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Honda's 5th-Gear (Manual Transmission) Pops-Out Into Neutral

Hello, my 92 Honda Accord Ex’s(2-door)5th-gear (Manual Transmission) pops-out into neutral every time I attempt to shift from 4th to 5th gear. This problem started last Tuesday, Feb. 10th while driving on the freeway on my way to work . All six gears(including reverse) work just fine. Just 5th gear pops-out into neutral every time I’ve attempted to shift from fourth to fifth gear while driving. Fifth-gear just won’t work, and the 1 to 2 times that I’ve experimented in trying to hold it into place, it would faithfully push-back and shake right into neutral. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I might have been successful in shifting from 4th to 5th only once (driving at a lower speed of approx. 30 to 35 mph.). This would have happened yesterday, but now I’m doubting myself, because after that, I once again attempted to drive using my fifth gear, but with no success.

Therefore, I would like to figure-out whether it’s a small, simple easily replaceable 5th-gear part issue, or an expensive transmission-related problem. My car has approximately 385,000 miles and runs pretty good. I would also like to know whether or not it’s advisable for me to continue driving my car to work -I work approximately 12-miles away? If not, what is the worst case scenario, if I continue driving my car. Now, I understand you might not be able to give me a clear-cut, full-on guaranteed diagnosis on my car, but I will appreciate your direction and clarity in relation to any possible problem/s my car might be having. Just like most consumers, I too would like to have access to the smartest and most affordable options available to me. Thank you, and I’ll be awaiting your response and help. God bless!

You could have someone check the shift linkage, but I’m betting the problem is inside the transmission. You can continue to drive the car, but I think you should now consider it a 4-speed, and stop trying to shift into 5th.

Opening the transmission will be neither easy nor inexpensive. If this were my car I’d be happy to have gotten 385K miles out of it, and I’d keep on driving it, just the way it is (with four forward gears), for as long as possible. I would not, however, spend money trying to repair the transmission.

I would, instead, start saving money for another car.

This is a typical symptom of a manual transmission that is on its last leg. I am afraid the only real solution is probably going to involve a new or rebuilt transmission.

Until you told me that you couldn’t hold it in 5th gear, I was going to suggest you use a bungee cord to hold it in gear. Since you can’t hold it in gear, that may not be an option.

If you can find a way to drive to work without getting on the highway, do it in 4th gear.

This car is 17 years old with 385,000 miles on it. It might be time to retire it if you don’t want to spend money getting this fixed. The transmission will only get worse.

The thing inside the transmission that is likely gone is the 5th gear “synchronizer” and, though as mcp suggested it would be wise to just double check for binding or stuck linkage, fixing it would require a trans overhaul. That is very expensive and I would stop short of doing something that extreme on a car that old w/ that many miles on it.

You can continue to drive it perfectly safely using up to 4th gear.

Thanks for your prompt and attemptive reply! I will be visiting a couple of mechanics today. And yes, I agree, I am very blessed and thankful to be nearing 400k miles in my Honda! Both in honor of my first Japanese car -an 84 Mazda GLC- and now my Honda, my 3rd car will definitely have to be another Japanese car. Most likely a Honda. They’re very faithful automobiles -just like dogs! Well, once again, thanks a million for your help. As soon as I have a concrete diagnosis, I will follow you-up on it. Now, I live in the 90814 Long Beach area. Do you happen do know of any reputable, yet affordable mechanic/s near my area? Now, as a busy teacher, I will make sure that my colleagues, friends, and family know about “Car-Talk”, and any possible mechanic/s you might recommend. This is such a cool resource -especially for us females! I have a lot of friends and family that I know can benefit from this site -and from a good, affordable, and honest mechanic. If I am satisfied with the mechanic’s job, I will go-out of my way to recommend him/her/them to everyone I know! I’ll be awaiting your follow-up referral. Thanks and God bless!

The problem is more than likely due to wear of the synchronizer hub, synchronizer sleeve, and hub inserts or a worn 5th gear shift fork.
It could be normal wear due to high mileage and being in 5th gear a lot or it could have been helped along if you have a habit of resting your hand on the gearshift lever. This habit will cause excessive wear of the synchronizer assembly parts and shift fork.

At that mileage there will not be, nor should there, a partial repair of the 5th gear assembly. This would mean a complete transmission overhaul and considering the car’s age and mileage it is simply not worth it as hard parts for a manual transmission can be very pricy.

However, if the car runs well now I would dig around on eBay, Craigslist, etc. and try to come up with a good used unit. The transmissions are not that hard to change out and it could be worth going this route. Hope that helps.