Shifting problem, Toyota Tercel


I drive a 1997 Toyota Tercel. The clutch was replaced two years ago.

Recently I have been having a problem with shifting. When I am shifting from one gear to the next, it gets stuck in neutral and refuses to go into gear until I turn the ignition off. Once the ignition is turned off, I can almost always get it into first. The most recent time it happened, which was about a week ago, I had to fight it even with the ignition off, though I ultimately won.

If it does it once, it will almost always do it twice. It MIGHT do it a third time. After that, it’s generally fine for several days.

A week ago, it happened four or five times, just about every time I shifted. There was a garage right there so I took it in. The next day, they took it for a test drive and it was fine. I came to get the car and it did it four or five times as soon as I left the garage, once getting stuck IN gear, and then after that was fine. As I said, that was just about a week ago and it’s been fine since. The incidents of shift sticking have been as far apart as a month or as close together as 24 hours. Occasionally there is a grinding noise, but there is no noise more often than there is a noise. I generally can tell about one shift in advance of it sticking, that it’s getting ready to stick, which at least gives me time to get off the road. But I’m terrified that it will happen when I’m on the highway or something.

I understand that it’s nothing that can be definitely diagnosed until someone disects it. But I’ve talked to four different garages and gotten four different tentative diagnosises. One says hydraulic line and/or fly wheel; another says clutch; another says pressure plate, another says it’s not the clutch at all, it’s the transmission. They all agree that they’re only guessing.

Does anyone else have a guess? I’ll be happy to answer any questions.


I suppose that you have some mileage on the car and it is OK that you didn’t mention how many. Your transmission is done for. Nobody fixes internal linkage. I wonder if there is any oil in the transmission. By now, you should either get a used transmission or used car.