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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
2001 XL-7, 5 speed. 205,000 miles, normally well-cared for, 1 owner. This was my daily driver for the first 190k miles and now my son uses it.

Last fall was difficult to shift, and found the clutch fluid low, filled it up and didn't think more of it. A couple weeks ago he was having a real hard time shifting, brought it into the mechanic, and he discovered a leaky master cylinder. Replaced that and everything was great for about 5 days. He drove to the movies and when he came out it was acting the same as before the master cylinder was replaced. He drove to work and after sitting overnight, he couldn't get it into any gear when the engine was running. Shifts smooth with the car off. Brought it back to the mechanic, he tried bleeding it (he says about 4 cans of brake fluid) but couldn't make it act any better. He suspected the clutch itself, but seemed odd to me that 1.It would just die like that and 2.Clutch only had 12k miles on it. So anyway we had the slave cylinder replaced, and it was no different.

When it's on the lift, he can see everything (hydraulics) moving properly, and when it's in gear, the wheels spin, so clearly it's not disengaging. Going into 1st gear or reverse behave exactly the same, which he said eliminates it being the synchros (no synchros for reverse)

He had a tranny guy look at it and they both suspected a broken spring in the clutch, so we went forward with it and replaced the clutch. Sadly, there was nothing glaringly wrong once he got in there. Only thing visible were the fingers on the old pressure plate weren't as "springed up" as the new Luke clutch. Popped it all back together again and he couldn't get the peddle to feel "quite right", but eventually got it to the point where he thought was the best it was going to be. He did some McGyver stuff with the push rod to help improve the condition of free play in the pedal.

We got it back yesterday, drove it all around and it seemed fine. My son drove it to work last night, no problem, comes out this morning and it's back to just as bad as before the slave cylinder was replaced. Can't shift anything with the car running.

I got in the car (with it off) and pumped the clutch pedal about 20 times, and it started right up and she behaved just fine.

I suspect that there's air in the line? Love to hear your thoughts and opinions. He's put about 10 cans of brake fluid through it at this point, trying to get the air out - any other ideas? If it was a DOA Master Cylinder (or weak) could it be intermittent like this? Could there be a pinhole somewhere, pulling air in (we don't SEE any leaks)? It definitely seems worst after it's been sitting in the cold for several hours. I also found this in the forum regarding replacing a clutch;
"take a very close look at the clutch fork, they usually wear & crack around the pivot." - Which sounds expensive now that it's all back together - would that behave like this?

When he was test driving it (about 20 times yesterday) he said that every once in a while he couldn't shift it right and would have to multi-pump the pedal to get it "back" properly - But then he always could.

He's an excellent mechanic we've been going to for about 20yrs so it's not a matter of ability or trying to rip us off. And I'm sure he'd LOVE to get it fixed, we just can't figure it out.

Taking it back on Monday, but if there's any little tricks we can try over the weekend, I happily will! Thank you!
 

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Great detail. Thanks.

I'd almost bet a failed Master Cylinder, even though it has been replaced before.

Air in the system is pretty easy to rectify if that WAS the problem. In this case not, IMO. And internal clutch mechanical failures are typically all in, not intermittent.
 

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99 Tracker, 5 door, 2L, 4x4
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X2 on the master cylinder,

Remove the tube exiting the MC and install a plug, depress pedal, should be rock hard.
If not there is an internal leak..

Bench bleed the New MC before installing..

Best to pressure bleed these systems from the bottom-> top..

.... Philip
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You guys were dead on. After 2 Slave cylinders and 3 master cylinders, she's back on the road and better than it's been in a while. The story goes ... particularly for older vehicles and/or low demand parts, they're sitting on the shelf longer and potentially subject to seals drying out etc. For the 3rd one, he switched mfgs and there was an INSTANT difference, had it done in 10mins. Happily his parts dealer made him whole on parts and labor so thats cool. She's all back together and happy again. PHEW!!

Holding my breath for the slave ... not sure that's as complex as the master cylinder.

Thanks for the help!
 
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