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Diagnosing Symptoms of a Bad Manual Transmission

Dan Ferrell writes about DIY car maintenance and repair. He has certifications in Automation and Control Technology and Technical Writing.

Manual transmissions can develop problems after miles of service.

Manual transmissions can develop problems after miles of service.

Bad Transmission Symptoms

Manual transmission problems can develop due to high mileage, abuse, or lack of proper maintenance. But they are rather rare. Most manual transmission issues originate not with the transmission itself, but from related components like the clutch assembly, linkage, or driveline: the components that transmit turning power from the transmission to the wheels. Also, as we discuss below, symptoms that seem to be coming from the transmission can come from unrelated parts of the car.

The key to diagnosing your manual transmission problem is to gather detailed information about the particular problem. For example, does the problem appear in only one of the gears, only at a certain speed, only when turning, only when downshifting, or after having serviced the clutch or another transmission component? Can you feel a vibration? Can you hear a clunking or grinding noise?

Symptoms of a Bad Transmission

Here are some symptoms that can indicate a worn-out transmission, each one of which we discuss below.

  1. Odd sounds (whirring, squealing, bumping, or thumping)
  2. Grinding noise
  3. Transmission jumps out of gear (into neutral)
  4. Difficulty shifting gears
  5. Car stuck in one gear
  6. Car that can't get into gear
  7. Leaking transmission oil

This guide will get you started on identifying the source of these problems. You'll need to investigate further and remember that manual transmission configurations can change from one model to the next.

Remember that this guide only deals with symptoms coming from the manual transmission (or transaxle) itself. Some symptoms that may appear to originate in the transmission actually come from the clutch (or another system), and vice versa. To get a more accurate diagnosis, take a look at the Bad Clutch Symptoms guide as well.

Your noise may not be coming from the transmission; a bad CV joint can produce noises when you accelerate or make a turn.

Your noise may not be coming from the transmission; a bad CV joint can produce noises when you accelerate or make a turn.

1. Odd Noises That May Come From the Transmission

The most common cause of a noisy transmission is insufficient oil, causing the gears or internal assembly to hum or whir. If a noisy transmission does have enough oil, the lubricant may be contaminated with metal shavings or particles.

Insufficient or contaminated oil may cause the transmission to become noisy in some or all of the gears. But if you hear noises in a specific gear, that gear's teeth or synchronizer may be worn or damaged.

Sources inside the transmission that can cause noise:

  • A worn-out synchronizer
  • The gears on the speedometer drive
  • Misaligned transmission
  • Flywheel pilot bearing
  • A worn or damaged input shaft bearing, if your transmission makes noises only in neutral (sometimes a bumping sound)
  • Worn-out gears
  • Reverse idler gear
  • countershaft
  • Output shaft pilot bearing problems
  • Metal shavings in the oil

Sources outside the transmission that can cause noise:

Some noises that seem to come from the transmission are actually coming from an outside though possibly related source. For example, if you hear a thumping noise when you accelerate or decelerate, check first for these problems before you blame the transmission:

  • A loose or damaged engine or transmission mount
  • A worn or damaged drive axle inner CV joint
  • Problems with the differential case

Noises that manifest when turning could point to a problem with the CV joint. Knocking noises when driving at low speeds could come from the differential case or the CV joint. However, a worn bearing can also produce a knocking or thumping noise.

A Three-Step Test for Transmission Bearing Noises

That noise you keep hearing may come from a bearing. This three-step test is simple and can reveal problems with one or more transmission bearings.

  1. Fire up the engine and set the transmission to neutral. If you can hear a noise in neutral, suspect a worn-out input shaft bearing. Watch the video at the bottom of this article to see how internal problems can affect input shaft operation.
  2. Now, with the engine running, depress the clutch pedal just enough to remove the free play, to the point where you feel you need to apply force to the pedal to push it down further. You may need to push the pedal a little more. If you hear a squealing noise, you may have a worn out release bearing.
  3. Fully depress the clutch pedal to release the clutch. If you hear a whirring sound then, you probably are dealing with a bad pilot bearing.
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Read More from AxleAddict

A bad synchronizer can cause a grinding noise.

A bad synchronizer can cause a grinding noise.

2. The Transmission Makes a Grinding Noise

Problems with the transmission can also be revealed through a grinding noise.

A grinding noise may come from clashing gears. The clashing may happen because of worn or damaged gears, linkage problems due to wear or need for adjustment.

Other potential sources could be a worn or damaged synchronizer, shift fork, or rail and bearing shafts.

If you can hear the gears clashing only when downshifting, the problem may come from the synchronizer (too much play at the output shaft end).

However, a grinding noise may also come from a dragging clutch.

Shift linkage problems can cause your transmission to jump out of gear.

Shift linkage problems can cause your transmission to jump out of gear.

3. The Transmission Jumps Into Neutral

This seems to be a common problem on worn-out transmissions. You shift into gear, and the transmission jumps out of gear.

Once again, there could be other several causes for this problem, besides a worn-out transmission:

  • A common problem is a worn out, stretched, or maladjusted shift linkage. A stretched linkage can be caused by a damaged engine or transmission mount. An external linkage can wear out or become loose and maladjusted, causing the transmission to jump out of gear. Look for rust and binding. You can try to adjust the linkage. But in most cases, you'll have to rebuild or replace that part of the assembly.
  • You may be dealing with a weak or broken spring in the shift rail. In an internal shift linkage, the spring is part of the spring-loaded ball that locks the transmission into gear (detent). If the ball slips out of the notch, the transmission will jump out of gear.
  • Also, you may be dealing with a worn-out pilot bearing (the gap causes the input shaft to vibrate, which causes the shift forks or synchronizers to move).
  • You may have problems with a worn synchronizer or shift fork assembly or other internal components.

Other potential causes to keep in mind:

  • Loose or misaligned transmission (possibly after service)
  • Misaligned clutch housing
  • Loose shifter cover
  • Worn-out gear teeth

Note: When the transmission only jumps out of a high gear, check the clutch housing bolts for tightness, or the transmission for misalignment.

A worn out shift fork can make it hard to shift gears.

A worn out shift fork can make it hard to shift gears.

4. It's Hard to Shift Gears

This problem happens when you find it hard to move the shift lever from one gear to another. Usually, this points to a problem with a loose linkage, worn shift cables or worn bearings.

Pay attention to this: If you find it hard to change gears even with the engine not running, take a look at the linkage. If hard shifting only occurs when the engine is running, check the clutch. If the transmission has been moved recently, check for misalignment.

Also, depending on your particular model, check the clutch hydraulic system and make sure it has no air. Check clutch adjustment as well.

Check the linkage. You may need to raise the vehicle and safely support it on jack stands or remove a component in order to make the inspection, depending on your vehicle model. You may need to remove a shift lever boot.

Get the help of an assistant to operate the linkage while you inspect the linkage, if necessary. Look for problems like binding, poor lubrication, and misaligned components.

To remove components for inspection, consult your vehicle repair manual. Haynes is a good aftermarket manual: get the manual for your exact model.

Other causes for a hard-to-shift manual transmission include:

  • Worn or loose internal components (shift fork, levers, shafts)
  • Low oil level (or the wrong type of oil)
  • Slipping clutch
  • Misaligned transmission
  • Failed pilot bearing or bushing
  • Synchronizer problems
  • Too much end play in the input shaft or main shaft
Low oil level can prevent gears' free travel.

Low oil level can prevent gears' free travel.

5. The Transmission Is Stuck in Gear

You may find that you can't get the transmission out of gear. This symptom may indicate:

  • Low oil level or the wrong type of oil
  • Problems with the linkage or shifter assembly. Look for maladjustment, or wear or damage to rods, bushings, or shifter arms.
  • Internal components: shift rail, detents, forks or a stuck synchronizer sleeve
  • Worn-out or broken drive gear teeth
  • A stuck shift rail
  • Misaligned transmission

6. The Transmission Won't Get Into Gear

When you have trouble getting the transmission into gear, inspect the shift linkage for adjustment, looseness or damage.

However, remember that failure to get into gear can also be caused by the clutch if the clutch isn't fully releasing or has other problems. The clutch might need adjustment. Check my article on bad clutches. Also, consult your vehicle repair manual.

Inspect gaskets, seals, or loose bolts when looking for oil leaks.

Inspect gaskets, seals, or loose bolts when looking for oil leaks.

7. Leak From the Transmission

Manual transmission leaks can be caused by:

  • Bad or worn-out seals or gaskets
  • A damaged case or component
  • Loose bolts

To verify that a leak exists, first, check the transmission case and oil level. If it leaks after you just replaced the oil, you may have put too much. Consult your vehicle repair manual.

Locate the source of the leak. Inspect the transmission oil seal and the O-ring in the vehicle speed sensor.

Consult your vehicle repair manual for the proper procedure to replace seals, bearings, or gaskets. Some of these repairs don't require much work, and you may be able to do the job in your own garage with a few common tools.

Know the Causes

Knowing about common manual transmission problems can help you diagnose your problems sooner, and possibly save money. This guide helps you identify and explore those common and not-so-common areas. Still, manual transmissions vary between models, so once you have an idea of the possible problem with your transmission, consult your model's vehicle repair manual to troubleshoot that particular issue. You may be able, in some cases, to do the repair yourself.

Also, keep in mind that it's not uncommon for some transmissions to suffer from design issues, like those in some 2012-2015 Mazda3, 2014-2015 Mazda6, and 2013-2015 CX-5 models with hard to shift or jumping out of gear problems. If necessary, check online for possible recalls or technical service bulletins (TBS) for your specific model or call your local dealer.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why does my car only shift gears when the engine is off?

Answer: Have you checked the fluid level? If low, it may need some attention. Look for leaks if necessary. If you didn't move the car for a while, look for rust around the flywheel-clutch assembly.

Question: I have a 2014 Chevy Cruze, 6 speed Manual transmission. I was driving along and without warning, it felt like I was in neutral but was in 5th gear. No clunking or anything. When I stopped and tried to take off again, it felt like it wanted to go. I could feel the tires pulling but it wouldn't move. When I shifted to neutral, we could push it out of the road. We thought at first it was a stuck brake until we got it to roll in neutral. What is wrong with it?

Answer: My guess is that there's a problem with the clutch master cylinder or clutch assembly -- worn or damaged clutch, perhaps. Check the fluids and potential leaks, if necessary.

Question: My Saginaw 4 Speed with 1/4 turn, then binds up. What is wrong?

Answer: There could be a problem with the shift rail or fork.

Question: 2005 Scion xB – car making grinding/banging noises while driving that caused the car to stop. The car seemed to be stuck in gear/gearbox scrambled. I was able to put the car in reverse with the engine running, and while trying to reverse the car made the same grinding/banging noises once I let off the clutch. After much resistance and noise, the car reversed like normal, and when put in first gear, it drove normal. What could be the issue?

Answer: It’s possible the front or rear bearing on the intermediate shaft is worn or damaged. But you need to have the issue correctly diagnosed before making any repair decision.

Question: The car changes gears upwards fine, but it's difficult to gear down. What is wrong?

Answer: Possibly the clutch is not releasing properly or there's too much output shaft end play.

Question: Can a flywheel cause a car to crank but not start?

Answer: If the flywheel has missing teeth, it can prevent the starter from properly sniping the crankshaft. You'd probably hear some grinding.

Question: What could cause the following symptoms? A whining, clicking noise worse in lower gears, i.e. fast and loud in first, not so loud and fast in second and so on. I can't really tell in fourth or fifth.

Answer: Usually, whining or clicking in a forward gear points to worn gear teeth, but make sure there's enough fluid in the transmission. If you hear a rhythmical clicking noise in a low gear, this may come from chipped or broken teeth. If there's a loose part, it may cause damage in other parts of the transmission.

Question: What could be the cause of my 1997 Toyota T100 manual 5speed transmission to be stuck in 2nd gear?

Answer: There could be several reasons for this. Check first the gearshift lever for wear or damage; there could be problems with the gearshift internal linkage or shift rail; on the shift rail, a worn plunger, broken spring or a loose plug can cause this as well. If the synchronizer sleeves are worn or damaged, they will cause the gear to get stuck.

Question: We have a 1985 Nissan mini motorhome. The problem is that it makes a high pitching whining noise when in 5th gear when pushing the gas pedal, and a rattling noise in the 4th when releasing the gas pedal. We think it’s probably the bearings, any other idea?

Answer: The whining noise may come from a worn bearing. Sometimes, changing the oil helps a bit, but eventually, the bearing will have to be dealt with. If the rattling noise is coming from the transmission, it could be the gears (worn or chipped). You may find out when replacing the oil.

Question: It has become difficult to downshift from 5th to 4th in my 1981 Toyota diesel pickup. It shifts out of 5th smoothly but catches going into 4th. Double clutching helps, but it will still grind a little. Pumping the master cylinder helps intermittently. Also, on a random shift up or down, it feels as if the clutch is not fully disengaging and the gears will drag slightly as they disengage. That happens less often with the new master cylinder. Any thoughts?

Answer: Kind of unusual, but if you hear the grinding, probably the synchro is the issue here.

Question: I have a 2007 Nissan Versa, manual transmission. While driving on the freeway, the car loses power like the gas pedal won't work. When I press on the clutch, the engine revs but when in gear I have nothing. It does not happen when going slower on surface streets. Do you have any advice?

Answer: It’s possible the clutch is starting to slip. Quick test:

* Park in a safe place to allow car to move forward safely.

* At idle, fully depress the clutch and shift to third gear.

* Increase engine speed to about 2000 rpm.

* Slowly, let go of the clutch pedal (engage clutch).

* The engine should stall, if not, most likely the clutch is slipping (worn or mechanical fault in release mechanism).

Just don’t let the engine run for more than two seconds after fully releasing the clutch (if engine doesn’t stall) or you’ll damage the flywheel or pressure plate.

Question: What could my problem be? My 2004 Subaru Forester XT makes a loud ticking sound when at 2,000 rpm and less. As the car is coming to a stop, the noise becomes louder. But if I put the clutch in, after 2 seconds, the noise goes away and also if I put it in neutral. Also, after I put it in neutral or put my clutch in, the engine oil light comes on the dash but does not when under acceleration or braking.

Answer: The clicking sound may be produced by a problem with the cluster gear assembly teeth. The oil light is most likely a separate pressure issue in the lubrication system. You can check system pressure with a gauge. This other post may help you:

Question: My vehicle has a loud clunking noise in reverse only and now I have no reverse. Is this repairable or do I need a new transmission?

Answer: Check first the transmission and engine mounts. A broken mount can cause the transmission to misalign with respect to the engine. This usually produce a clunking noise. Otherwise there could be a problem with the shift rail, internal linkage, or gearshift lever problem.

Question: I have a 1998 Pontiac Firebird 3.6L V6 with a 5-speed manual Transmission. When shifting into 5th gear, it doesn't go into gear unless I shake it in and out. It doesn't kick me into neutral or grind unless I let off the clutch when it isn't in a while holding it in 5th without "setting" all the way in 5th. But it works fine as do the other gears; it just requires a little shake to get into gear. What could be the problem?

Answer: This could be a worn synchronizer sleeve or hub issue. But it’s better to get a proper diagnostic.

Question: My 2012 Jeep Wrangle 6 speed shifts late and hard in lower gears, what could cause the problem?

Answer: This is usually caused by a worn or faulty clutch disc, but it can also signal a problem with the linkage, shift rail. On a high mileage, or abused, transmission, burrs on a synchronizer groove or main shaft can also make it difficult and cause a gear to engage hard.

Question: I have a 2003 Dodge Neon R/T (no turbo) that isn’t going into reverse or 5th. The reverse went out before I had the clutch replaced a few weeks ago. And now the 5th isn’t working. What could cause my Dodge Neon's 5th gear to no longer function?

Answer: Sometimes, this comes from a mechanical issue. Fully depress the clutch pedal. If you are unable to engage every gear, there's probably a problem in the linkage. Also, check the shifter.

Question: I'm having an issue with the transmission being stuck in fifth gear. I have recently installed an all-new motor mount, clutch kit, and shift cable. My question is, will the striking rod seal cause me to be unable to shift out of gear?

Answer: If this happened after installing the kit and shift cable, you may want to check the gearshift lever. There could be something incorrectly assembled. Otherwise there might be a problem with the shift rails, shifter fork, or other internal component.

Question: I have an 07 Acura TSX. I just had the clutch replaced. It drives fine, no vibration or anything but when it's in gear it makes this loud clicking noise, which gets much worse if I let off the accelerator. Pushing the clutch in or having it in neutral makes it much quieter. It's driving me crazy bc nobody can tell me what it is. Any info would be helpful?

Answer: The noise may come from the input shaft gears. Make sure the transmission is properly aligned.

Question: I have a 91 honda civic with a manual transmission. My transmission is leaking oil, so I had the input shaft seal and barring replaced. I started my car at the shop, and noticed that it's hard to put my car into gear. 1st - 4th works, but it's stiff, and my car grinds to go into 5th. I can't put it in reverse at all because it feels like it will break. The mechanic told me that I need to drive it for a few days and it should loosen up. All of my gears shifted smoothly before I had this work done. Any idea what this guy messed up on my car?

Answer: There could be several reasons for this, but from the work done to your transmission, there are a few guesses: it is possible the transmission was not properly aligned when installed, the input shaft bearing retainer might be a little loose.

If it sounds like gears clashing going into reverse, it is possible the input shaft pilot bearing is sticking.

If possible, first check the oil level in the transmission. If necessary, add the necessary oil and check the transmission; otherwise, bring it back to the shop.

Question: My Honda transmission (P2A8) feels like a wall is blocking 4th gear only, and every other gear shifts fine whether the car is running or not. Any idea why?

Answer: There could be several reasons for this. It could be a problem with the gearshift lever (worn or damaged); shift rail detent plunger worn, broken spring or plug loose; internally, the gearshift linkage or shift rail may be damaged.

Question: My car has no gears. It began not going into 2nd. Then all bottom gears, 2nd, 4th and 6th; then all gears. Now the shifter just turns freely in circles. What could be the problem?

Answer: First check that there’s not a problem with the linkage. The shifter should be properly connected to it. Other possibility is an internal mechanical problem in the transmission.

Question: I think my manual transmission has a stuck shift rail. What are some things I can try to fix it? The car is in neutral, but the shift looks like it's just about in first but not quite. The shifter is also pretty stuck on there.

Answer: You might want to check the gearshift linkages and check for some binding in the mechanism outside the transmission. Follow the gearshift level mechanism to the shifter assembly or rods, and see if anything is interfering with movement.

Question: My 2003 Toyota Corolla will reverse with no problem or noise. I can shift it into first with no problem. However, when driving in first it shakes and grinds terribly. I have only crept along with in going 5mph to see if it would go forward; it does. Could this be the gearbox?

Answer: It could be a problem with the gearbox, input shaft or CV joint.

Question: My 2011 manual Toyota Yaris makes a grinding and scraping noise when I let off the accelerator while it's still in gear disappears when I engage clutch or accelerate. What could this be?

Answer: There could be a problem with the clutch release bearing. They sound like this when they start going bad.

Question: I have a 1999 Toyota 4Runner Manual Transmission 5 speed. I am having trouble getting the car into 1st gear and reverse. If the car is turned off it will go into 1st gear or reverse no problem. Once I am driving the others gears seem to work fine with an occasional slight difficulty getting into other gears. I do not have any leaks or noises. Do you think I just need to change the transmission fluid?

Answer: Check the engine and transmission motor mounts. They could be cracked or worn.

Question: Is the transmission blown if it acts like it's in Neutral even when it's in gear?

Answer: Not necessarily. Probably the clutch is not engaging. The clutch may be worn out, clutch in need of adjustment. or some wear on another component.

Question: I have a 2012 Chevy Sonic with a manual transmission. It makes a knocking noise in all 5 gears that gets faster with speed. The noise disappears when the clutch is pressed, or when in neutral. What would cause this?

Answer: This kind of rhythmic, knocking sound usually happens in a component with a chipped or broken teeth. This may be a gear, input or intermediate shaft gears or similar part. But you need a good diagnostic, because something like this requires disassembly if a shop suspects this is what's going on.

Question: I heard a little bang when in gear, then I was out of gear, and although the clutch was able to put the tranny into each gear, the transmission would keep acting as if I was in neutral. Is this a clutch or transmission output shaft problem?

Answer: If there's enough oil, check the clutch linkage for adjustment.

Question: I have a 2008 Cobalt Sport. The shifter is loose and can rotate 360 degrees. It won’t shift into 4th gear and when I try, it grinds bad. So I completely skip that gear and go from 3rd to 5th gear. What could be the problem?

Answer: Most likely the shifter is either worn or damaged, that would prevent going into 4th.

Question: I have a 2007 Toyota Corolla that is making a whining noise in all gears and sometimes a clanking sound. Does this sound like it could be a problem with the clutch?

Answer: Seems like a worn clutch or flywheel; possibly a problem with the pilot bushing being worn as well.

Question: So when I let off of the gas of my car (but still in gear) at highway speeds (50 mph plus) there's a thumping and bumping noise. I can feel it very slightly! My question is, what would cause this? I have no other issues with shifting. I just noticed it happening today.

Answer: Usually, this type of noise comes from a worn universal joint; but other related issues that may cause noises during deceleration or even acceleration - axle bearings, or a worn transmission extension housing bushing.

Question: What would cause my 2001 Trans Am not to go into first with the car on or off? All other gears work.

Answer: The problem could be a detent plunger worn or broken spring or a loose plug (not able to hold the detent pin or spring). This is just an idea. You need a better diagnostic before disassembling.

This may give you an idea although the mechanism might not be exactly like yours:

Question: I have a 1926 Dodge with 3-speed manual gearbox floor shift. I can change up through the gears, but when I want to change down from 3rd (top) to second, I cannot get it out of top gear. The lever is stuck. Clutch works ok. Do you have any advice?

Answer: Make sure the shift linkage is not stuck, worn or damage. Otherwise, an internal mechanical problem seems to be the issue.

Question: I have a VW T25 diesel 4 speed. It started grinding into 3rd and 4th recently and can be hard to get into first. And pops out of 2nd. So not a good start (was fine before an engine replacement). I was driving on a trip, and it dropped from 4th to 2nd without touching the stick. Now I've only got reverse, 1st, and 3rd, and I'm pretty sure 2nd is 4th! Grinding when the clutch is engaged too. Any ideas? I've restored the linkage but no good.

Answer: It seems like an internal problem, probably a damaged gear. You may need to bring the car to a transmission shop for a proper diagnosis.

Question: 1992 Ford Ranger 5 speed manual. While running in neutral, as I let out on the clutch, it starts making a rattling noise. When I push the clutch in, it stops. Also it will go in all gears fine but when I start to take off, it will try to move but then makes a loud popping sound and won't move. Previous to this it had started making a whining sound when driving. What could be wrong?

Answer: This could be a problem of worn or bad countershaft bearings. But I believe your model has the Mazda M5OD R1 5 speed transmission. Make sure you got enough oil. The rubber shift cover plugs tend to shrink and leak, usually while the vehicle is moving. This could affect bearings and gears.

Question: My 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer pops out of first gear half the time and grinds when downshifting to 2nd, what could be the problem?

Answer: Probably the gearshift mechanism is faulty. Usually, this is caused by worn or damaged detent plugs or springs failing to keep the gear locked in place. Other problems that can cause the gear to slip: faulty shift forks or rail; a worn clutch shaft or roller bearing; worn pilot bushing; bad synchronizer assembly.

Question: I have a 98 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 nv3500. Trans grinds into 2nd and 3rd. If I pause after pressing in the clutch, it doesn't grind. Pedal seems a bit harder to press than normal. I changed the fluid. It was not too dark but magnet had a fair amount of metal on it, looked silver for the most part. Should I do a clutch before condemning synchros?

Answer: It does sound like a syncro issue, but it could be a linkage adjustment problem or slave cylinder issue as well.

Question: Sometimes when I shift my 1999 f250, it feels like it goes in gear, but the check engine light comes on, and there is no throttle response or grinding when I let out the clutch. I try to go into different gears, and this usually works. It was doing it a little bit, and I changed the clutch. It worked great for a moment, then started doing the shift thing again and feels like it is getting worse. There is new fluid in the transmission and filled until it came out the side. Could it be a bad slave cylinder?

Answer: It's hard to say without a diagnostic, but check the shift linkage for adjustment. Before you do that, though, make sure to download the trouble codes from the computer memory. They can point you in the right direction if there is any store in there.

Question: I have a 06 Scion. In first and second gear only you can literally feel the entire gear shift pull forward when accelerating. In second gear, it pulls so hard it drops to gear shift back into neutral. If I try to hold the gear shift in second, it grinds. Third, fourth and fifth are all fine. Do I need a new transmission?

Answer: There could be a number of things. Gearshift, shift fork or rail problems, clutch shaft or synchronizer assembly damage.

Question: I have a Nissan X-Trail 2015, manual 4x4. When reversing on a steep uphill road the gear pops out! What could the problem be?

Answer: There could be a problem with the synchro, but you'll need a good diagnostic from a shop.

Question: My 2011 Camaro is a V6 manual transmission but when the engine is running it will not shift into first. But, if started in first the car creeps forward; I've been using second for now. What could the issue be?

Answer: This could be several things, cable in need of adjustment, leaking cylinder (hydraulic models), a linkage problem.

Question: When I push on the accelerator and shift into gear, it makes a whiring sound when I drive. What could be the problem?

Answer: If you can hear the noise in all gears while moving, but you don't hear it in neutral, probably you got faulty output bearings.

Question: My Ford F150 is stuck in second gear, but the shifter moves. What could be the problem?

Answer: The gearshift lever may be worn or broken, or there could be issues with gear train components.

Question: I have a 2015 Fiesta St and I’m having gear whine in 4th-6th. The dealer said it’s a synchro but that doesn’t sound right to me. I believe it has to be one of the bearings. Have any ideas?

Answer: This is usually caused by worn or damaged synchro, gear teeth or bearings.

Question: What would be the cause? I was driving my 2004 Jeep Wrangler today when I pushed in the clutch to shift gear, I heard a weird noise, then a clang. It slipped into neutral and would not go back into gear, and a weird pinging noise while sitting in neutral at idle. It started kind of whining last week when I would push in the clutch to change gears. Any ideas?

Answer: Seems like the noise was coming from low fluid. If heat built up enough, it might've caused gears damaged. Check first how much fluid the transmission has. If you hear some grinding when trying to shift into gear, probably the transmission is damaged. But you need a proper diagnostic before deciding on any major repairs. Also, there could be a mechanical problem in the clutch assembly.

Question: There is a clunking noise coming from the right side axle. And when I jack up the car, put it in gear with the motor running only the left wheel turns. What could be the problem?

Answer: The CV joint (the part of the axle that slides into the splined hub on the wheel) is probably busted.

Question: I have Kia Pride LX sedan transmission problem. 1st gear is jumping into neutral. What is the problem? The 2nd and 5 gear are good.

Answer: There could be varied reasons for a gear to jump out. Most common: misadjusted shift linkage; shift rail detent worn (or spring); worn synchronizer clutch sleeve teeth; worn gear teeth.

Question: Why has my 99 Nissan Frontier lost 4th gear?

Answer: There could be several reasons for this, like a damaged synchronizer sleeves or hubs; a worn gearshift lever; a problem with the shift rail or internal linkage; or a worn shift rail detent plunger (something like this:

Question: I have a 2003 Honda Accord (Euro) CL9. My transmission grinds when I put it in reverse. I found out that before engaging reverse if I engage the 3rd gear and then the reverse, the reverse it won't grind. Sometimes it's hard to engage the 1st gear whether it's cold or hot. What should I do? Can the transmission fluid be the culprit ?

Answer: The clutch might be dragging. Shifting into a higher gear before engaging reverse helps to stop reverse from spinning. Usually this happens because the clutch is dragging. The clutch disc is spinning and then you hear it grinding. Most of the time first and reverse don't use a synchronizer. If first has a synchro, the selector ring and blocker ring have problems (wear-damage) aligning. Check the hydraulic system for leaks or problems with the master and slave. This other post may help as well:

Question: I have a BMW with manual gearbox Getrag GS6-17BG with 102.000 Km. When I put on the 1st gear and I'm taking out the clutch, the gear jumps to neutral. I have to accelerate a little more so that the gear doesn't jump. When the car is running I have no problems. What could be the problem with my manual BMW's gearshift?

Answer: There are a number of things that can cause this problem. Usually, shift lever and internal gearshift linkage problems. But worn out bearings can also cause a jump. Other sources include internal issues with the clutch pilot bearing, shift forks, and rails.

© 2017 Dan Ferrell

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