1995 Chevy 1500 Manual won't move in reverse

About half the time, my 2-wheel drive 1995 Chevy 1500 pickup with manual transmission doesn’t want to move when I put it into reverse (95,000 miles). This can happen when first backing out of the garage or it might happen after having driven for a while. When it happens, I shift to first, move forward a little, then try to go in reverse again. Sometimes that works. The truck shifts OK and doesn’t make any unusual sounds (it is in good condition). When it doesn’t go backwards it feels like the brakes are locked tight and if I were to release the clutch fully it would just stall. Any ideas what is going on?

Could be brakes, specifically rear brakes, could be transmission.

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Just a guess, but I’m thinking a problem with the rear brakes. You have drum brakes on the rear, right? They might be sticking and just need a little brake lube on the shoes & backing plate. Do you use the parking brake? If so that could be sticking too, for that more likely the cable needs lube. If I had that problem, first thing I’d do is remove the rear drums for a look-see. Another idea, the clutch master cylinder is problematic. Seems less likely than above, but possible. Does pumping the clutch pedal a couple times before shifting when this occurs help? Is the clutch fluid level ok?

When this occurs, are you able to stop the engine, get out, and push the truck to cause it to move?

Sound like the transmission is engaged in two gears at the same time. There may be a loose or worn shift fork causing first gear to remain engaged when shifting to reverse.

When shifting from first to reverse, shift from first to second gear, then shift to reverse to be sure first is fully disengaged.

Never experienced this myself, but I’ve heard that on some Ford 4WD transfer cases, they can develop a problem involving the shifting mechanism where they get in 4W Hi and 4W Lo at the same time, which causes the gears to lock in place. A no go situation.

I still think for the OP’s case the problem is most likely the brakes.

Yes, drum brakes on the rear. I only use the parking brake in rare cases when I leave the engine running and get out. Yesterday I backed it out and went from first to reverse a few times in the driveway without problems, then drove for a few miles, came back to the driveway, shifted to reverse and it wouldn’t move. With the clutch depressed and gear shift in reverse we could push it forward, but not back, same thing if put in neutral and same thing if both clutch in and neutral. Shifting from first to second then to reverse didn’t help, neither did pumping the clutch. Jacked up the rear and spun the passenger side tire in both directions, same thing with drivers side. Was able to back up so went for another drive. Came back and it wouldn’t move in reverse. Jacked up rear again and spun the drivers side but passenger side was hard to spin forward and wouldn’t go backward at all. There is a decent amount of rust on the drums and I was out of time so I didn’t remove. Parked the truck in the garage, it sat overnight and today it backed up OK. Went for a short drive and when I got home and put in reverse it backed up a few feet, felt like something tried to abruptly stop it, but then it continued to back up. Why would a brake issue allow it to move forward and not reverse. Thanks.

Sounds like there may be a problem with the rear differential.


Try jacking up/jack-standing both rear wheels, put the trans in gear, then manually rotate one of the wheels. Does the other wheel rotate but in the opposite direction? That would give you at least some idea about the rear differential situation. You could also disconnect the driveshaft to isolate the problem to either the transmission, or the rear axle (including the brakes). This test might not work if you have a traction locking rear diff, limited slip, posi-trak, etc.

I’m not sure if this applies to your truck, but for certain designs vintage 1960’s/70’s the parking brake stopped better in the forward direction than reverse for some reason.