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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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

23 Comments
  1. Chris fountain says

    Could my clutch shifting while not running but hard shifting while running be from the clutch not being bled off properly?

  2. Shailendra says

    I have a Jeep Campass Longitude vehicle, while the driving on top gear in manual transmission (6th) 100 & 120 speed 6th gear automatic shift on nutral and than automatic without manual changes engaeg same position after driving 120 to 150 know.
    What is the reason of in the top gear automatic shift on nutral and than engage position?

  3. Samantha Knox says

    I cannot get my car to change gears while engine is running, but no problems changing gears when car is not running.

    1. Danny Bisatt says

      Mine is the same so have to leave engine running 20 minutes

    2. Jeff says

      Have you found any solution? Just happened my car yesterday, same issue. When the car is on it won’t go into gear, when the car is off, goes in and out of gears easy

      1. Bathini says

        So did you find solution Jeff?
        If yes plzz call me or what’s app 0735346355 I have same problem ryt nw I don’t knw what must I do

  4. Manny says

    I have a 96 dodge 5 speed tranny and it wont engage any gear when on i can out it in gear when on and pop the clutch and it wont lunge forward any takers on the problem?

  5. Lee r says

    I have a 2007 Ford ranger, while my car is running sometimes I can’t shift into gear. I have to rev up to allow it to engage.

    I just had my clutch replaced 1.5 yr ago could it be a leak or the cylinders

  6. Hunter G says

    I have a 1989 ford f150 custom with a 4 speed manual, straight 6 motor. My truck one day stopped letting me change gear and it made a grinding noise. I pulled of the side of the road and it wouldn’t turn on or even turn over. we replaced the clutch slave cylinder and it would start but I can’t shift gears at all. it makes a grinding noise. We changed the master cylinder and the hose between the two also. It still makes the Same noise. We bled it lots of times and got the air out. we just don’t know what to do.

  7. Hunter G says

    It will shift when of but not On

  8. Corey hard says

    Car won’t shift into gear when the car is on. But when it is turned off it does it fine. I bought a brand new slave sylinder and bleed it hopefully the right way and still spent work. I started the car in first , jumped a little bit but was fine when running. Idk I’m just frustrated and don’t know what els to do

  9. Phillip says

    So what did you find out?

  10. Tari says

    Please, have an eclipse doing this same thing… Any answers?

  11. vic saga says

    hi there,,,ive change all the clutch system of ford everest manual trans. from master down to clutch lineng,pressure plate,release bearing. but when engine is running it cant engage the gear. when engine is not running it is easy to shift. it is possible that the sensors has connecion with this matter?

  12. Danilson Carvalho says

    I 2005 have civic si hatch ( ep3) I can shit to 1 2 and 3 gear but won’t go to 4 of 5 gear when is running on 3 gear if I bring to 4 it doesn’t have no power if feels like is on neutro and 5 gear I have to fight to put it in but it always comes out on it own , any help plz

  13. Steven Mongeau says

    Just replace the clutch pressure plate throw out bearing control arm slave cylinder master cylinder line in between I lost a lot of fluid when I was taking it out and I don’t know exactly how much it take to put three quarts back into your still a wine and it’s not shifting into gear while running it’ll start to go and then if I push it towards the gear and let off on the clutch a little little roll forward

  14. Luis Batres says

    I have a cobalt ss 2.0 and i can put it in to gears when it is on but when i let go of the clutch to put it in to gear i start to hear a grinding sound and it doesnt move what can it be? I turned on the car while on gear and the only thing it does is just grind

  15. Niro Naicker says

    Hi can some please help me, I am beside myself and have spent too much money with any resolve for my Hyundai Getz. My car was giving issues with the clutch. Especially when hot and in use the gears would it take and then the clutch pedal would be too hard. I had a new clutch kit fitted after a week the pressure went down in the pedals. I took it back to the mechanic who then said its the hydraulics, so had a new master cylinder fitted. All this time there was still a violent vibration when taking off and releasing on the clutch pedal or dropping down gears. One month later clutch issues again this time refusing to take gear and could not be driven. Sent it to another mechanic he put another new clutch kit and did a clutch o|he and put new plunges. Gears still don’t feel right. Two weeks later whilst driving the car and came to a stop street I can feel like the car wants to switch off. I put it in neutral and it was giving violent jerks and wants to switch off. Pedal still had pressure but gears wear being sticky. I pumped the clutch pedal just to get a gear selection to keep it mobile. Now I cannot drive it because it I know it will switch off. All the mechanics that I took it too do not seem to understand what I am saying and just do a temporary fix and rip me off. Please can someone share some insight, I would be most grateful. The last mechanic that worked on it said it sounds like it needs a new slave cylinder. Why would it need that if I just had both cyclinders changed a few months ago? What are the signs of a slave cylinder giving issues? What does the car violently jerk and wants to to cut off the ignition?

    1. i have a small Peugeot 106, 954 cc petrol, year of manufacture 1992, chassis number is VF 31cc 1191 502 19552 and suddenly the gears does not engage while the engine is running, and causing a high sound of noice and still does not engage gears, but can engage gears when the engine is not running.
      May I ask what went wrong all of a sudden and how to repair if a damage was caused ?

  16. kenworth says

    My Nissan Atlas td27 is engaging into gear 1 but wont drive. What could be the problem.

  17. Israel says

    So I have a Mazda rx8 and I’m having the same problem but when I put it on first gear while being off and try to turn it on it won’t catch and when I lift the car up and then that’s when it starts to work it goes into gears easily so I don’t know if it has to do with the driveshaft or not but I changed everything from clutch to the hydraulic pieces (slave and master) but nothing

    1. Kas says

      Oh I’m having the same issue as you are mate.

  18. willie says

    dyna truck was stuck in gear . i pull gearbox and replace clutch kit with new pressure plate and selector cable but still cant get any gear

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