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Discussion Starter #1
I am hoping someone can help shed some more light on my situation before I begin to dump money into parts that don't fix my problem. Driving home from work yesterday, my Jeep's clutch suddenly stopped working properly. I am not terribly experienced with mechanical aspects of vehicles, but from my understanding, the clutch is not disengaging when I depress the pedal - seems to me like the clutch master and/or slave cylinders are to blame, but I want to get a few more opinions before just replacing it.

The Jeep:
2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ
5 Speed NV3550 Manual Transmission
4.0L Inline 6 with 116,000 miles
Dana 44 rear, 30 front with stock gears
1" Body Lift and 2" coil spacer lift with ~1" TC drop
JK OEM 17" wheels with 32" SR-A tires

The Story

I drove to work in the morning with no issues, everything felt fine and normal. Lunch break I drove a few miles to pick up food, still fine. On my way home, a couple of miles into my drive, I made a right turn at a stoplight, and misjudged how fast the car that I pulled out in front of was going. I accelerated a bit faster than normal, and stayed in 2nd gear for longer than usual - I may have hit 3000-3500 RPM before I shifted. As I was accelerating, I looked in my rear view mirror and am pretty sure I saw some greyish/white smoke, though it *could* have just been dust flying up from the shoulder of the road.

As I shifted to 3rd and 4th, the clutch felt strange. Normally I feel the clutch begin to disengage with the pedal 1/3 to 1/2 way in, but now it felt like I had to push it nearly all the way to make the clutch even begin to disengage. Shortly after the initial turn, I needed to make another and was stopped at a stoplight. I noticed that with the Jeep in gear, if I even let the clutch pedal off the stopper a tiny bit, the Jeep lurched forward as if I had completely released the pedal. I also began to hear a clunking/popping sound whenever I depressed/released the clutch, and there was a wavering or intermittent amount of pedal pressure throughout the travel of the pedal.

I got a green light, and made my turn, tried to shift into 2nd and it just didn't want to go! I finally got it, but 3rd was just as hard. I decided to pull over and check things out. I didn't see anything leaking from the master or slave, and nothing seemed overly loose or broken. The clunking/popping when the clutch is pressed is not every time, but almost. I was still about 15-20 miles from home, but I was able to get it into gears even though it was difficult. I limped home and parked her in my driveway, crawled under and started inspecting a bit more. I unscrewed the cap to the master cylinder and there was plenty of fluid, and nothing seemed to be leaking. I started it back up, and I now can't even get it into a gear. If I depress the clutch pedal, I can hear and feel a slight grinding through the pedal - the clutch doesn't seem to be doing anything now!

While driving home, everything felt fine when I was actually in a gear; no grinding or slipping. With the engine off I can easily shift into any gear. Does this sound like the hydraulic system? The clutch pedal still springs back, so there has to be some pressure there, and it honestly is just about as hard to press as it always was. After researching on here and other places, I am still unsure if the master/slave cylinders are to blame or if I have a more serious problem on my hands...:banghead:

Any help is much appreciated!
 

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I had the same thing. Just unbolt your slave cylinder and very slowly pull it out of your transmission. I bet the push rod broke the plastic casing holding it in place. Carefully pull it out because if the rod falls in, you have to take your tranny out... I had this problem, luckily I was replacing my clutch and pulled it all open anyways. Just pull it out and I'm sure you will see it. The only way to know is by pulling the cylinder out. Let me know how it goes. There are other possibilities, but this is the one I can almost promise you it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Awesome, thanks for the quick reply. I don't have my tools at home, so I will probably take the wife's Jeep down to work and grab my tools and then crack it open.

So I assume I will have to buy a replacement casing if this is the case, any idea what the part is called, or where I can get one?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well, I found a 13mm wrench and took the slave out. The pushrod is very loose and can swivel around - seems like I can even pull it all the way out of it's rubber sleeve if I wanted to. I assume this is what you meant? So if I replace just the slave cylinder and bleed the system, all should be good? Or do I have to replace the whole hydraulic system?

Here's a few pics of what I pulled out of the transmission.


 

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Discussion Starter #5
Update:

I had my wife push the clutch pedal in while I pushed the pushrod in as hard as I could. The clutch pedal certainly made the pushrod move out, but only a bit farther than half of it's total travel. Once she had the pedal floored, I let pressure off the pushrod and it sprung out a bit farther. Am I correct in my assumption that the pushrod should travel it's entire distance out when the clutch pedal is floored?

I am going to call around parts stores today and get some prices for the master/slave system - I found it on Morris 4x4 for $170 and free shipping, but I really need the Jeep fixed ASAP. From what I've found, does it sound like replacing the hydraulic system would fix my problem?

Again, any help is appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Any update on the problem/fix? I'm having a similar issue.
Well, I replaced my master\slave cylinder with no change. I bit the bullet and dropped my transmission to investigate, and as soon as the trans was off the motor I found a destroyed pressure plate. The throw-out bearing had completely worn away the teeth on the pressure plate, allowing the bearing to slide past it and press directly on the clutch plate. I replaced my clutch with a Luk clutch kit, and all was well. Dropping the trans wasn't quite as hard as I was anticipating, but still not really an "easy" fix.
 

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Congrats! How was putting the tranny back in? I had a pain in the rear getting mine in but I used two floor jacks instead of a tranny jack.
Getting it off was a breeze!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Getting it back in wasn't too bad, just a bit of jack positioning/re-positioning... I didn't use a trans jack either, though I did separate the t-case from the trans, so there was less weight all at once. Once I got the jack and trans lined up right, the trans input shaft slid right in without too much difficulty; I think getting the engine at the right angle is the key there. All in all, it really was much easier than I thought - I think the hardest part was getting the shift lever off the trans... Chrysler decided not to use the standard push and twist mechanism on the NV3550 for some reason. The method they used was a pain in the rear and probably took me the longest to figure out. This thread was pretty helpful if someone else is struggling with the same thing.
 

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Hope I never have to do it again but if I do, I might have to remove the transfer case. I actually ended up putting the tranny on my chest and lifting and wiggling until it slid on. The transfer case with two jacks was a pain!
Again, congrats and glad your rolling again
 

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Well, I replaced my master\slave cylinder with no change. I bit the bullet and dropped my transmission to investigate, and as soon as the trans was off the motor I found a destroyed pressure plate. The throw-out bearing had completely worn away the teeth on the pressure plate, allowing the bearing to slide past it and press directly on the clutch plate. I replaced my clutch with a Luk clutch kit, and all was well. Dropping the trans wasn't quite as hard as I was anticipating, but still not really an "easy" fix.[/QUOTE

I'm somewhat mechanically inclined but dropping the tranny might be too big of a job for me to handle. Something in my clutch doesn't seem right and i'm having a hard time trying to figure out the problem. I really have to ride the clutch just to pull out of the driveway. When i'm stopped and press the clutch pedal, I can hear a clunking noise from the clutch. Any ideas on how or what I can do to diagnose the problem?
 

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Well, I replaced my master\slave cylinder with no change. I bit the bullet and dropped my transmission to investigate, and as soon as the trans was off the motor I found a destroyed pressure plate. The throw-out bearing had completely worn away the teeth on the pressure plate, allowing the bearing to slide past it and press directly on the clutch plate. I replaced my clutch with a Luk clutch kit, and all was well. Dropping the trans wasn't quite as hard as I was anticipating, but still not really an "easy" fix.[/QUOTE

I'm somewhat mechanically inclined but dropping the tranny might be too big of a job for me to handle. Something in my clutch doesn't seem right and i'm having a hard time trying to figure out the problem. I really have to ride the clutch just to pull out of the driveway. When i'm stopped and press the clutch pedal, I can hear a clunking noise from the clutch. Any ideas on how or what I can do to diagnose the problem?
If you are hearing noises when you use your clutch, it is typically a clutch (mechanical) issue and not a hydraulic one. At that point, it really doesn't make a difference whether it's a throw out bearing, a pressure plate, or a clutch plate, because it all means you have to drop the transmission and install a clutch kit anyway. My son and I just replaced the clutch in his "98" and it took the two of us about 6 hours. If you do decide to do it, do yourself a favor, and stop by a Jeep dealer and buy a "clutch release fork return spring" before you start. They don't come with the kit, and chances are good that yours will not be reusable.
 

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Are you talking about the release bearing Water Dog?
No, there's a little spring clip that holds the passenger side of the release bearing arm against the ball that it pivots on. (See picture) It usually is brittle by the time the clutch needs replacing and the legs easily break off when trying to remove it. If it is not reinstalled (or something else to hold the arm back) then every time you push the clutch in you'll hear a bang sound as that lever slams back against that ball.

If you by a "clutch Kit" such as the LUK, it will come with the pressure plate, clutch plate, release (or throw out) bearing, pilot bearing, and alignment tool. The only other part you will most likely really need is that return spring.

BTW, Partsgeek.com has about the best deals on LUK clutches that I've seen.
 

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I reused my spring but wish I had replaced it. The spring was fine but seemed a little rusty. I didn't even know where the spring went at first. I found the spring when putting everything back together! However, I did install properly due to a little luck and just putting it where it looked like it belonged.
I agree, if u do the job, replace that sorry little spring
 
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