Manual Transmission; Can change gears but car only revs

Hey Everyone,

So my brother “learned” how to drive manual and asked if he could take my car for a spin. As we were driving he went from fifth gear (which he had prematurely switched to) to first. This occured at about 35 or 40 mph. The car kind of jerked and a mechanical clicking could be heard. The clutch feels fine, and I can switch to all gears it seems, but when I let out the clutch, the gears won’t engage, and the car can only be revved. This comes with a clanking noise. Any ideas? I’m hoping its not an internal transmission issue!

Thanks in advance!

Year, model, and mileage?

2010 Mazda 3, 40k miles on it

probably broke a CV joint or shaft. Of course it could be the transmission.

In the driveway, do this.

Set the parking brake
Start the car
Put the car in 5th gear and try to "drive off"
If the engine doesn’t stall, your clutch is a goner

just because you can move the shifter into all gears doesn’t mean the clutch is good.

Was the clutch let out during that shenanigans?

Start with simple stuff. Turn the wheel to both sides and try to shake the half shafts. If they are both tight, move on to rule out the transmission.

With the engine off, windows down, clutch pedal out, and stick in neutral, have your brother push the car with listen for any weird noises. All gears are in mesh and they would turn and make noises if anything is loose.

40 mph in first is bad but may not be destructive to the transmission. But it’s probably faster than your clutch’s friction disc could handle.

After the clutch test it might not be a bad idea to drain the transmission oil to see if any chunks of metal come out with the oil. I could think of several things inside a manual transmission that could lead to a problem like this.

That would be far easier than going into the disassembly of anything; at least for the moment.

The clutch disc hub seems to be the weakest link in the system. I’ll bet a dollar it is stripped out but other damage might have also resulted.

"Put the car in 5th gear and try to “drive off"
If the engine doesn’t stall, your clutch is a goner” These words are db4690’s, not mine. - It might be the clutch but a half-shaft could be broken as well.

It is very likely you exploded the clutch disc. Most of the friction material will be gone from the metal supports. When your brother shifted into first, the disc began to spin at ~9000 RPM which is too fast for structural integrity.

The transmission is probably okey although some life was probably taken off the first syncronizer. But, drain the transmission; check for metal pieces; and do any repairs to the transmission while it is out for the clutch replacement.

Hope this helps.

Have you checked the drive shafts yet? You can check them without draining the tranny, or spending any money.

Same thing happened to me. Except only 1st and 2nd wont work. No odd noises or smells. Was able to launch in 3rd, so clutch is still okay.

The synchronizers will not allow a downshift from 40 MPH into first gear unless extreme force is used and you break the first gear syncro.