Moving the gear stick is like moving through peanut butter, molasses, high viscosity

ford
fiesta

#1

UPDATE: Last night my wife drove it for over an hour on the highway to come home. I drove it after, and it was very hard to move the shift lever. It was completely normal moving left to right in neutral. But if I tried to go into any gear, man was it hard I would estimate around 10-15lbs of force was needed. This was both with the car on and off. I was shocked. By far the worst it has been.
Then I drove it this morning and it was COMPLETELY normal. I was so confused. Not even a hint of extra resistance. I dropped my wife off at the train station, about 15 min drive. And it was 100% the whole ride there. On the way back I started to feel the resistant start growing. by the time I got home it was hard to shift again, about half as hard as it was last night 5-7.5lbs.
END UPDATE/
I have a 2012 Ford Fiesta SE, manual.
Trying to shift gears has started to become difficult to do. It feels like moving the shifter through thick peanut butter or molasses. A liquid with a high viscosity.
Some bullet points:

  • I am in Florida, this has nothing to do with cold weather. We used to live in Vermont and I have experienced this sort of thing in the Winters, it has just been rainy and hot (80s) could it have to do with moisture and heat?
  • It has done this in the past. We have owned this car for 3 years and this problem has happened 8-10 times. But it always returns back to normal after a day or two. So we have never done anything about it. But now it’s been 3 days and it only seems to be getting worse like the viscosity is rising, irregardless to if we drive it for 5 minutes or 2 hours, highway or city. It don’t matter.
  • Gears are fine once engaged. They don’t skip out anything.
  • Clutch pedal feels completely normal.
  • I think I recall this happening around rainy times. But then I remember it happening when it has been dry too so I dropped that hypothesis. Could it have to do with moisture mixing with the tranny fluid? But it has been part of heavy rain and it’s been fine.

I will have the car tonight and try to troubleshoot more. Try to get a more accurate description of the problem.

I am normally a pro Google searcher. But I don’t know how to optimize the description to search this. I have “tried hard to move”, “through peanut butter”, “lots of resistance”, etc. But I either find cold weather talk or the gears having trouble getting selected, or skipping out. People talk about it being really hard like they hurt their hand, kinda difficult. Mine is not like that.

Thanks


#2

Have you tried replacing the gear oil/fluid in the transmission?

Tester


#3

Good idea to check the transmission fluid, but I doubt that’s the problem. My guess is there’s something wrong with the clutch’s hydraulic system. Make sure the clutch master cylinder fluid level is ok. If that’s fine, try replacing the clutch master cylinder, bleed all the old fluid out, and add all new fluid. Visually checking the mechanical linkages from the shifter to the transmission is common sense too. You may have a shift cable or pivot that’s binding somewhere.


#4

A shift cable may be frayed/failing. This can be proven by disconnecting the cables from the transaxle to see if the shift lever remains difficult to move.


#5

Awesome stuff everybody! I will try all of this stuff and let you know what it was. I didn’t get a chance to see the car yesterday because my wife had to work too late. But once I get some time I will try all of this!

Thanks


#6

Someone in a feiesta, specific forum said that I should check the bushes that the linkages run through? And that it’s not uncommon that they can get crudded up and make shifting difficult.
Lots of things to look into! Exciting. I haven’t had a project like this since a has me Mazdaspeed Miata years ago. I’m kind of excited, I just hope it don’t cost a lot!


#7

I got to drive the car last night and this morning.
Last night my wife drove it for over an hour on the highway to come home. I drove it after, and it was very hard to move the shift lever. It was completely normal moving left to right in neutral. But if I tried to go into any gear, man was it hard I would estimate around 10-15lbs of force was needed. This was both with the car on and off. I was shocked. By far the worst it has been.
Then I drove it this morning and it was COMPLETELY normal. I was so confused. Not even a hint of extra resistance. I dropped my wife off at the train station, about 15 min drive. And it was 100% the whole ride there. On the way back I started to feel the resistant start growing. by the time I got home it was hard to shift again, about half as hard as it was last night 5-7.5lbs.
Does this eliminate some of the theories you all posted?
Oh and also I want to know if you think I am doing serious damage by driving it more. Should I uber to the auto parts store when I need to get replacement parts?


#8

works ok when cold but gets worse as trans heat up? dont know what fluid your trans uses. does owners manual say?


#9

This looks to be the correct tranny fluid, Although it says dual clutch, which makes me thing this if for an automatic dual clutch ford… Ill check my manual later.


#10

I got under the car today and also took off the shifter housing. I didn’t see any sign of leaks but I am not sure exactly where to look, and it’s quite dirty down there so it’s hard to see any leak evidence. I took some pics of the area.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/h7XP1OXSe8BzQV5G3
https://photos.app.goo.gl/5us8TKc8dRhIgppx2
https:// photos .app.goo.gl/2evzKunZCnz8qFzG3
( ^ I had to put spaces in the link to be able to post it here with a new link. Sorry)

What do you all think?


#11

Here are shots of the interior. My new account is limited so I couldn’t put it all in one post

Interior
https://photos.app.goo.gl/ivtHNDnwRwsQ5gFP2
https://photos.app.goo.gl/RaQ6zC1RXjOiPc0725


#12

Do you feel any difference engine on vs engine off?


#13

Don’t you read these posts, George?

Tester


#14

My mistake, Alzheimer’s setting in? lol … .


#15

Hahahaha, no worries. I tend to be a bit wordy. But I am trying to be descriptive are the same time as I try to be concise. It’s not easy.

What does it tell you if it’s the same engine on or off?


#16

If it feels different engine on vs engine off, I’d be thinking more a clutch hydraulic system problem. If it feels the same either way, I’d be thinking there’s a problem with the linkage sticking from the shifter to the transmission controls. I don’t know how it works on the fiesta, but on my Corolla there’s cables attached just below the shifter, and those cables run to the transmission control levers attached to the transmission. What I’d do then is remove the center console and start by taking a look-see with a bright flashlight at what’s going on down there below the shifter handle. It’s sort of a complicated arrangement with a ball and socket configuration and various bushings and stuff and it’s greased only once, at the time of manufacture, so it’s easy to think how it might all jam up at that point. I’ve never had a problem with the shifter on my cars, but on my truck the floor shifter for the transfer case developed a problem where it wouldn’t stay in the position I selected. That turned out to be caused by the ball joint parts separating right there below the shifter handle.


#17

Update.
I sprayed the area down with a rust cutting lubricant because I have hear that that has helped a lot of people with this issue (Finally found a thread with someone experiencing a similar situation) But it did not seem to help one bit. I can try to spray it more, but there was no change at all and I sprayed A LOT.

I want to check the tranny oil, and probably just replace it, but I only have one jack, no jack stands, and no timber or anything to prop up the car… Can I change tranny fluid without the car being level? I will probably go out and get at least one jack stand but to get it level I would need to get 3 or 4 of them. and I am not rolling in the dough right now. If anyone is in the Fort Lauderdale area and could let me try to fix it with their tools I will buy you some beer, or food or whatever. Thanks! I highly doubt someone from this area would be checking this thread lol. But it cant hurt to throw it out there!


#18

Is the shift lever easy to move with the cable disconnected at the transaxle?


#19

Yes it is easy to move. I just went for a test drive and got the engine hot and made it super hard to shift (I hope I am not doing extra damage every time I do this…)
So I paid attention to the clutch to see if it was possible the master cylinder. It is now, Even when I could barely get it out of gear, as soon as I pressed the clutch it disengaged from the engine. It is just physically hard to move the shifter down

so then I parked it and popped off the shift cable. I was able to move that very easily. But then when I tried to move the Shifter block (not sure what that piece is called.) It was noticeably more difficult to move than when I did the same thing on a cold engine


#20

When the engine is turned off you should be able to easily shift to any gear you like and back to neutral without pressing the clutch pedal in at all. At least that’s how it works on my Corolla w/a manual transmission. If the stiff gear shift lever problem you are having remains even with the engine off, which I recall you said, then it isn’t likely caused by something to do w/the clutch.

re draining the transmission fluid. It isn’t necessary for the car to be level for doing that, at least not on any manual transmission car I’ve had. You can get a little more of the old fluid out if you jack it so it is tilted so the drain hole is on the down-ward side though. If you want to do it yourself you’ll need jack stands. Don’t even consider crawling under the car unless it is supported by sturdy and well placed jack-stands, and the wheels are fully chocked to prevent it rolling. I use timbers in add’n to the jack- stands, but that’s only as a back up if say an earthquake happens and the car slips off the jack- stands. I don’t see this being caused by the transmission oil unless its oil has leaked out and the level is much below what it should be. If that’s the case replacing the gear oil won’t likely fix it, the transmission is probably damaged and will have to be removed and taken apart to assess what happened.