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Stuck In Gear!

I went to drive my 1970 Nova today and after driving it for about 15 seconds it seemed to stick in second gear. I cannot get it to go into neutral to be able to put it into any other gear including reverse. The shifter is on the floor. I have no clue what is going on- If it’s something with the linkage between the shifter and the transmission or something with the clutch. It has never acted this way before and gave no indication that a problem was on the horizon.

Is the lever locked or is it loose?

Any difference if the engine is turned off??

Don’t sound like the clutch. Probably the linkage.

Rod Knox- not sure what you mean- Ican move the gear shift around a little bit but it won’t slip into neutral- I think after driving it again it is actually running in first gear- it’s a 3 speed. Can’t get it into reverse, second or third. It makes no difference whether the engine is turned off.

Sounds like the linkage is hung up. The shift arms can get loose or perhaps the linkage has come apart, perhaps a cotter pin fell out. Is this a factory shifter? Or, a Hurst shifter?

Jack up the car or put it on a lift. Disconnect the shift arms from the shift levers on the transmission. Move the transmission levers to neutral position. Move the shifter into neutral. Is everything tight and in position? The shift arms from the shifter should just slip into the shift levers on the transmission…If not, something is not right…Aftermarket shifters had several adjustment points. so the movement of the shift lever in the car corresponded to the movement of the shift levers on the transmission…

It’s a Hurst Shifter- Unfortunately I am not a mechanic so I will have to pay my guy to look at it- thanks for all the input.

Hurst shifters were standard in some performance cars of the era, but it is very likely this is an aftermarket shifter put in by a previous owner. Should not be a big deal, just some thing has worked loose over the years.

I hope it isn’t as it has some other smaller issues and I am pretty much tapped out on the project. It’s a great old car but it is also hungry for my wallet-LOL!!

I once had a beautiful maroon 65 LeMans convertible which briefly did what you describe. So same era, related heritage as your Nova, potentially a similar shift linkage set up.

As I recall it would hang in second gear, though it might have also happened in first, can’t recall for sure. Mine was a 3 speed floor shift, and yes, it was a factory equipped Hurst shifter. Each and every time the shifter would hang up in gear, I would reach underneath the car with my tire tool, or maybe a long screwdriver, and just jostle the linkage somewhat gently. Each time, just a slight nudge would pop it free, and shift normally. A week or two after the first incident, after just enough cases to assure me something was wrong enough to need fixing, I raised the car and looked. All it needed were little nylon bushings on the linkage joints…sort of like a tiny railroad car wheel. The nylon was just worn out, allowing enough slop in the joints that the 1-2 lever was jamming onto the 3-R lever, or something like that. After that simple non technical repair, the problem never repeated once over several years. It’s a very simple job, you’d probably only need very basic tools (pliers and flashlight) and a way to get under the car safely (jack stand or very solid wood block to serve for a jack stand). If this is the problem, you don’t need to be a “mechanic” to fix this, give it a try.

Your shift linkage is out of adjustment.

Standard linkage adjustment procedure for those old Hurst shifter was pretty easy. Get the car jacked up and safely supported, and chock the wheels AND set the emergency brake. Get under the car and look at the shift linkage coming off the shifter. If it’s a 3 speed you’ll have two bent rods coming from the bottom of the shifter to the side of the transmission. The rods are threaded at the shifter end and that’s where you adjust them. Look CAREFULLY at the base of the shifter, just above where the shift linkage attaches and you’ll see a 1/4 inch hole in the side of the shifter base.

Remove the cotter pin or spring clip holding the shift linkage onto the transmission and take the linkage off the transmission. You will probably see that one or the other of the transmission shift arms is not straight up and down at this time. Have someone step on the clutch and with your hand move the shift arm on the transmission vertical. You can move either of them forward and back, there’s only 3 positions for each. You want center position on both of them, that’s neutral. Then put a quarter inch pin ( a quarter inch drill bit will work just fine) in that hole in the side of the shifter base. You will need to maneuver the shifter around until the pin will go ALL THE WAY into the shifter. That’s exactly where the shifter is in neutral. You now have both the transmission and the shifter in neutral. Now try to put the linkage back on the transmission. At least one of them won’t line up. Adjust the length of the linkage shaft in the adjuster to make it longer or shorter until it will fit onto the transmission. Once it’s on put the cotter pin / spring clip back in. Do the same for the other one. That’s all there is to it, you’re finished.

Once you get the car jacked up this will only take about 5 minutes, it’s really pretty simple.

I will get underneath the car and see what I can see.

I was able to move a threaded bolt? rod? shaft? back and forth underneath the car and tighten some nuts on small metal plates attached to outside of transmission. The gear shift then freed up and was in neutral and it is shifting smoother than before I had the problem. Hopefully my mickey-mouse fix will hold up :slight_smile: .