The Reasons for Manual Transmission Won’t Go into Gear When Running

The transmission of a car controls the transfer of power from the engine to the driveshaft. It’s a complex mechanical system that is more susceptible to wear and tear than other components because of the huge amount of friction and heat it has to endure. Even a well-maintained gearbox is likely to undergo problems depending on your driving habit, mileage, and some other related factors. One such problem is manual transmission won’t go into gear when running.

Manual Transmission Won’t Go into Gear When Running: The Symptoms

Any repair or replacement of the transmission components are inconvenient, time-consuming, and requires a handsome amount of money. So, you should be on alert for unusual activities to detect a glitch at the primary stage.

manual transmission won't go into gear when running
The car will make a grinding sound during this problem. Source: Top Speed

When the transmission won’t shift gears despite the engine is running, you should immediately have it diagnosed by an expert mechanic. The signs that the car will show at this time are:

  • The transmission won’t shift and the car makes a grinding sound when the engine is running. Besides, pulling out of first gear will feel harder than normal.
  • The transmission will shift in and out of gear without any issue when the car is not running.
  • It won’t come out of the reverse gear when the car is running.
  • You can push the clutch to the limit but the engine almost halts upon allowing the clutch out.


The Reasons for Manual Transmission Won’t Go into Gear When Running

There are some specific reasons for the manual transmission to behave in that way. Let’s check if your car is having issues in these areas:

Look into the clutch.

The problem could be the result of a stubborn clutch refusing to disengage. The one way of checking it is to start the car after engaging the gear and clutch. If the vehicle stumbles forward, you should take it to a servicing shop. An experienced mechanic should diagnose the clutch system because it indicates that the hydraulic clutch not putting any pressure on the pressure plate.

Be careful not to do the clutch testing in a busy area. The car will lurch forward suddenly when you turn on the engine. So, choose a vacant place where there is no chance to hit anything or anybody.

manual transmission won't go into gear when running
A stubborn clutch is a symptom of this problem. Source: Car Throttle

Low level of transmission fluid.

The components in modern manual transmission are always in motion even when the gears are in neutral. If there is no lubricant in the gearbox, you could have done major damage to the engine and gearbox components by running the car. You could end up with an expensive repair and even replacement of the whole transmission system.


The best way to stay away from transmission problems is to follow the recommended maintenance schedule and regular checkup procedures. A well-maintained transmission will perform better and have a longer lifespan.