Hard to put jeep in first gear and grinds when putting in reverse

jeep
engines
wrangler
transmissions
clutches

#1

I have a 5 speed 99 Jeep Wrangler and when the car is running, it’s extremely hard to put the car into first gear from a standstill. However, once it’s in gear, shifting is fairly normal but still offers a little resistance. I feel like I have to wiggle it into gear. When putting the car in reverse from a standstill, the gears grind terribly.

Once the car is off, shifting is still difficult until I put it in reverse. Somehow, this “fixes” the problem and everything shifts smooth as a dream until I start the engine and then it’s a 50/50 shot until it eventually fails later on.

On different forums people have talked about synchonizers or pilot ball bearings or a pressure leak, but there is no definitive answer.


#2

There is no definitive answer unless someone can inspect the truck and rule out some of those possibilities. Have you checked the fluid level? It sounds like the clutch is not fully releasing, but someone will need to actually look at it to determine if that is the problem. It could turn out to be as simple as bleeding the clutch, but you may need a new slave and master cylinders.


#3

Your clutch is not completely releasing, so it’s as if you’re trying to shift without stepping on the clutch at all.

Here’s how you test it to verify whether the clutch is releasing or not:

Engine off, put the transmission in first gear.
Push the clutch ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR
Start the engine
Without letting the clutch up, put the transmission in neutral, wait a second, then put it back in reverse.

If there’s any grinding the clutch is not releasing.
This can be because of a failing hydraulic clutch master or slave cylinder, low hydraulic fluid, worn clutch and or pressure plate or even a failed pilot bushing/bearing.


#4

My first suspect would be a faulty clutch master cylinder. Assuming it has a hydraulic activated clutch, which is probably the case in a 1999. As mentioned above, check to make sure the fluid level in the clutch master cylinder is full and the fluid appears clear and clean, not full of sludge. When the clutch MC begins to fail, the driver will usually notice if they pump the clutch a couple of time it will work ok. For a while at least. If you notice this, that would be consistent w/needing a new clutch MC.


#5

I agree wiht all the above


#6

also having the same problem with my 2000 jeep tj i find when stopped pressing the the clutch and putting it into 4th gear first then into 1st helps to release the clutch .


#7

Shifting to 4th gear to prevent grinding when shifting to 1st or reverse causes some extreme wear on the 4th gear synchronizer.


#8

First, if there is a rubber floor mat on top of the factory carpet/mat remove it. That is often the cause for your problem.

Of course you should check the master cylinder and top it off if necessary.and bleed the slave cylinder.


#9

A worn or dragging clutch will cause a hard shifting problem.

Continued use of a dragging clutch will cause wear in the synchronizer rings and hubs and eventually damage to gear teeth.


#10

Decades ago when I owned and drove British sports cars lacking a first gear synchronizer I was advised by a mechanic with 30+ years repairing their transmissions to shift from neutral to second gear before engaging first. I have since done that with various M/Ts suffering zero transmission problems. Does a shift from 4th gear to first or reverse result in extra wear? I’m not questioning your knowledge only asking for shared knowledge.


#11

Really, even when stopped and the clutch pedal is depressed? That’s a new one for me. I’ve never tried that method to shift into a stubborn 1st or R though. I usually just shift back into neutral, and re-clutch, and try again. Usually works the first or second time. Just curious, why would shifting into 4th, N, then into 1st, stopped, at idle and clutch depressed, affect the 4th syncro?

Make sure the idle rpm is to spec. If it is too fast shifting into 1st and R will be more difficult.


#12

Yes, old non synchro 1st gear transmissions could be quickly shifted from idling in neutral to 1st by shifting to 4th before engaging 1st. But that was because doing so only required the synchro to stop the momentum of the spinning countershaft. If the clutch is dragging shifting into 4th requires the synchro to stop the counter shaft, input shaft and clutch plate momentum along with whatever drag is being exerted on the clutch plate. It’s a heck of a lot to stop with a 1/4 inch wide 3 inch diameter soft copper ring and it won’d last long doing so.

Those old transmissions could be shifted silently from neutral to the non synchro 1st by stepping on the clutch and waiting a few seconds with the heavy oil stopping the counter shaft.


#13

I was inquiring about 2nd to first gear. Not 4th to first. I have done this with BMC, Mazda, Fiat, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and my current Kia 4, 5, and 6 speed M/Ts for decades with no transmission damage. The 4 BMCs I have owned and several others I have driven used 30W motor oil in their transmissions. Hardly considered a “heavy” oil.


#14

It doesn’t matter which gear is engaged first but the higher the gear the easier it is to engage and stop the momentum of the counter shaft. The technique has been around for a long time with everyone developing their own peculiar flair for getting the car moving. Like double clutching it’s just a way to get things to work smoother when operating a manual transmission.

The OP’s problem is a dragging clutch though. And overcoming that dragging clutch by shifting into a higher gear before selecting 1st or reverse will cause a great deal of wear to the synchronizers.


#15

Ah, I see. So @George_Garrido1 (post 5 above) solution is probably to address a dragging clutch problem. Master or slave clutch cylinders, or air in clutch hydraulics, etc.


#16

Thank you for the clarification.