Grinding gear in the cold

The car is a 09 Fusion, 5sd. manual with 32k. It was bought new in May of 09, when the weather was fairly warm. That first winter, usually when it got down into the 40’s, shifting between 1st and 2nd would result in a grind. This would only occur for the first two or three shifts. Taking it to the dealer resulted in a “they all do that” diagnosis.

I’m now going into another winter, the weather is getting cold and it’s doing it again. Curiously, it’s not as bad as it was. You can feel a slight hitch when shifting into 2nd now, not really a grind anymore. However, the warranty expiration is coming up, and I’m going to take it in soon to be looked at again.

I’m hopeful a used 5sd man. will be on the lot so I can test drive it should the “they all do it” diagnosis come up again. But, I’m curious as to what would cause the issue in the first place. I had a '95 manual trans. Escort Gt that would sometimes shift stiffly in the extreme cold, but that didn’t manifest itself until the car had about 250k on it. Why would a new car, with new fluid in it do this, and why only in colder weather?

Thanks for any input!

How quickly do you shift? If you let the engine idle for a minute with the pedal down and the transmission in any gear and find that the grinding disappears it is likely the pilot dragging.

I shift slowly when cold, I guess average once the car is warmed up. Lately I’ve been going 1st to third when cold to avoid the issue.
Thanks for the advice, I’ll try it out when I go out later and post back.

I started the car cold and let it idle for a couple minutes. I pushed in the clutch and went through the gears, no issues. After leaving the driveway it did stick a bit going into second. If it is the pilot (what is that?) dragging, why only when cold?

Does anyone have an idea on this? Thanks!

At what rpm are you upshifting in the cold weather? I recommend short shifting between 1st to 2nd (say 1000 or 1500 rpm). I’ve been using this technique for many years. My '92 Accord also grinds in cold weather if I don’t do this. After it’s warm you can shift normally (+3000 rpm). My car has 272,000 miles on original clutch & transmission.

There’s some additives available for manual transmissions. I tried one of them once, but didn’t notice any difference. I think it was Slick 50 for manual transmissions.

The pilot bearing supports the front, exposed end or the input shaft of the transmission on most manual transmissions. It is a very simple bushing or needle bearing that is lubricated with heavy grease which when cold becomes nearly tacky and the input shaft can be pulled by the spinning crankshaft with enough force to overcome the synchronizers. When the engine is allowed to idle with the transmission in gear and the clutch depressed the pilot is spun enough to liquify the grease and allow the input shaft to spin independent of the engine’s crankshaft.

Your dealer may be correct. My three previous cars ranging from 1984 to 1996 with 5 speed manual transmissions all would grind a little when shifting into second gear when cold. Two were Chevrolets and the other was a VW. Our newest car, an 09 Chev Cobalt with a 5 speed does not grind when shifting into second when cold. Finally someone got it right.

several front wheel drives have stubbed off inputs with no pilot bearing. The old VW rabbits and Mopars with the VW drive train had an unusual set up with the pressure plate attached to the crank shaft with the flywheel attached to the pressure plate and operating the reverse of all other clutches. Of course it had no pilot.