CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

05 Honda Civic 5spd, drops out of 5th gear

157k original miles, and I bought it new. 1-4th gear no issues. Revearse has always been hard to shift into and sometimes misses getting into gear, but the car has had that quirk since i bought it new in 05. Last month driving home I was cruising in 5th gear and the car just dropped out of gear into neutral. No gear grinding, no noticable noises at all. just suddenly slowed down and when i went to grab the stick its was neutral. Sice then it did it alot the following week, but now has stopped.
I’ve talked to a few different mechanics and gotten a few different diagnosise. First the cluth. Another said the transmission, but “we might as well do the clutch since we have it in the shop”. Now another mechanic says its just the clutch linkage bushing.
Obviously I want the cheapest way to go, but at the same time I need to fix it right since its my only car.
Does anybody have ideas and why you think that’s what it is?

Many times this is caused by a problem with wear on the shift fork and/or the synchronizer assembly as a whole.
Do you have a tendency to drive sometimes with your hand resting on the gearshift lever while in 5th gear? If so, this habit (which many have without thinking about it) can contribute to the above wear situation.

Dropping out of gear is not directly related to the clutch. Difficulty getting into reverse, i.e. grinding, and meeting resistance when shifting into 1st when stopped are indications of the clutch dragging, though. When a transmission drops out of gear when coasting down it is most often due to worn synchronizer hubs or play in the output shaft. It might be wise to check the oil level before driving. Are you driving 20,000 miles annually? If so driving w/o OD can be somewhat costly but possibly less than the cost of replacing the transmission. When a shop is adamant that they might as well put in a clutch when they are not certain of the real problem indicates they want the most out of the deal with little concern for your best interest. The cheapest way to go would be to top off the transmission oil, check the hydraulic clutch reservoir and adjust the clutch it there is grinding when shifting into reverse and drive on, paying attention to the transmission when cruising in OD and if it drops out depress the clutch, shift fully to neutral and then re-engage OD. At some point the transmission will lose OD and you can compare the cost of decreased fuel mileage to the repair/replace cost. It won’t be cheap.

Also, there is a spacer bar in the shift linkage that could possibly be involved with the drop out but when it fails all gears forward or all gears aft usually fail at the same time.

If the shift linkage is adjusted properly and it pops out of gear, it’s an internal transmission problem…I agree that at 150K miles, you might as well replace the clutch too…

Few general repair shops repair manual transmissions (or automatics) The usual procedure is to install a rebuilt unit obtained from a dealer or transmission specialist…

Check the shift linkage first. Next would be the clutch linkage. Not sure if your car has hydraulic clutch or cable, be either way, both are easy for a mechanic to check. Next I’d check the transmission oil level, again easy to do. If ieverything checks out fine, either you are gonna have to just live w/it, or start saving up some $$$ for a transmission/clutch inspection and possible overall by a pro.

Revearse has always been hard to shift into and sometimes misses getting into gear, but the car has had that quirk since i bought it new in 05.

Being hard to shift into reverse in a NEW car is not a “quirk”, it’s a defect. Please tell us that you went back to the dealer right away and complained politely (and relentlessly) about this defect.

I can’t help but wonder if the present problem with 5th gear is in some way a result of driving 157,000 miles with a transmission displaying an obvious issue. Clearly there was something wrong from the beginning with this car. I can’t imagine accepting that in a brand new car.

If you are lucky, the original problem with reverse was linkage adjustment, and if you are very lucky, that’s also the problem now. I hope so. Good luck!

How frequently have you had the manual transmission fluid replaced? Hopefully it is a linkage problem that was not allowing the transmission to fully engage 5 gear and an adjustment will take care of it. If there is internal wear then the fix would involve removing off the transmission to repair it. That would jump up your costs considerably.

Get the linkage checked for any loose, broken parts. Then have the linkage adjusted and tested. I don’t think this is tricky on the Civic, but to be sure it might be best to have a dealer check this out. There aren’t that many manual trans civics out there so many mechanics wouldn’t have seen many over the years.

It’s not the gear oil and it’s not the clutch…It’s the linkage or it’s an internal mechanical problem…