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Manual Transmission Gear Grinding

I learned how to drive a manual transmission 6 months ago and have grinded the gears three times. How bad is this for my transmission? Am I causing severe damage? How much grinding has to occur before the transmission is ruined? Please help me figure this out.

Grinding between the gears isn’t good. It damages the transmission.

If you’re new to a manual transmission, it may take time to learn. But if there’s a problem in the clutch hydraulic system, this can hinder the learning curve. So make sure the equipment is working correctly before you learn.


Everyone grinds once in a while and it can take a little bit of abuse. While learning, 3x in 6 months is acceptable. IMO, the important thing is to use a light touch on the shifter when shifting (treat it like an eggshell). I’m not saying that you should grind. But when you do, you want to give the teeth a chance to skip past each other instead of slam hard into each other.

Also, if you happen to put it in the wrong gear, you would feel the extra resistance as long as you’re shifting lightly. Here’s an example of what happens when the driver isn’t relaxed with the shifter.

We’ve all ground one on occasion.

I like Chunky’s recommendation. Shifting should be done smoothly and not forced. And remember that a tap on the accelerator can be your friend. The closer the speed of the engine is to the tranny input shaft is the smoother the transition will be. With practice, you can get it smooth.

Smoothness also prolongs clutch life. My personal “best” for an original clutch is 295,000 miles…and that’s after having taught two kids on the same clutch, one of whom smoked it while learning. That’s actually the only clutch I’ve ever worn out in 40 years of driving manuals.

How will I know if there is a problem with the clutch hydraulic system? I had my 60,000 mile maintainence three months ago and they said everything looked fine. I am not sure the extent of the inspection though. I have noticed lately that I have been having a hard time putting the clutch into first if my car isn’t at a complete start. Could this have something to do with the clutch hydraulic system?

Thanks for the video. That driver def. is driving that car hard. I have shifted into the incorrect gear but immediately put the clutch back in and shifted into the proper gear needed.

Fact about teaching two daughters how to drive a manual on the same clutch, one who smoked it, made me laugh. Thanks for the smile and the words of wisdom!

It was actually a son and a daughter. My son smoked it. I could smell it all the way home.

Hey, easy going definitely matters, but when we do screw up these things are more resiliant than we often give them credit for.

From a stop, shift to first and hold the clutch down. If there’s a leak, the clutch would engage slowly and the car begins to move. 60,000 miles is not a lot unless it was used for taxi or delivery service.

Many cars have problem shifting to 1st gear on the fly, including my car when it had 5 miles on the odometer. It can be done with a technique called double clutch.