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Mushy Ford

Q. I have a 95 Ford Explorer XL, 2wd, 2dr, 4.0 L engine, manual transmission, 63K miles, 4 speed+manual overdrive.

Approximately three weeks ago my clutch started giving problems. By this I mean its' release point was getting closer and closer to the floor and was nowhere near as firm. It also got to the point where it was very, very difficult to shift it into 1st or Reverse. Sometimes, I couldn't even get it to shift into first gear and had to start in second gear.

I took it in to a Ford Dealer to get it repaired and they replaced the entire clutch assembly--slave cylinder, clutch plate, clutch disc assembly and fluids. However, it still releases at the floor and I still have a hard time shifting it into 1st, 2nd, and reverse gears. It goes most of the time, but I have to force it. If I have a brand new clutch shouldn't the release point be about half way--like it used to be three weeks ago, shouldn't it be firm (somewhat resistant to pressure) instead of "mushy", and shouldn't I be able to shift it easily? I just spent $900 and my car isn't any better off than it was when I took it in. I was told that three different mechanics drove it and found nothing wrong with it. I have never had anything but a manual transmission (18 years of driving now) and this is not normal, but I can't get anyone (at this repair shop) to find anything wrong!!

Plus, I am five months pregnant and in a few months, I will not even be able to drive my vehicle because I will not be able to push the clutch to the release point (at the floor) because my legs won't reach--and I'm 5'8"!!!!

I would greatly appreciate any advice that you can offer.
Thank you for your time.

A. To me "mushy" means air in the hydraulic system. The clutch pedal should be high and firm, from ½ way to ¾ the way up from the floor. I would have them make sure the clutch hydraulic system is completely bled and I would check the clutch slave cylinder. It's not uncommon for them to go bad shortly after a clutch replacement. If all of that is okay, the clutch pedal free play can be adjusted. It may be fine for a big, burly he-man type mechanic, but the car can, and should, be adjusted to fit you. If they can't do it for you at the Ford dealership, take it to another shop and the will be happy to do it for you.

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