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Hyundai pops out of gear - 2 dealerships can't (or won't) find problem

I have a 2009 Hyundai Accent which pops out of gear when I am driving in 4th or 5th. This started 2 months ago, in 4th, but happened in 5th while on a trip from Maryland to Michigan July 30. I took it to the 1st Hyundai dealership I came to (Sparksville, OH) and a sales rep drove it and confirmed the problem but said it was safe to drive if I kept my hand on the gear shift and held it in gear. After a while of driving I could not even hold it in 5th, and I drove all the way from Ann Arbor to Baltimore with it in 4th, my hand holding it in gear all the way. I drove immediately to the dealership where I bought it, and the “mechanic” did not experience the pop out. On the way home from the dealership, it popped out 3 times in a 12 mile trip. I took it to another dealership, same result. I am not comfortable driving this car, especially since I have to keep one hand on the wheel and one hand on the gear shift knob if I am in 4th or 5th. The car is still under warranty. What do I say to the service people to get them to experience and acknowledge the problem so I can get this repaired?

I can only suggest working your way up their supervisory food chain. You could try writing a letter to them, stating what the problem is, and since they can’t fix it you will take it to a transmission shop, on their dime, and ask them to sign it.

They’ll baulk at the thought, but they might pay attention to you. I’m not sure if lemon laws can help you at this point, but be sure you have documentation.

Next time they want to “experience” the problem themselves, take them for a ride, rather than just letting them take it.

A common reason that a manual transmission pops out of gear is bad gear synchronizers. Those are internal to the transmission & the problem requires rebuild or replacement of the transmission. As chaissos said, work your way up the chain until someone at Hyundai takes it seriously.

When you do this, make sure that everyone knows that some sales rep told you to drive it my holding it in gear. Holy cow. I’d say this is someone who belongs behind the counter in fast food, but s/he would probably make a mess there as well.

Do you spend a lot of time in those 2 gears and have a habit of driving with your hand resting on the gearshift while the transmission is in those 2 particular gears?

If so, that could be the cause of this problem which is often due to worn shift forks, worn synchronizer sleeve, and possibly a worn sychronizer hub/inserts.

An '09 is pretty young (mileage?) for a problem like this to surface but worn shift forks, sleeves, etc is at least a possibility depending on the hand resting situation and the mileage.
There could also be a problem with the transmission itself that is not owner inflicted such as excessive mainshaft or countershaft end play, weaked or broken detent springs, etc.

This is one of those problems that will not go away on its own and will get worse with time. Keep the pressure on Hyundai to fix the problem. Make sure you keep all documentation and be relentless in your pursuit. Good luck.

“What do I say to the service people to get them to experience and acknowledge the problem so I can get this repaired?”

Make an appointment with the Service Manager/Director. At the appointment say, “Let’s both go for a little road trip. You drive !”

If this approach hits a snag, schedule an appointment with the Hyundai Service / Parts Zone Representative and repeat the road trip.

Do you have any other symptoms ? A clunk on acceleration or deceleration or clutch chatter when starting to move ? I’m wondering about engine/transmission mounts, but one way or another, once a transmission is allowed to keep popping out of gear then there will no doubt be damage, whatever the cause. The more it pops, the worse it will be.


Document all transactions with the dealership.
Keep all receipts. In many states, by law, the dealer must give you a receipt every time you bring it in to get this problem fixed. Even if they simply say “No problem found”.

You never know if someday you’ll be faced with the choice of spending a big chunk of your own money to get it fixed, or pursuing it with your state’s lemon law. Keeping all paperwork now will keep that 2nd option open if you need it.