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Hard To Shift Gears in Manual Transmission – Here’s What You Need To Know

Hard To Shift Gears in Manual Transmission

The manual transmission in your gear, also known as a manual gearbox, is a kind of transmission used in motor vehicles that allows the driver to stick to change gears. The mechanism also uses a third pedal in charge of operating a clutch, enabling the driver to switch between gears while driving. 

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Learning how to drive a manual transmission car can take a bit of practice and time, but the drivers might enjoy the benefits. Operating a “stickshift” lets you feel more connected to the road and provides the driver with the skills necessary to drive virtually any car anywhere in the world. 


Although these kinds of cars are efficient and teach the driver the necessary skills to operate various automobiles, manual transmission problems are pervasive. Fixing manual transmission problems can prevent it from being hard to shift gears in manual transmission. Finding the root cause of the issues can fix these problems before they become more severe. 

Manual Transmission Maintenance Schedule


Transmission repairs or replacement in your car can be a costly fix that you will have to pay out of pocket – they are some of the most expensive replacements you can have in your vehicle, besides replacing the engine. Since this is the case, it is a good idea to pay close attention to the running and the lifespan of your transmission to keep your transmission healthy and safe. 


Adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule put forward by your car’s manual or your technician can help you prevent future problems, cure problems that are already occurring, and keep your transmission running longer and performing better.


Since there are significant issues that could come up in your car if your transmission is not maintained correctly and if the symptoms are not checked by a professional. There are specific ways you can diagnose the manual transmission problem to keep your car running smoothly.


Diagnosing what problem your car may have can seem like a very time-consuming task for you to carry out on your own, especially to those who are not experienced with cars or are untrained to the sounds of a bad transmission. If this is the case, it could help think of your car’s inner parts as similar to that you have worked on regarding other appliances, like in the kitchen or the bathroom. 

Causes of Manual Transmission Being Hard To Shift 


We need to determine why cars with manual transmission are sometimes more difficult to change gears than automatic vehicles. Manual transmission symptoms that are being hard to shift can usually trace back to an issue with the transmission itself or the clutch. 


  • Clutch System



When figuring out why it is hard to shift gears in manual transmission, the first place you should look is the clutch system. The clutch system is responsible for engaging and disengaging the power to the transition. A few main parts comprise the clutch system: clutch master cylinder, clutch cover, clutch disc, release cylinder, release bearing, and the release fork. 


These parts work together to help transfer the power between the engine and the transmission. When you press down on the clutch pedal as the driver, pressure transfers to the clutch master cylinder. The clutch master cylinder’s function is to push the release cylinder, the release fork, and the clutch cover. This process will help put your car into Neutral.


At that moment, when the car is going into Neutral, the engine does not transit to the transmission for extra power, allowing you to change gears quickly. However, if the clutch master cylinder is damaged, it will be hard to shift gears in manual transmission. 


Furthermore, if the clutch and engine do not engage and disengage at the right time, it will be very hard to shift gears in manual transmission. In some severe cases, you will not be able to shift at all, making it impossible to drive. 


  • Synchronizer Ring



The synchronizer ring’s main function is to engage the gear at the right time, without any clunking or grinding. The synchronizer ring consists of small teeth that easily engage and stitch into the main gear. If the synchronizer ring is not working properly, it will be hard to shift gears in manual transmission. 


  • Gears



A vital component of the manual transmission system is the gear. The manual transmission gears are the counter gear, reverse, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and sometimes even a 6th gear. Each gear has teeth, which has the main function of connecting with the synchronizer ring to “catch” and change gears. If teeth become worn down over time and can no longer grab the synchronizer ring, it will be very hard to shift gears in manual transmission. 


  • Hub Gear


There is a hub gear that engages the necessary gears. A hub gear goes between various gears, like the first and second, to ensure a connection between the gears in the transmission system. Since the hub gear is connected to the transmission shaft, it directly affects the shifting mechanism. If the hub gear becomes damaged, then it can be very hard to shift gears in manual transmission. 


  • Hub Sleeve


The main function of the hub sleeve is to engage the main gears. The sleeve works in tandem with the hub gear to select and connect to the various gears. The hub gear also moves left and right during the gear shifts, acting as the connection between the main gear and the hub gear. However, if the hub gear becomes worn out over time, it can make it hard to shift gears in manual transmission. 


Make sure you keep your oil topped up to prevent the hub sleeve from failing. If your transmission is leaking oil or does not adhere to a maintenance schedule, you will have low oil in the gear system, leading to the gear shifting failure. 


  • Transmission Stuck In Gear


If you are having a hard time shifting gears in manual transmission, this could be due to your transmission stuck in a particular gear. This problem is generally caused by a few issues, and can usually indicate the following problems in your car: 


  • Low oil level or the wrong type of oil for your specific car and transmission
  • Problems with the linkage or the shifter – if this is the case, search for any damage to the internal rods, control arm bushings, or the shifter arms.
  • Internal components like the forks or synchronizer sleeve stuck.
  • Worn-out or damaged drive gear teeth, regarding the hub sleeve, hub gear, or gears themselves
  • Stuck shift rail
  • Misaligned transmission


Any of these indications lead to the manual transmission being difficult to use and the driver having a hard time shifting gears in manual transmission. 


  • Transmission Not Going Into Gear


Another cause of the driver having a  hard time shifting gears in a manual transmission is the transmission simply not getting into any gear. The inability to choose a gear can be due to the shift linkage being damaged or the clutch not fully releasing. 

Manual Transmission Repair Cost


When you notice that it is hard to shift gears in manual transmission, this might require an expensive repair or replacement in your car. If this is the case, you need to look into transmission repairs, rebuilds, and replacements. 

Average Cost of Rebuild, Repair, and Replace


The transmission replacement is easily one of the most extensive and expensive replacements and jobs. The average cost of the transmission replacement typically ranges from around $1,800 to $3,400 for most cars. If you decide to save some money, a used transmission ranges from about $800 to $1,500, while a rebuilt transmission charges between $1,100 to $2,800, and a remanufactured option runs between $1,300 and $1,300. 


When figuring out what option will work best for your car, you need to know the differences in these options for your manual transmission. Rebuilds can sometimes cost just as a replacement depending on the damage and how hard it is to shift gears in the manual transmission. The high end of the price range for the replacement and the high end of the rebuild is generally in the same price range. 


However, if you just need a repair to fix the hard shifting in manual transmission vehicles, the price range is on the lower end, ranging between $300 and $1,400. 

Ways To Save Money 


Suppose you want to save money when looking at how to fix the hard shifting in the manual transmission. In that case, you can look into buying a remanufactured transmission yourself without using your autobody shop to search for parts. This way, you will only pay the local repair shop for the labor costs to install the parts. 

Factors That Affect Cost 


The transmission cost will depend on various factors, all of which affect how much you will spend and how efficient the shop will be at fixing the hard shifting in the manual transmission. If the transmission needs a complete rebuild or replacement, you can expect to pay thousands more than just a repair.


  • Make 


The make of the car highly affects how much you will spend. Certain vehicles, such as luxury vehicles, will cost much more than American-made cars that are more common. Also, if you have a rare vehicle that requires more care, this can increase the transmission repair cost. 


  • Damage


If your car and transmission has more extensive damage than just a simple repair job or fix, then you can expect to pay much more for this fix. If your car has serious damage, it will usually require a complete rebuild or replacement, costing you upwards of around $3,500. 


  • Old vs. New


If your car is old, then you might expect to pay a different amount than if your car is new. An older car might have more issues and require a higher replacement or repair cost. The car will also have been through more wear and tear, leading to a more extensive repair job. Oftentimes, an older car might make it harder for the driver to shift gears in the manual transmission. 

Symptoms of a Problem

To figure out if you need a transmission repair for the hard shifting in your manual transmission, there are a number of signs and symptoms to keep an eye and ear out for. Many of these issues can be regularly avoided by changing your transmission fluid and having the transmission fluid on a regular basis that is set by your car’s manual. 


Keep in mind that just one mechanical failure in your transmission can lead to imminent engine failure, which is one of the most expensive replacements in your vehicle. These noticeable and audible signs are the step before an expensive engine or transmission replacement is necessary. The signs to look out for are:


  • Transmission slipping between gears while driving
  • Grinding and humming noises that are especially prevalent when in Neutral
  • The smell of burnt fluid
  • Clutch is dragging, staying engaged and causing grinding noises
  • Grinding or thumping when changing gears
  • Hard to change gears in manual transmission
  • Lag or delay while changing gears


If you notice any of these symptoms, it is an immediate sign that you should look into transmission fixes to prevent paying for an expensive replacement. 



As you can see, the issue of having a hard time shifting gears in a manual transmission is caused by numerous factors. In addition, you might notice obvious symptoms that cause these issues, leading you to look into the prices of a transmission repair, replacement, or rebuild. By noticing the common signs of transmission issues, you can prevent the loud grinding and humming noises while changing gears, burning fluid, the clutch dragging, lags or delays while changing gears, and the inability to change gears while using a manual transmission. Fixing these issues can keep your car running safely for a long period of time!

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