Opinions please on whether this is a problem with the clutch or the tranny? - Jeep Wrangler Forum
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Old 11-09-2013, 11:44 PM   #1
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Opinions please on whether this is a problem with the clutch or the tranny?

Hi Folks,

I recently acquired a '99 TJ after selling my YJ. The TJ is a 1999 4.0 liter, 5 speed (AX-15) with 196k miles. I know nothing about the previous owner or the cars history. I am having issues with the shifting and don't know if it is the clutch or the tranny itself that is the culprit. My thoughts are that with the effort to replace the clutch it is not that much more effort to take the tranny out and rebuilt (a place around me charges $550 for a tranny rebuild if I take it out). I mean I would hate to go through the effort of replacing the clutch to realize that the problem is the tranny itself, but on the other hand don't want to spend the money to rebuild the tranny if it doesn't really need it.

Anyways, the symptoms are as follows:

Difficulty shifting into 2nd gear (yeah I know everyone with an AX-15 has a 2nd gear problem) and other gears without grinding. What I have to do is shift from first gear into 2nd gear at extremely low RPMS (like around 1300 rpms or below) and it will not grind. Shifting above 1500 rpms results in a grind with the clutch fully pressed in. Below 1500 rpms, maybe a little "crunch" when changing gears at worst, but about 90% of the time I can do it without grinding if I shift early.

Now the crunching also occasionally happens in other gears, like 3 or 4th as well. Not all the time, but every now and then. Usually happens after the car has warmed up and been driven a while. (I don't have a problem with the 2nd gear when the car is first started).

What is really really bothering me is not the crunching or grinding, but the inability to get into gear at all. I want to get this fixed because it is getting a bit dangerous when I have to try and put it into gear at a stoplight.

The symptoms when this happens (and it usually happens after the car has been warmed up and driven) is that it won't get into any gear at all. It's as if there is a lock on and the gear lever will not allow me to put it into the gear that I want. This happens both from a stop, and when I am in a gear and want to change gears (like going from 2nd to 3rd) and it just won't allow me to move the stick shift into the gear's place. The way to fix this is to push the stick into the position I want to go, and gently let up on the clutch a little bit while doing so. Sometimes it grinds, and sometimes it just goes into position. But it's basically letting off the clutch while pushing the stick into gear, until it "clicks" and then putting the clutch back in to change gear.

I am also having problems sometimes getting into first from a dead stop. Like I try to move it into 1st, and it is half way into first but doesn't go in all the way. Then when I let the clutch out, it pops out of gear. Then I press the clutch in and move it into gear.

Any opinions on what the cause is?

Thanks everyone.

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Old 11-10-2013, 12:07 AM   #2
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does your jeep have a transfer case drop?

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Old 11-10-2013, 01:18 AM   #3
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no, I don't think it does.
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Old 11-10-2013, 06:57 AM   #4
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To me, it sounds like the synchronizer sleeves in the transmission are worn out... Which could easily happen. 1. They're a soft metal (bronze, which is where the "gold dust" comes from in the bottom of some peoples transmission). 2. if you (or PO) put in a really harsh transmission fluid. Synchro gears are used to equalize the rpms of the main shaft/gears with the counter shaft. They're basically a ring that's tapered on the inside. As they wear out, that taper becomes less and less, until it's just a loose ring. And when you try and put it in gear, the shafts are spinning at different speeds and not aligned hence the grinding.

If the gears are not all the way engaged letting the clutch out could pop it back out of gear and into neutral (since the forks are paired with the syncros. one syncro/gear. One fork/two gears. So your First/Second fork moved the seperate first and second synchros). 2nd gear is the most used gear (at least for most people). If I were take a guess, I would say the order then goes 3rd, 1st, and 4rth. BUT some transmissions (idk if the ax15 is one) use a double toothed synchro gear for 1st making it much tougher than the rest.

Or I could be completely wrong leading you down a false rabbit hole. Hopefully someone much more knowledgeable/experienced will be able to help.
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Old 11-10-2013, 06:59 AM   #5
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Sounds like a clutch issue to me.
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Old 11-10-2013, 07:09 AM   #6
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FWIW (only posting because it would be WAY cheaper)

When I first got my '04 TJ it was a "Program car" from Chrysler and had about 22K. I purchased in Nov of '04. I do my best to keep my vehicles in top form, and believe that the fluids need to be as clean as reasonably possible. I had a "Quick Lube" type place change all my fluids in the spring of '05. Including the tranny fluid. they did not put what the manual called for because they didn't know...comedy of errors bad mistake I was as guilty as them. Bottom line the 3 blocks home it was fine. The next day the 6 blocks getting to the highway it was fine. I pull off the highway and major problems could hardly shift at all. (was on my way to work) I called the shop they said the would do some checking......called me back yeah wrong fluid had to get it from the dealer etc. Jeep was cold after working, it was fine shifting till I got on highway pulled in their shop they did drain and fill (used a vaccum tube to get fluid out) and Jeep has been fine every since. (over 165K on the clock)

My question any chance fluid could have been contaminated? can you do a drain and fill of the tranny? IMO these trannys are "picky" about the fluid they have, maybe yours has something it shouldn't. lot cheaper and easier than a clutch/ and tranny rebuild.
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:12 PM   #7
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Thank you for the responses. I think jp2611 has the best advice. I probably should start by flushing the tranny fluids as that is the easiest fix and start going from there. The tranny locked me out like 6 times in 40 miles today. It looks like it is getting worst.
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:03 AM   #8
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sounds like syncros to me ... fluid change wont hurt . .. but it may not help a whole lot either .. many non-"car people" don't think to change things like diff fluid and tranny/tcase fluid ... they seem to think oil,filter changes are the only maintence required on a vehicle ... we know better lol

don't think of it as removing the tranny to change the clutch ... think of it as removing the tranny to rebuild it, and throwing a clutch in at the same time , lol

$500 is a decent price for a rebuild.. ask what all it includes ... since the rebuild kit from q tec is nearly 500 it may be worth it for them to rebuild it .. especially if they offer a warranty

10w30 full synthetic is what our trannys need ... some use redline mt-90 ... I wouldn't recommend that to you since you may need a rebuild anyways (redline is costly)

also now would be a goodtime to look for a tranny on craigslist ... they can be had for 200-300 .... less than the cost of a rebuild ... and youll have a spare that you can have rebuilt slowly and saved for a rainy day
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:20 AM   #9
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have you tried shifting using rev matching instead of depressing the clutch ..... if it shifts fine while rev matching than it would seemingly be a clutch issue
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Old 11-11-2013, 12:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brs256 View Post

also now would be a goodtime to look for a tranny on craigslist ... they can be had for 200-300 .... less than the cost of a rebuild ... and youll have a spare that you can have rebuilt slowly and saved for a rainy day
unfortunately I am a recovering automotive/motorcycle parts hoarder. Like looking on craigslist and buying parts just because "well it's a good price". So I have tons of spare parts in the garage that I am now trying to get rid of. Last thing I need is another transmission sitting in the garage. LOL.

The $550 is from a shop with 25 years experience and they have a 1 year warranty. At 196k miles I had budgeted fixes into the purchase price, I was just hoping to get a few more years before doing major work.
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Old 11-11-2013, 01:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by submaniac View Post
unfortunately I am a recovering automotive/motorcycle parts hoarder. Like looking on craigslist and buying parts just because "well it's a good price". So I have tons of spare parts in the garage that I am now trying to get rid of. Last thing I need is another transmission sitting in the garage. LOL.

The $550 is from a shop with 25 years experience and they have a 1 year warranty. At 196k miles I had budgeted fixes into the purchase price, I was just hoping to get a few more years before doing major work.
in that case I would do a fluid change and if that dosnt help, promptly rebuild

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