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1983 Chevette and hot weather

My 1983 4-speed manual transmission Chevette won’t go into reverse when the temperature is over 75 degrees and I drive more than 5 miles. This started a year after I bought the car (new). The transmission was replaced in 1991 at 44,796 miles. The ‘reverse problem’ was cured for a year and then started again. The clutch assembly was replaced in 2006 at 60,115 miles and did not solve the reverse problem–but did solve my clutch problem!

No problems with reverse at any other time. The Mighty Chevette currently has 62,680 miles.

Any suggestions–and no I WILL NOT get rid of the car.

Could you be more specific about what happens when you try but cannot get it into reverse. Does the shifter go into the correct slot and have the correct feel? Is the shifter feel different when it will not go into reverse? With the engine off will the shifter go into reverse? Then when you start the engine with the clutch disengaged, can you reverse? Do you get any grinding when you try to get into reverse?

Your answers will help us help you.

Is the cat converter near the shift linkage?
Could be a missing heat shield. Plastic/rubber linkage parts could be getting hot, soft and sticky. Get the shift linkage bushings checked/replaced. They aren’t expensive.

Nothing happens when I try to shift into reverse; it’s like there’s something blocking the action. I can’t even depress the shifter to move it over. Doesn’t matter if the engine is on or off. No grinding, no nothing.

Thank you!!

Actually I don’t know if the catalytic converter is near the shift linkage. Will consult my trusty Chevette book.

I’m glad it’s not an expensive repair although the Chevette gets whatever it needs!

Many thanks.

I wonder if the manual transmission on your Chevette has the correct fluid/grease? If you have the owner’s manual, it should specify the lubricant for the transmission. Although it’s a long shot, a long time Chevrolet dealer might be able to find the answer if you don’t have the manual or let you know if there was some sort of revised specification. Changing the transmission lubricant shouldn’t be expensive.

One other idea–if there is an independent transmission shop in your area that does work on manual transmissions, this shop might have an answer.

Will check that, too. Last time I took the Chevette to a Chevrolet dealer was in 1992–and I was told that no one in the shop could work on the car because it was too old and no one knew what to do. Fortunately there have independent shops who love working on my car. I just haven’t followed up on the reverse problem because it’s only a problem 3 months of the year.


I may be the only one but I am a chevette fan too!
Its got to be a shifter or linkage problem.

checked my records; the heat shield was removed (loose and rattling) but this was after the reverse problem–although there may be a connection. the chevette’s birthday is soon, new linkage parts will be its present.

it’s nice to know there are others out there! a local car show didn’t believe i would actually enter the chevette, and didn’t want to let me in!

have you heard of any other chevettes with the reverse problem? i haven’t brought it up with the guys currently taking care of the car.


Have you tried shifting into another gear with the clutch depressed and then shifting into reverse? I used to do this with an 83 Mustang with a balky reverse.

That’s how I have to shift into reverse in my Stingray. I’ll try it on the Chevette when the weather warms up later this week. Thanks!

I researched the 1983 Chevette and now realize that it was a rear wheel drive vehicle. If you have the GM 70mm transmission, 4 speed, the shifter is on the tail shaft and the selector is inside the case. When you have the blockage problem, remove the shifter and see if you can get the transmission into the reverse gate then push foreward(?) to see if reverse will engage. You probably do not have the T-5, 5 speed, overdrive transmission as the reverse slot is the same as that for 5th.

One thing to check is that the transmission is filled with the correct amount and type of fluid.

If the selector is the one blocking entry into the reverse slot, there is not much else to do but remove the transmission and repair or replace the selector. I am wondering if there are used Chevette transmissions in the bone yard by now. It might be cost effective to get one of these and exchange yours. Alternately, you could keep the exchange and experiment on the present one to learn about how it works and how to repair it.

I laud your desire for keeping this unique example of automotive history in running condition. This must have been GMs attempt to compete with the Nissan and Toyota RWD econosedans. Is there a Vega in your future? Keep us appraised of your progress.

Will check–I’m not sure if the selector was replaced with the entire transmission in '91. I’ve been avoiding downtime with the car but may have to turn it over to “my guys” at the repair shop.

There used to be an all-Chevette restoration shop/car reserve just up the road. They converted plain Chevettes into racing Chevettes. There’s a nearby track that has special Chevette events. Who said Ohio was boring??

The Chevette was my first (and only) new car. I traded up from a '72 Gremlin. It’s been very reliable in its limited duty, fortunately it has had good care for most of its life (for about 3 years I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to work on it so it had substandard care. I still feel guilty.) But a Vega is not on the list.

Thank you for your research. I’ll post a note when it’s been fixed.

This Chevette forum might be able to help:

thanks! I’m glad I’m not alone. I tried an internet search, first thing I got back was ‘did you mean Corvette?’. No respect.