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Transmission trouble

I have a 1989 Plymouth Colt 5 speed which has 113,000 miles. This past week I would experience instances where the car would not shift, either from neutral to first or from first to second. When this occurred, it would be very difficult to shift into any gear. Yesterday at a red light, I could not shift into any gear - I finally shifted into reverse, and was then able to shift into first. However these instances are very isolated. I might have a unable to shift episode and then the car would shift smoothly the rest of the drive. Today I drove it for well over an hour in stop and go traffic - no problem except when I put it into reverse with the clutch fully depressed. the car lurched backward for a moment. My mechanic cannot locate anything wrong - the car performd fine when he drove it. The clutch was replaced about 12 years ago. Any help would be appreciated.

Clear some things up,this is a rear wheel drive car? If not how complex is the shift linkage? is it full of bushings that can wear out?

The car made it only 8 years and under 50K before it needed a clutch? Were you the driver that destroyed the clutch that early? Could it be time for another?

It sounds like the clutch may not be disengaging fully when you step on the pedal. If the clutch is hydraulic check the fluid level. If it’s a cable-operated clutch there may be an adjustment to take up any slack in the cable.

Other possibilities with a car this old are worn engine/transmission mounts, worn shift linkage bushings, or shift linkage out of adjustment.

I’m leaning toward a leaking clutch master or slave cylinder, assuming the clutch is hydraulic.

The car is front wheel drive, incidentally the car was made by Mitsubiushi. I inherited the car from my dad, and you are right, he destroyed the clutch br ridng it.

Riding the clutch may be one of those urban myths which may not be well founded in fact. I know! I know! I’m shocked, myself, that I would even have such an idea. “Everybody knows…, etc.” That’s what makes urban myths.
Consider: if the foot is resting on the clutch pedal, and the engine and transmission input shaft are rotating at the same rpm, where is the slippage? “But, but, surely…!?” “But, surely”, is an assumption, not a fact. Measurment of the two components (engine shaft and clutch) speeds would be fact.
This isn’t to question that accelerated wear will occur when the engine is revved much higher that the clutch is rotating, and there is a slow engagement of the clutch plates. Some people do cause excessive clutch slippage at every gear change, out of habit, or inexperience, or other inability.

Thanks for the suggestions. One of the first things my mechanic did was check the clutch master and slave cylinder. He also looked at the linkages. He saw a lttle bit of rust, cleaned and lubricated them. I will specifically ask him about the mounts and cable slack although I suspect he has looked at these as well. He knows this car well, having replaced the clutch 12 years ago. What gets meis how infrequently I have a problem. I can go a hundred and more shifts without having a problem and then bingo, it will not shift.

Now I’m leaning more towards a shift linkage problem. Something is hanging up on occasion. If it were the clutch you’d have problems more consistently.