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Why Is It So Hard to Shift Into First Gear Unless at A Dead Stop?

After fully practicing the automotive and gear-changing skills, you must have noticed that it’s quite hard to shift into first gear. Well, what you experience is by design and work that needs to be performed by the synchronizer in the transmission process.

To understand it better and avoid damaging the car’s transmission system, let’s delve deeper into the working of it.

Why is it Hard to Shift into First Gear?

Usually, in a manual transmission, the first gear is only used for starting the vehicle. This is because the first gear is unsynchronized and the ratio difference between the first and second gear is too large. What does “ratio” mean here? Well, before that let’s understand the concept of “synchronization.”

It is actually the process of shifting directly from one gear to another by pressing the clutch pedal. However, if the gears are not synchronized, the process will make it difficult to shift gears. Now, turning towards the concept of the ratio in transmission, let’s consider an example. In an advanced car, the first gear’s ratio is 3.6:1. This means the gear completes one rotation on every 3.6 rotation of the crankshaft. Similarly, for the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth gear the set ratio is 2.1:1, 1.4:1, 1:1, 0.8:1, and 0.7:1, respectively.

With this defined ratio, you can observe that the difference between the gear ratio gets smaller as you go for the higher gears. In other words, it’s easy to shift into new higher gear, as they are able to match up the engine speed every time you change it.

4-Speed Manual Transmission:

Hard to shift into first gear problems
Issues of hard to shift into first gear

As you know that the ratio difference of 1st and 2nd gear is too large. Therefore, initially, the input shaft has to spin a little higher in a minute when you move into the 1st gear. Similarly, you can encounter the same level of difficulty when trying to down-shift the gear.

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So, if you really wish to overcome this issue of hard to shift into first gear, look for the possible solution ahead.

Hard to Shift into First Gear: Solution

The ultimate solution to downshift the gear from second to first involves double clutching process (as said earlier). In other words, you need to bring the car into neutral state directly from the second gear and then, move into the first gear. For better comprehension, look at the systematic procedure below:

  • Press the clutch pedal,
  • Move the shifter from second to neutral,
  • Release the clutch pedal,
  • Again, Press the clutch pedal,
  • Move the shifter from neutral to first now, and
  • Finally, release the clutch pedal.
Solving Hard to shift into first gear problems
How to solve Hard to shift into first gear problems

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Following this method orderly will avoid any damage to the transmission, as the speed of the engine would be able to match the gear speed. For the drivers of automatic cars, this issue shouldn’t cause any worries. As the downshift from second to first gear is performed automatically.

Finally, hope these gear changing driving tips are helpful in resolving the problem of hard to shift into first gear. And, extend the life of the transmission system in your beloved car.

3 Comments
  1. Faizan says

    Thanks for your explanation. I have the same issue with my car when approaching the speed breaker, i slow down my car and then shift the car into first gear this makes grinding sound for one second at approx speed of 20 km/h because speed breaker is also on slope higher . So
    1. If I use the the double clutch technique ,it will not make sound?
    2. Will I have to give some accelerator or not during this process?

    Please guide me for better technique of shifting from second to first during slowing down to avoid grinding sound.

  2. Tiberiu says

    amazing explanation! Thank you !
    You should make a youtube video on this subject !

  3. Atiq Ur Rahman says

    I am a beginner driver and faced same issue time & again. Your explanation is surprising, thanks. You may also make a YouTube video for learners on the said subject…
    I will contact you people in future to purchase a cheaper but latest model car… Thanks for the information shared with us 👍

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