Manual Transmission.....getting hard to put in reverse

My 1992 5 speed manual transmission on Plymouth Laser ( same as Mitsubishi Eclipse) is getting harder and harder to shift the gear stick into REVERSE…I usually , now have to make 2 or 3 tries before in locks in. ( all forward gears shift perfect) …1.8L 4cyl.
I changed the gear oil (first time in 28 years) but it made no difference at all… what is happening??? Can it be fixed/adjusted or is the transmission going bad?? Thanks for your expertise.

Reverse gear is a straight cut gear with no synchro.

The next time it won’t go into reverse, shift into neutral and let vehicle roll slightly, and then try shifting into reverse.

If it shifts into reverse, the reverse gear is wearing out.


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Thank you for your reply. If the reverse gear is wearing out…can it be replaced or is the whole trans shot? Could it go anytime or could it last another year or two ( I shift in reverse 2-3 times a day) Since I do not believe a new trans is available,…the car has had it ?.. unless i take a chance with a salvaged one ?

Did this condition begin after you changed your gear lube in the trans? Or was the lube change an attempt to remedy the difficulty going into reverse?

If it happened after the lube change…you may be using the wrong lube. Trans gear oil is frustrating (to me) as it seems all mfg’s do not use the same standard…even though they show the same numbers and designations.

Personally I have seen massive differences between one mfg’s 75W and another…one might be like honey…the other, more like water. This has baffled, confused and often times, pissed me off. Anyway I hope this issue happened after the lube change and can be corrected in the same way by using precisely the brand and type dictated by the mfg. I had to do this on my VW’s 6sp trans as the equivalent weight synth gear lube I used was in no way shape or form physically similar to what came in the bottles with the VW logo on them. Wasn’t even close yet should have been using the weight designation… Infuriating but easily remedied.

I suspect however that you changed the lube to assist this hard shift condition …and in that case, Mr @Tester 's assessment would be the more valid idea.

My Nissan truck did this for years.

When it wouldn’t go into reverse, I would shift into first and move the truck forward an inch or two and then it would shift into reverse.

Try it.


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I will thanx.

The condition existed before the gear oil change. I changed the gear oil thinking the transmission was sticking with 28 yr old dirty oil in it. Made absoutely, no difference afterwards. Done at a shop ( I am assuming they did what they were paid to do). Thanx for your feedback.

Doing maintenance as if it is a repair is an act of the desperate. I recommend you get into the habit of changing the transmission oil every 30,000 miles (or 60,000 miles if you can get synthetic gear oil in the right viscosity).

As for your problem, I have a friend who drove without reverse for years. Get into the habit of avoiding scenarios where you need to use reverse. Find parking spaces where you can pull through so you don’t have to back in or back out. Save reverse for those rare occasions when you absolutely need it.

I used to occasionally have this issue with my old car. One thing that helped was shifting into neutral, letting out the clutch, and pressing the clutch a second time. It seemed to help synchronize things. If that doesn’t help, move the car an inch or two, as recommended above.

If you can find a good independent transmission rebuilder, he might be able to replace the worn out gear at a reasonable price, and also replace any other parts that have visible wear. Whether it is worth the price is up to you, and the overall condition of the rest of the car. It doesn’t hurt to call around and get some quotes for a manual transmission rebuild. Manual transmissions aren’t nearly as complicated as automatics.