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2001 Civic Popping out of 2nd

I have a 2001 Civic Coupe EX. The shifting lever has never moved all that smoothly between gears. Last weekend on a hot day (90+), I accelerated from a stop in 1st and quickly moved into 2nd…probably earlier than I should have. The engine started revving as if I were in neutral. After some investigating, I noticed that the shifter had popped out of 2nd. If I hold it in place while I accelerate, it will stay there, but the intial mating seems to be a bit touchy.

I took this to a mechanic (whom I trust), and was told that it’s not a dire problem, and to fix it would mean a new transmission. I’ve read elsewhere of people who have had this problem, replaced their transmission ($$$), and not had the problem fixed. I’ve also read that the fix is to replace the Shift Lever Pilot Bushing and Shift Lever Seat. Is this accurate? Does it apply to my car?

I guess this is actually two questions…the non-smooth lever operation and the popping out of gear. Answer either one and I’ll appreciate it greatly.


Before replacing the transmission have the shifter linkage, cables, bushings, and lever seat looked at. Without the engine running the shifting should be free and like cutting butter. There should no lost motion or binding. You should be able to feel the positive detents. With the cables removed from the transmission gear selector, the selector can be run through the gears to see if the problem is internal. Sometimes a gear shift that does not positively engage a selected gear can cause damage to the transmission during operation. Anyway have someone who is familiar with Hondas look at the shifter and get any necessary parts replaced. If you put a new transmission in you would want to make sure the shifter doesn’t damage that one.

Hope that helps

Google your problem, I believe you will find this is a known problem for Honda. I have a friend who has lived with it for several years, just shifts 1, 3, 4, 5.
She decided it was not worth cost to repair for her car

You may have worn some internal transmission parts if your “powershifting” habits are frequent rather than rare. So check out the lessor stuff first and hope for the best. Perhaps the shift mechanism is out of adjustment due to your comment about the shifter not operating smoothly. If 2nd is not getting engaged completely it could then pop out of gear as you apply more torque.

Unfortunately if the shift linkage is OK then you are likely looking at a transmission overhaul. You then get to decide if holding it in 2nd with some pressure on the shifter is OK if you don’t have the $$ for a proper fix. Skipping 2nd is another option, just run it up a few more rpm’s in 1st then go to 3rd.

Powershifting is not a factor. I do however use engine braking a good bit to slow down. Would this cause similar problems?

I just called back the mechanic who I had look at it and he said he did check the shifter linkage, cables, bushings, and lever seat…so from the post above I assume that I do indeed need a transmission overhaul. How different in price is that going to be from a full transmission replacement? Any recommendations as to other things I should have fixed while he’s in there, or anything I shouldn’t let him touch?

I was going to ask if you did something to accelerate transmission wear, like not change the transmission oil on a regular basis, and now I have my answer. You will soon discover brake jobs are cheaper than transmission replacements. Stop downshifting and start using the brakes more.

I know downshifting is fun, but it will wear out both your transmission and your clutch, which are more expensive than brake jobs.

The only time you should be downshifting is when you are going down a long steep hill, and you want to control your speed without overheating the brakes. In almost all other circumstances, use the brakes.

Your choices are a used transmission, rebuilt transmission, new transmission, or rebuilding your current transmission.

Cheapest is the used transmission but you don’t know what you’ve got until you get it installed and see how it goes.

Most expensive is a new transmission which isn’t practical in an 8 year old car.

Rebuilding your current transmission is a matter of time out of service compared to a rebuilt unit. The rebuild are often done in a “factory” like setting and should be well done. Rebuilding your current tranny depends on who does it and how confident you are in their work.

Get prices on all the options and then make your decision.

Popping out of gear usually points to a worn shift fork or wear in the synchronizer assembly (hub, sleeve, inserts, etc.).

If you have a tendency to drive around with your hand resting on the gear lever then it’s a habit you should stop. This practice multiplies the amount of pressure your hand applies to the lever and places it against the shift fork and the synchronizer parts, which then leads to faster wear.

I don’t know if you’re prone to this habit or not; only pointing out a root cause behind the current problem if you are guilty of this.

Internal transmission parts for manuals are usually very pricy and often can only be gotten from the dealer. This makes the purchase of a good used or a remanufactured unit more feasible.

The “linkage” is usually a somewhat lacking multiple cable arrangement like a remote controlled rear-view mirror. Have that entire mechanism checked out before condemning the transmission…It’s a weakness in most FWD cars…

Agreed that inspection of the shift linkage is the first step but supposedly all of the linkage has been checked and found to be in order.

The OP also says they use engine braking quite a bit. Combine this with even a mildly dragging clutch and excessive wear can occur in the synchronizer assembly unless this downshifting occurs with the ease of a hot knife through butter.
The OP does state the car has never shifted smoothly (dragging clutch?) between gears anyway.