fluid becoming black and losing pressure

Asked by Gilbert5457 Mar 03, 2020 at 06:12 PM about the 2000 Ford Ranger XL Extended Cab SB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have Ford Ranger 2000 and every 3 to 4 months ,I get clutch problems. I have been replacing master, slave ,master and slave together. I still Have the same issue. i.e fluid becoming black and losing pressure.
Can somebody help. tkanks
Gilbert

3 Answers

Black DOT3 isn't something you should worry about unless it's cloudy or has debris in it. Darkening of the fluid is actually normal with cheaper brands. The cheaper the manufacturing or brand, the faster it will darken. Heat and oxidation will both also darken it (Oxidation is normal and unavoidable whether it is in the brake lines or the clutch). Depending on what you mean by pressure loss, there are a wide array of different issues you could be having. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down the cause: Does it coincide with warmer weather? Does it coincide with colder weather? If yes, there is a possible issue with the materials or there is air in the hydraulics somewhere. A leak could also be present. Is the fluid clear, cloudy, or is there particulate? Clear is normal and should be crystal clear when it goes in and a very, very, very pale light amber color that isn't really noticeable. Air exposure will darken the fluid and if there is enough of it, the fluid will turn but doesn't always turn cloudy in this environment. Cloudy can signal a very slight leak between the transmission and slave cylinder which could be improper install or manufacturer defects. It can also signal the fluid has expired quite rapidly due to excessive heat. Particulate can signal a breakdown of the materials, a leak, or contamination of the fluid from other outside sources. Another possibility is water contamination of the fluid but I'm not sure the visual affects of that. The pressure loss ... If the pedal is not bouncing back after being pressed - this is a serious problem and definite loss of pressure. You should have a (different) mechanic evaluate when it is a symptom. it could be bad manufacturing, improper installation, etc. Long story short, the hydraulics are 100% shot and a mechanic should be called in to evaluate. If the pressure loss is just difficulty moving the shifter into gear - it may or may not be pressure loss. it could be a tiny air bubble or air buildup in the line from improper install, not being bled enough - even prebled parts should be bled a little from the slave to be safe, It could be you have a small leak that is letting air in (improper install or poor manufacturing can cause this too), it could be your shifter itself is wearing out, which letting it sit for a day or two, or longer, could cause it to seemingly resolve for a bit (this isn't likely the issue but temperature could be a factor in how often it happens). If it's your shifter, you won't notice grinding of your gears. Another possible cause is your Synchronizers are wearing out very slowly but not fast enough to cause noticeable grinding of the gears or the grinding is intermittent and you may chalk it up to user error. The issue here is you're getting build up from metal shavings in the fluid and it's overwhelming your magnet or your magnet is worn out and not grabbing the debris effectively. This isn't likely the cause - normally it's a bad clutch or air in the hydraulics is mistaken for bad synchronizers, not the other way around - had four people tell me my synchs were bad on my 1996 Ranger with the same transmission as yours but it turns out, I just have a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of air in the line and a possible minor issue with my shifter itself. Grinding of the gears while in gear but the clutch in - this is a sign that the hydraulics are losing pressure or debris in the trans. The hydraulics could be losing pressure from a leak, bad slave, bad master, air in the hydraulics, etc. If they are failing, they haven't failed enough to be inoperable, but it could happen at any time. the air could have just moved into a bad place if there is air present from the install. this is true if it resolves on its own. Clutch pedal is bouncing back BUT if in gear with the clutch in, and it jumps and starts moving causing you to quickly shut it off - the slave or master is not functioning AT ALL. One or both is/are shot, or one or both is/are dry or filled with a lot of air. The question at that point is, which is it and why? I'm not a mechanic, but my master cylinder went dry due to being told some bad information. My hydraulics were improperly bled afterward (Never let anyone tell you that a model cannot be bled from the slave - especially a Ranger. This is BS - there is a bleed valve on the slave. My brother made that claim which I later found to be untrue. I still need it bled and have intermittent issues from air in the line ever since. If it was my hydraulics being bad, or my transmission was bad, I wouldn't be able to still drive it. The issue has been intermittent for almost two years since the master went dry, and is as of yet unfixed because I can't find someone to bleed it without paying an arm and a leg - corrosion issue which isn't unusual unfortunately and it needs cleaned off before it can be bled without damaging the slave).

Black DOT3 isn't something you should worry about unless it's cloudy or has debris in it. Darkening of the fluid is actually normal with cheaper brands. The cheaper the manufacturing or brand, the faster it will darken. Heat and oxidation will both also darken it (Oxidation is normal and unavoidable whether it is in the brake lines or the clutch). Depending on what you mean by pressure loss, there are a wide array of different issues you could be having. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down the cause: Does it coincide with warmer weather? Does it coincide with colder weather? If yes, there is a possible issue with the materials or there is air in the hydraulics somewhere. A leak could also be present. Is the fluid clear, cloudy, or is there particulate? Clear is normal and should be crystal clear when it goes in and a very, very, very pale light amber color that isn't really noticeable. Air exposure will darken the fluid and if there is enough of it, the fluid will turn but doesn't always turn cloudy in this environment. Cloudy can signal a very slight leak between the transmission and slave cylinder which could be improper install or manufacturer defects. It can also signal the fluid has expired quite rapidly due to excessive heat. Particulate can signal a breakdown of the materials, a leak, or contamination of the fluid from other outside sources. Another possibility is water contamination of the fluid but I'm not sure the visual affects of that. The pressure loss ... If the pedal is not bouncing back after being pressed - this is a serious problem and definite loss of pressure. You should have a (different) mechanic evaluate when it is a symptom. it could be bad manufacturing, improper installation, etc. Long story short, the hydraulics are 100% shot and a mechanic should be called in to evaluate. If the pressure loss is just difficulty moving the shifter into gear - it may or may not be pressure loss. it could be a tiny air bubble or air buildup in the line from improper install, not being bled enough - even prebled parts should be bled a little from the slave to be safe, It could be you have a small leak that is letting air in (improper install or poor manufacturing can cause this too), it could be your shifter itself is wearing out, which letting it sit for a day or two, or longer, could cause it to seemingly resolve for a bit (this isn't likely the issue but temperature could be a factor in how often it happens). If it's your shifter, you won't notice grinding of your gears. Another possible cause is your Synchronizers are wearing out very slowly but not fast enough to cause noticeable grinding of the gears or the grinding is intermittent and you may chalk it up to user error. The issue here is you're getting build up from metal shavings in the fluid and it's overwhelming your magnet or your magnet is worn out and not grabbing the debris effectively. This isn't likely the cause - normally it's a bad clutch or air in the hydraulics is mistaken for bad synchronizers, not the other way around - had four people tell me my synchs were bad on my 1996 Ranger with the same transmission as yours but it turns out, I just have a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of air in the line and a possible minor issue with my shifter itself. Grinding of the gears while in gear but the clutch in - this is a sign that the hydraulics are losing pressure or debris in the trans. The hydraulics could be losing pressure from a leak, bad slave, bad master, air in the hydraulics, etc. If they are failing, they haven't failed enough to be inoperable, but it could happen at any time. the air could have just moved into a bad place if there is air present from the install. this is true if it resolves on its own. Clutch pedal is bouncing back BUT if in gear with the clutch in, and it jumps and starts moving causing you to quickly shut it off - the slave or master is not functioning AT ALL. One or both is/are shot, or one or both is/are dry or filled with a lot of air. The question at that point is, which is it and why? I'm not a mechanic, but my master cylinder went dry due to being told some bad information. My hydraulics were improperly bled afterward (Never let anyone tell you that a model cannot be bled from the slave - especially a Ranger. This is BS - there is a bleed valve on the slave. My brother made that claim which I later found to be untrue. I still need it bled and have intermittent issues from air in the line ever since. If it was my hydraulics being bad, or my transmission was bad, I wouldn't be able to still drive it. The issue has been intermittent for almost two years since the master went dry, and is as of yet unfixed because I can't find someone to bleed it without paying an arm and a leg - corrosion issue which isn't unusual unfortunately and it needs cleaned off before it can be bled without damaging the slave).

Thank you for your reply. Sorry for belated comeback. I had some of your suggestions done by my 4th Mecahnic such as bleeding, checking for leakage ….. Let's wait and see !!!!! Thanks and Regards Gilbert

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