My Manual Transmission Is Hard To Shift Into First And Reverse, Why?

Jim Jennings Transmission Baltimore

It's hard to shift into first and reverse because the clutch is not working properly. The purpose of the clutch is to disconnect the transmission from the spinning engine. When you depress the clutch pedal, the friction portion of the clutch (clutch disc) is allowed to move away from the turning flywheel which is spinning with the engine's crankshaft. When the clutch is no longer touching the flywheel, the gears in the transmission slow down or stop moving and normal shifting into first or reverse takes place.

Hard, and sometimes impossible shifting into first and reverse is caused by the clutch disc not moving away from the spinning flywheel. This is commonly referred to as the "clutch is not releasing". The number one cause is the hydraulic system that operates the clutch is leaking and has low fluid. Check the level in the clutch's master cylinder mounted on the firewall and add brake fluid if it is low and get it checked out.

Another cause of a shifting problem is the pressure assembly, also called a pressure plate, is simply wearing out. The pressure assembly actually traps the clutch disc between itself and the flywheel when the clutch pedal is not depressed and releases the clutch disc when depressed. Age and miles cause the springs in the pressure plate to fatigue and usually requires a complete clutch job.