Car is popping out of 5th gear?

1991 Toyota Tercel 197,000 miles 5 speed is popping out of 5th gear, if I don"t hold my hand on the shifter it pops out. Any ideas on whats wrong and cost to fix it ? Thanks in advance…

Check for slack and proper adjustment of the linkage. Possibly 5th gear isn’t breing fully engaged. OTOH, there’s a good possibility that the synchronizer on 5th is worn out.

When was the last time you checked or changed the gear oil in the tranny? If now is the first time…dont bother…damage done already.

Without clean and sufficient gear lube…over time…this happens…and usually to 5th gear.

If its not that…check the linkages and trans mounts that could place undue stress on the throw or engagement of the shifter arm… Usually this is an internal trans issue however…esp with no gear oil checks or changes.


+1 for Rod Knox and Honda Blackbird.

It’s probably gong to be wear on the shift fork and sychronizer sleeve and/or the synchronizer hub assembly. That means transmission disassembly.
Viable if DIY; not economically viable if you have to pay someone.

Tranny fluid is fine sorry should of mentioned that I checked it. I am just trying to get some idea before bringing it in. Thanks for all of your impute !!

Tranny fluid is fine???

Does this mean that the fluid has 197,000 miles on it too.


Fluid was replaced twice since I got the car at 97,000 miles

When you put it into 5th gear, does it feel like the gear shift lever is sliding into a clip. All gears should feel like that. Run it through the gears, engine off, and as the shifter enters each gate, it should feel the same.

I think you will find that when you slide it into fifth, it does not feel the same, like the clip is broken or at least has gotten a lot weaker. There is a spring with a ball on the end that holds the shift linkage in each gears that gives you this feeling. On some transmissions, this is accessible from the outside, the transmission does not have to be disassembled. On others, no such luck.

You will need to see a transmission specialist for this. The down side, even if this is an easy fix, you don’t have much life left in the transmission.

My truck’s 4WD shift lever – you know, it uses that U shape pattern to shift between 4W Lo, 4W Hi, and 2WD – it has this same problem in 4W Lo, and according to the manual is caused by what @Keith mentions above, a faulty ball & spring mechanism.

Drain the tranny gear oil and refill with Lucas transmission gear treatment and fresh lube. You might get another few thousand out of it, it worked for me in my old Accord, same thing happened exactly, lasted another few years/thousands of miles. Rocketman

A bungie cord would be cheaper.

That’s what I use … lol . .

I’ve done a lot of work on manual transmissions and I still feel the problem is in the synchronizer hub assembly and/or the shift fork.

This might be especially true if the OP or anyone who owned the car before them has a tendency to drive with the hand resting on the gearshift lever. The weight of the hand slightly rolls the shift rail off off of the detent ball and causes the shift fork to rub on the synchronizer sleeve.
Eventually it rubs off enough material that the sleeve is bouncing back and forth on the worn fork and the trans will jump out of gear.

We used to get a LOT of this with Subaru manuals; especially on the 3/4 assembly and especially on cars that saw a lot of city driving. Drivers were often in 3rd or 4th gear yo-yoing back and forth due to traffic so they kept their hand on the gear lever.

OK, that’s why, with my current car, I’ve trained myself to keep my hand off of the shift lever when not using it. It’s an old habit I had to break myself of, and I managed to do it. Shift the transmission, hand back on the wheel.

Dr “Shift For Brains” Rocket

From what I can tell from reading the classic car-restore publications, when folks restore old classic-type cars with a lot of miles on them, when it comes to the manual transmission they tend to replace all the synchronizers as a matter of course. They may or may not replace the shift gating mechanisms or the bearings depending on how they look, but the synchronizers, yes.

You’re doing the right thing Dr. Rocket. Those Subaru manual transmission repairs have provided some of my best flat rate money. We would get about 8 hours to rip a trans apart and fix it.
I got to where I could pull a manual, replace a worn fork and synchro sleeeve, reinstall it, and have it out the door in under 4 hours although I always tried to spend a little time with the synchronizer rings which had a manufacturing issue of their own.