What Are the Signs of Manual Transmission Problems?

Updated April 17, 2017

Manual transmissions are designed to operate smoothly and efficiently. Although fairly basic in design and function, manual transmissions can (and do) develop problems. Most manual transmission problems start small and produce telltale signs of dysfunction.

Hard Shifting

Manual transmission are designed to produce smooth, easy, controlled shifting between gear sets. When the clutch is activated during a manual transmission gear lever, the gears are designed to glide freely and smoothly from one gear to the next. In a hard-shifting situation, the manual transmission gears do not shift easily from one gear to the next; rather, excessive force is needed to affect gear shifting. And in severe cases, gear shifting may be prevented. These types of shifting conditions are common signs of manual transmission dysfunction.

Gear Noise

Manual transmissions that are functioning properly and efficiently rarely make noise, at least excessive noise. A manual transmission that makes noise, either during gear shifting or as the car is being driven in a fixed gear, is a sign that something within the transmission is not right. Although the problem could be a minor problem requiring only slight adjustment or repair, a noisy manual transmission, especially one that makes grinding or scraping sounds, especially during gear shifting, is a transmission in need of evaluation by a qualified mechanic.

Gear Slippage

Manual transmission gear slippage occurs when a manual transmission gear moves, or slips, out of place, a condition that causes transmission disengagement, or freewheeling, which seriously impedes vehicle operation. A manual transmission gear that slips out of place, either from a fixed gear position into neutral or vice versa, is a common symptom of a manual transmission problem, a problem that has the potential to seriously disrupt and prevent normal transmission and vehicle operation.

Hard Clutch

A vehicle clutch is a very important part of manual transmission function. The clutch mechanism allows for the smooth, efficient shifting of the manual transmission gears. A clutch that is hard to activate, or press, is a sign of a problem within the manual transmission, either within the manual transmission gear assembly or possibly in the clutch linkage assembly. No matter the exact cause, a hard-to-engage clutch mechanism impedes normal manual transmission function and is a sign of dysfunction.

Soft Cluth

Just as a hard-to-engage clutch assembly is a common symptom of a manual transmission problem, a clutch that is too easy to engage or one that lacks sufficient tension is a sign of a possible problem within a manual transmission. Although a soft clutch is oftentimes caused by a loose or maladjusted clutch cable, clutch tension is also influenced by the mechanical integrity and health of the inner manual transmission gear assemblies and housings. Therefore, a soft clutch assembly is a warning of possible manual transmission problems and should be investigated.

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