Synchronized Gears
Some light duty truck transmissions in 1st gear (creeper-gear) and reverse gears in various transmissions, along with all gears in some medium duty transmissions, may be non-synchronized. This means there is not a mechanism to match input and output shaft speeds to allow for a smooth shift. This function is left up to the driver. This can be noticed if a shift into 1st or reverse is attempted while the vehicle is rolling or before the input shaft stops rotating leading to a gear grind. The grinding can be reduced by coming to a complete stop and pausing for a moment before shifting into the 1st or reverse gear. Some slight grinding can be expected. In medium duty non-synchronized transmissions, the driver must match input shaft (engine) speed to output shaft (driveshaft) speed with every shift. This can be accomplished by double clutching, or by using other methods. If the driver is not able to perform this function properly, there will be gear grinding with each improperly completed shift. Driver training may be required to correct this condition. Clutch brakes are used in medium duty non-synchronized transmissions to allow a shift into gear at a stop. The clutch brake is used to stop the input shaft from spinning, allowing a shift into gear at a stop without grinding. The clutch brake is activated by pressing the clutch pedal all the way to the floor. When the clutch brake is used, it is possible to have a blocked shift with the vehicle stationary. If this occurs, engage the clutch slightly to rotate the input gear to allow the shift. The clutch brake is intended to only be used while at a stop. Care must be taken to not activate the clutch brake while shifting between gears. This could lead to excessive grinding or a blocked or missed shift.

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Ford ranger, getting harder to shift into gear


Suggest you check the fluid level of the transmission first. Remove the fill plug, and see if it is Below the proper level. Do Not fill at this time! There is a reason for this.

Then I would suggest draining the fluid. You are also looking for brass fragments in the fluid. Drain into a three quart metal, or plastic drain pan. (They are approximately 18 inches across, and 4 inches deep)

1.Manual transmissions use Synchronizer's made of a brass alloy. The synchronizers have tapered teeth, that the nose of the teeth can be worn down. Also a tapered surface on the synchronizer, that can be worn down. Brass fragments in the transmission fluid is a sign of this wear.

Some brass 'dust' will occur as normal wear. A large accumulation means you have problems. Transmission is hard to shift, is one of those symptoms due to this.

This link to an animated working of a five-speed manual transmission, may help to explain how the components interact with each other, and also help me to explain the Synchronizer/s.
(From Howstuffworks.com - Auto- Under the Hood - Transmissions and Drivetrain)

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/transmission3.htm

Looking at the animation, observe the 'gold' colored parts. In particular, observe the the pair of gold colored teeth at the rear. (The teeth are in a vertical row, going up and down)

Now also observe the blue colored teeth next to them, on either side. (On the spinning gears)
You are looking at a side view of the transmission, and also a side view of the Synchronizers.

The synchronizers are round just like the gears. They have a Female tapered surface where they meet the gear. The gear has a Male tapered surface on the outside of the gear, that matches.

When the female tapered surface of the synchronizer meets the male tapered surface of the gear, the friction contact makes the synchronizer start turning the same speed, as the gear.

Helps the gear being shifted into start turning also, and the - teeth of the synchronizer, - gear to be engaged, and - already turning components are synchronized to each other. They will be all turning the same speed, so shifting will be smooth.

This shows you Synchronizer rings for a 4-speed Muncie transmission,

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/MUNCIE-4-SPEED-BRASS-SYNCHRONIZER-RINGS-1963-TO-1974_W0QQitemZ360137693405QQcmdZViewItem?rvr_id=&itemid=360137693405

Enlarge it for a better view.
See the teeth going around the synchronizer ring? Notice that they are pointed, or V shaped. When the nose, or tip of this V is worn down, a manual transmission is hard to shift.

Also observe the flat landing on top. (In this view it's on top) The flat landing has three rectangular cutouts in it. (There are used for Detents)

Come from that top landing, down the side to the teeth. This Side has a tapered surface. Tapered ever so slightly, that it is not readily visible in this photo.
When this tapered surface wears down, the transmission is hard to shift.

Summation?
1.Low fluid will cause hard shifting. It will also cause abnormally high wear of the synchronizer rings, (Synchronizer Rings are also referred to as 'Blocker Rings')

2.Worn Synchronizer Rings,
Broken or worn Detent 'buttons',
Broken Detent Springs,
and worn Synchronizer Hub's,
will cause hard shifting.

Should you not have an abnormal amount of brass shavings in your transmission fluid, and found the fluid to be low, you may want to just replace the fluid to the proper level, and see if this works first.

If so, I suggest contacting your Ford dealer, and see what the proper transmission fluid is for YOUR Ford Ranger. They will go by THE transmission is used in your truck, and will have any updates if better fluid has been developed since your truck was made.

I know dealers are expensive to buy from sometimes, but I implore you to use the transmission fluid they recommend.
It will have special additives.



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