Manual Trans Shift Studder after towing

I have a 2005 Nissan Frontier with a manual transmission (~6500 pound towing capacity). I rented a large woodchipper this weekend. On the ride home from the rental pickup, the transmission started studdering when shifting. It is most noticible when shifting into first gear from a standstill, and less noticeable on each successive shift. Once the gear is fully engaged, there is no studder - it is only when letting out the clutch that there is the studder. The truck only has 50k miles on it. Any ideas?

You may have a failing motor mount or transmission mount.

Are you sure the clutch is working normally? In particular is it disengaging completely. Reverse on many transmissions does not have a syncro on it, so does it grind when you go from neutral to reverse. Test, idle in neutral for a few moments, then depress clutch and move gear shifter to reverse - grind or not?

I’m inclined to suggest that perhaps the driver simply isn’t used to operating the clutch with the large drag on the vehicle.

I read the line “it is only when letting out the clutch that there is a shudder” to indicate that the problem was either in the clutch or the mounts.

I’m having a hard time believing that the little Tundra can tow 6500 lbs. I checked the web and it’s listed right. The largest engine that the Tundra offered in 2005 was a 4 liter V6. Combine that with a standard shift vehicle and the shudder is no surprise. Most RV places use 70% of the vehicle rating for safe towing and some use around the 50% range. Manufacturers list the highest rating possible but most don’t live in the real world when it comes to towing. Your truck can pull 6500 lbs but “towing” is a whole new ballgame if you want to do it safely.

If the mounts are good then I’d have to think the clutch is the cause; maybe due to burned spots on the flywheel and a glazed disc.
Fifty thousand miles is not that much but depending on prior use, driving habits, and so on maybe the woodchipper was the final straw that led to momentary clutch slippage when then caused the flywheel to burn.
That’s just a WAG and there is no way of knowing short of tearing it apart.

I couldn’t find a review of the 2005 Frontier with a manual transmission. The V6 with automatic is rated for 6,100 lbs. If your Frontier is a manual it is likely a 4 cylinder motor, as I can’t find any listings for a V6 with a manual transmission.

If you have a manual 4 cylinder Frontier it isn’t rated anywhere near 6,100 lbs of towing capacity. Trucks and cars with manual transmissions are often rated at less than 1/2 of towing capacity of the same vehicle with an automatic transmission.

It is possible you overheated the clutch, or did damage a motor or transmission mount if towing the chipper was stressful on the truck.

Sounds like a large part of this might be driving technique…You need to have the clutch fully engaged before any meaningful amount of power is applied when starting in first gear…After that, there should be no clutch slippage at all during gear changes…The clutch is NOT a torque converter…

What’s the weight of the wood chipper? I looked online, and depending on how large “large” is, you’re talking between 1,000 and 5,000 lbs, and from the looks of it, that 5000 lb. one doesn’t require you to chop down the tree beforehand. My point is the OP’s likely below the rated capacity, but I’m making the same wild guesses as everyone else until he/she confirms.

Thanks for all the helpful responses.

UncleTurbo – No grind. 4L V6, 6sp manual, 6300lb rated towing capacity. However overrated that may be.

Missile – Nissan Frontier. Chipper weighed ~1900lbs – a weight I’ve towed before with no problem. Whether it is safe or not is another matter.

Caddyman – I was only giving it the gas it needed to keep from stalling when letting the clutch out.

Ok4450 – I’ve always driven this truck gently, and only haul the occasional load of firewood. The engine/trans mounts are all solid. I think I will have to get in there and see what the clutch looks like. Might as well replace it while I’m in there.

Without the chipper, I still get the shudder when engaging 1st gear, but it is much less pronounced. Maybe 3 or 4 little vibrations. I do not feel it when shifting into any other gear.

How about reverse? If the clutch chatters when being released, it’s usually from foreign material getting on the clutch disc. This can be oil either from the engine or transmission…It can also be a mechanical problem in the pressure plate…

Looks like reverse has the same shudder as first. I ordered a clutch kit from rockauto. I’ll report back with pictures after I open it up.

Foreign matter on the clutch disk is a good “possible” problem. Disk hydralic fluid, or perhaps a leak in the rear seal of the motor could contaiminate the disk plate and make the clutch grabby.

OK44 Nailed it in my opinion…