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6 Reasons Why a Manual Transmission is Hard to Shift


In this article, we will discuss why cars with manual transmissions sometimes have shifting problems. Hard-to-shift manual transmission symptoms can almost always be boiled down to a clutch or transmission problem.

Keep in mind that if your car is a little harder to shift when the weather gets colder, you may not even have a problem because the gear oil increases as the temperature drops. This is normal, but changing brands (or even viscosity) can help. But read on to make sure.

Top 6 reasons why manual gearboxes are difficult to shift

When your stick shift transmission gradually becomes harder to shift or suddenly becomes harder to shift, the cause is almost certainly one of the following.

#1 – Clutch system

fly fly

A vehicle’s clutch system is responsible for disengaging and capturing power from the transmission between the engine flywheel. There are 6 main parts of a clutch system:

  • clutch master cylinder
  • Release cylinder
  • clutch cover
  • smart disk
  • landing release
  • Settlement range

The clutch disc and transmission input shaft mesh together. The clutch cover is attached to the flywheel.

When you press the clutch pedal, pressure is transmitted to the clutch master cylinder, which pushes the release cylinder and then presses the release fork to separate the clutch cover and clutch plate. At this point, your car is in neutral.

This means that engine rotation (power) is not transmitted to the transmission at this time. This allows you to change gears easily with a manual shift lever. However, if the clutch master cylinder or release cylinder is damaged, it will be more difficult to shift gears.

This can happen because if the master cylinder or loose cylinder is damaged or leaking, it can cause a loss of fluid pressure which can prevent the cover from separating properly.

If the clutch and engine are not separated properly, the manual transmission will be difficult to shift into any gear, or even unable to shift at all.

See also: 6 Signs of a Slipper Clutch

#2 – Synchronized Ring

Damaged clutch timing ring

The purpose of the synchronizer or synchronizer ring is to make the gear easy to use. The ring has small teeth that allow it to engage smoothly through the hub sleeve and then onto the main gear.

If the synchronizer ring were damaged or malfunctioning, it would be difficult to shift the transmission.

#3 – Gears

damaged transmission gears

The main component of manual transmission systems is the gear, which consists of counter gear, reverse gear, 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear, 4th gear, 5th gear, and sometimes 6th gear and more. Each gear has 2 small and large teeth.

The purpose of the smaller teeth is to accept the hub sleeve with the synchronizer ring. If these small teeth were damaged or worn, it would be difficult to move the transmission.

When a gear is changed, the function of the larger teeth is to engage the rotating counter gears that send a drive to the output shaft. If the large teeth are damaged or worn, the transmission will make a noise.

See also: Reasons why a car does not reverse

#4 – Gear Hub

Between two different gears hub gears are attached. For example, the hub sprocket shifts between first and second gear, and shifts between third and fourth gear. It’s really like a bridge between these gears.

Since the hub gear is attached to the drive shaft, it cannot rotate easily. Damaged or worn hub gear will cause problems when shifting the manual transmission.

#5 – Bucket Sleeve

The hub sleeve captures the main gears of the hub assembly. Depending on where you change gear, the hub sleeve may also move to the right or left. The hub gear is like the coupling release that is between the main gear and the hub gear.

The hub gear has small teeth that will synchronize with the teeth on the synchronizer ring when changing gears in the drive train. But if the sleeve hub was damaged or worn, it would be difficult to shift the transmission.

#6 – Not enough gear oil

clutch oil

It is gear oil, as opposed to transmission fluid for automatic transmissions, that lubricates the gears in a manual transmission. It is considered high viscosity (thick) because it must withstand extreme heat.

If your transmission is leaking oil or even if you don’t change it regularly, you will have little oil in the gear. When this happens, it will eventually become harder to shift and will eventually damage your transmission.

Additionally, you may hear strange noises coming from your gearbox or poor vehicle performance.

See also: How to identify your transmission


Ok, now you know the 6 common reasons why manual transmission is difficult to shift. The above causes often occur with high mileage cars and trucks and some years and models are very susceptible to hard shifting problems.

If you are curious and want to know exactly how a manual transmission works, watch the following video:




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