1985 toyota tercel. "in gear" even though its in neutral?

I have an old toyota, its relatively new and it has the following problem: I went to drive it and noticed that the shifter was feeling a bit funny. When I went to drive away, the car stalled. I thought I’d let it warm up a bit, started it up again shifted into neutral, let out the clutch pedal and it stalled. If I put it in neutral and slowly let out the clutch as if I were in 1st, the car will slowly pick up speed. If I let out the clutch fully, it will stutter as if it is about to stall. I seem to be able to shift into 3rd, 4th 5th and reverse gears, but not into 1st or 2nd.

Before this trouble, i was having difficulty shifting into 1st gear - the car would sometimes slip out of 1st at low speed, and you really had to push the stick hard to get it into 1st. There was a palpable ‘click’ that you had to feel before you could be confident that it would engage properly. otherwise you would get a horrible grinding sound at the stop light and sometimes it would stall

I don’t know anything about cars, but have done some googling and hypothesize that it may be that the collar has come detached from the stick and is stuck on 1st gear. this would explain why, when in neutral, the car acts as if its in 1st.

Any ideas? am I out to lunch. the next big question is how much would this be to fix? Would a full replacement of the transaxle be in order?

This should be easy and affordable for any competent mechanic to fix.
You’re probably going to need a part of two, but the drawing below should give you confidence that the parts are pretty cheap.


By the way, how does one get a “relatively new” 1985? Can I assume that you meant relatively new to YOU?

The parts in the link above are not going to work. Your only hope is to find a transmission in a pull a part, there are none in the system and none being made either.

What you have is a broken shift fork, that means a complete disassembly of the transmission. Toyota no longer has the gasket kit for reassembly, or bearing sets.

Your transmission is essentially the same as the one in the 4wd wagon, the difference is the tail shaft and the extra gear set for EL which is in the tail shaft. Check these guys out, they have a lot of information.


Try anyway. The link I posted is to an active site still selling parts. And there’s no possible way to know with certainty exactly what’s broken without actually looking.

SMB, I used to own one of these, the 86 4wd version and I had the FSM for it. The same transmission was used in both the FWD and 4WD versions except that the 4WD had a tailshaft added for the rear wheels. I have had that transmission out on a couple of occasions and I have worked on the linkage and I am telling you, that diagram in your link is NOT for the OPs car.

The one time I had symptoms like these it meant transmission replacement.

I guess if I had this problem on my Corolla the first thing I’d do is do a look-see at the cabling between the shifter and the transmission, see if there are any broken or worn out parts. An experienced mechanic could do that in a couple hours probably. A DIY’er might need more time b/c accessing the cable connection point can be a little frustrating and confusing.

This is a top loader transmission. The engine is longitudinal.

Do you mean the shifter is right above the transmission so there’s no cables used in this design @keith?

Yes, that is what I mean. It didn’t go transverse until 87.