Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2008 Honda Fit Manual - The Trouble with Reverse?

I have a 2008 Honda Fit Manual with 128000 kms on it. Its been a great car but I’ve had a recurring issue with getting the shifter into reverse ever since I bought the car - numerous techs have looked at it over the past 6 years and “nothing is wrong”. I digress, the problem is that I have a heck of a time getting the car into reverse sometimes, not all the time but fairly consistently. I have the clutch all the way in, I’m certainly not grinding the gears or anything. It happens in hot, mild and cold weather, damp and dry, on an incline, not on an incline…I think you may get the picture. The only thing I can do to successfully get the car into reverse is to put the shifter into first gear, let the clutch out slowly and then attempt reverse again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t - this trick is something the dealership mentioned to me.

I’ve been driving manual transmissions for over 20 years - Volvo, GM, Toyota, Subaru, BMW & some lovely Italians but I have never experienced this type of issue before and in my experience of driving I certainly do not consider this to be normal. Although the dealership has investigated and advised me that this is indeed within the realm of reasonable. Any advice on what to look at would be great as my warranty on this is about to come to an end. Thx

I’ve had this issue bothwith my Toyota truck and Supra. Alot of times, throwing it into 1st, 2nd, or 3rd allows me to drop it into reverse. Seems like the cogs will line up just right to prevent the gears from meshing until you can get them to rotate just a hair. I’ve learned to live with it, since the only real cure would be to crack open the transmission and clean up the cogs.

Hard to know for sure without taking it apart, but I suspect a warped clutch disc as a possibility. When you engage a forward gear, it stops the trans input shaft, so that you can make the quick shift to reverse without a problem.

One more thing. The clutch disc, for warranty purposes, will be considered a “wearing part”, which moves it out from under the warranty umbrella.

There could be enough wear on the clutch and/or the the release point of the clutch could be off enough to cause this.

Regarding warranty, that will generally not pay for a clutch as that is considered a wear item just like brakes, belts, and so on.

Without hands on the car it’s impossible to tell what’s going on exactly.

I’ve had the same condition with my Nissan pickup since I’ve owned it.

Some vehicles have a straight cut reverse gear with no synchroniser. So when you try to shift into reverse the teeth between the two gears line up and the transmission doesn’t want to go into reverse.

When this happens to me, I just shift into first gear and move the vehicle ever so slightly forward. I am then able to shift the transmission into reverse.


I think @BustedKnuckles and @Tester are on to something here. It’s the same technique that I used on my Nissan Sentra and it works. I’ve also seen the problem on my brother’s Toyota truck when I drove it. I see a pattern developing here.

Thanks for the feedback. I will be speaking with the dealership about the possibility of a warped clutch disc. Since I have record of this problem dating back to 4 months from the time of purchase with Honda the service advisor thinks that warranty would cover it as its not wear and tear.

The dealership doesn’t want to pull open the transmission for diagnostic purposes as the time to do so may not be covered under warranty and they would then have to eat the cost.

I just haven’t heard of anyone else reporting this problem with their Fit so I am suspicious that something may be causing this. Its a little stressful when you try to pop the car into reverse to move quickly and it doesn’t cooperate. Sometimes it goes half way in but when you let the clutch out it produces an odd sounding noise.

I suspect you mean a ratcheting sound. These are the cog gears grinding against each other as one moves and the other doesn’t because they are not meshed.

You should get a good feel for when each gear is 100% engaged and never let the clutch otherwise. My Civic 5-speed always needed a firm shove to get it into reverse.

I’ve had difficulty sometimes getting into Reverse in both my late 70’s VW Rabbit and my early 90’s Corolla. I think this is just a compromised built into the way cars works. There’s only so much room to put stuff inside the transmission case, so there’s bound to be some difficulties with engaging some of the gears, so they decided its better to be able to easily get it into third gear, reverse is less important, so they put the problematic engagement on the reverse gear.

The other possibilities are there’s a mechanic problem with the transmission, the clutch, the flywheel, there’s air in the hydraulic clutch system, or the clutch pedal is incorrectly adjusted.

I guess you check the transmission oil level is ok. No harm in doing that. And if it is time – according to the owners manual – to change it, might as well do that. But as long as you can get it to go into reverse using the technique of shifting into first gear initially, me, I’d just live with this problem. It’s a minor inconvenience and trying to fix it might result in worse problems.

A worn pilot bearing can also cause a reverse gear gnash; all assuming the clutch operation is as it should be as to free play, engagement point, and so on.

As far as I know, most manual transmissions have straight cut or very close to straight cut gears on their reverse gear sets with no synchronizer assemblies. That is also why a manual transmission will whine while backing a car up.
Some even have straight cut 1st gear assemblies which will cause a noticeable whine.