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Old 08-05-2015, 10:39 PM
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Stiff clutch pedal after AX15 transmission replacement on 97 Jeep Wrangler

Hi,
Just swapped out my AX15 transmission on my 97 Jeep Wrangler. After I completed the job, with the engine off, I was able to shift through the gears without issue. I pressed the clutch pedal and it was easy the first few times then became extremely stiff. I removed the external slave cylinder from the bell housing and manually pushed in the clutch fork with my finger. The fork moved forward easily, then I heard something fall inside the bell housing. I pulled the tranny back off and found the clutch fork retaining clip had fallen off. I proceeded to put it back in place ensuring it was secured. After attaching the tranny back on, I tested the clutch pedal which appeared to operate normally (engine off) as well as ensuring I could shift through the gears without issue. I then continued with attaching the rest of the harnesses, transfer case, etc.. I fired up the engine and heard a knocking sound which appeared to be coming from the external slave cylinder area. As I depressed the clutch, the knocking stopped. I turned off the engine, removed the slave cylinder and had my wife press on the clutch pedal. It became stiff again. I pulled the transmission again and the clutch fork retaining clip was still secured. This is where I have left off for the night. I plan on bleeding the master / slave cylinder system tomorrow and see if that fixes the issue with the stiff clutch pedal. Some questions:

1) How far should I be able to press in the clutch fork manually with the external slave cylinder removed from the bell housing?
2) Should the clutch fork return after being depressed manually (like a spring) with the external slave cylinder removed from the bell housing (mine didn't. After pressing on the clutch fork, it remained in the position I had pushed it to).
2) Should the clutch pedal move freely with the external slave cylinder removed from the bell housing?
3) Could it be the throw-out bearing? It appears to be ok from visual inspection, it slides along the transmission shaft easily, the springs are all intact.

Any suggestions would be welcomed.
Thanks.

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Old 08-06-2015, 08:01 AM   #2
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1) The "retaining clip" is actually the clutch return spring which keeps the throwout bearing out of contact with the pressure plate when the clutch pedal is up. There will be some amount of free travel in the release arm with the slave cylinder out just because the slave rod is what holds the release arm closer to the pressure plate. Once the throw out bearing contacts the pressure plate, it will take considerably more force than your finger can muster to release the clutch.

2) The return spring is light duty and will not return the release arm to fully rearward with the slave cylinder removed because it is not meant to return it that far back.

2b) The clutch pedal should be easy to push with the slave cylinder out, and unless one is being careful, can easily blow the slave cylinder apart.

3) If the throwout bearing is all intact (check the ears that the release arm rides against and make sure they are not broken), I would check the hydraulics for proper operation first. If you determine it is a hydraulic issue, I highly recommend that you buy the whole thing as a unit, master, slave and interconnecting line prefilled and prebled. This is the way it was meant to be by the factory, and since you won't know which actual part is the issue, it could be more cost effective in the long run.

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Old 08-06-2015, 09:00 AM
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Thanks Water Dog. What could have made the knocking sound that stopped when the clutch pedal was depressed?
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:14 AM   #4
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Thanks Water Dog. What could have made the knocking sound that stopped when the clutch pedal was depressed?
It's hard to tell. It depends on what was working at that point in time. If the clutch was actually disengaging, the only thing that would not be turning at time you depress the clutch would be the input shaft on the transmission which would leave one to believe input shaft bearing.
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Old 08-06-2015, 05:32 PM
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Update ***. I manually bled the slave cylinder by pointing the piston down and pushing the rod in about 20 times. No air bubbles were detected in the clutch master cylinder. I then pressed the clutch pedal and it went all the way to the floor once and came back up. I then tried to press the clutch pedal again and it was stiff again. Did this twice. Thinking it might be the hydraulic system. Anything else it might be?
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:14 PM
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Adding some pics of the clutch assembly, throw-out bearing, fork and retaining clip.
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Old 08-07-2015, 08:12 AM   #7
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Was the slave reinstalled when you pushed on the pedal?

If not, it is definitely hydraulic.

If so, it is either hydraulic or it is likely something is broken inside the pressure plate (spring?) and getting hung up so the fingers cannot be pushed in.
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Old 08-07-2015, 09:53 AM
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Thanks again for the reply Water Dog. The slave was not installed in the bell housing. I can see the hydraulic level rise/fall in the master clutch cylinder when pushing the rod of the clutch slave cylinder back and forth. So the line is clear of any clogging. I'm thinking it's the clutch master cylinder (maybe the spring inside of the master clutch busted) as after I bled the hydraulic system, the clutch pedal goes to the floor once only and stays hard afterward so no fluid is being passed to the slave. Hope I'm thinking this out straight. If it is the master clutch, would it be better to replace it only or go for the master/slave combo (pre-filled, sealed).
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Old 08-07-2015, 01:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mjeep01 View Post
Thanks again for the reply Water Dog. The slave was not installed in the bell housing. I can see the hydraulic level rise/fall in the master clutch cylinder when pushing the rod of the clutch slave cylinder back and forth. So the line is clear of any clogging. I'm thinking it's the clutch master cylinder (maybe the spring inside of the master clutch busted) as after I bled the hydraulic system, the clutch pedal goes to the floor once only and stays hard afterward so no fluid is being passed to the slave. Hope I'm thinking this out straight. If it is the master clutch, would it be better to replace it only or go for the master/slave combo (pre-filled, sealed).
It could be either, and if you just buy one at a time, you will come out on the loosing end if your luck is anything like mine. I suggest you go for it as a unit, that way it takes out all the guesswork.... questions about whether it's fully bled, which part is faulty, etc. Plus you're starting with a completely new hydraulic system.
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Old 08-07-2015, 05:11 PM
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Yep. Gonna get that done this weekend. I'm swapping out the entire thing. Keep you guys posted. Thanks for the advice.

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