Very difficult to get my 2006 Mustang (manual transmission) into 1st gear

I have a 2006 Mustang (manual 5 speed) that recently has been having a problem getting into 1st gear


  1. When the engine is cold, there is no issue getting the car into gear
  2. Once it warms up (after approx. 20 miles or 30 minutes driving), it is very difficult to get into 1st gear. I have to put it in 2nd then get it to slip into 1st.
  3. On hot days the problem starts sooner and is hard to get into the other gears
  4. when the car has warmed up on a cool day. I can get the car into the other gears (2nd, etc) when standing still, but first is almost impossible

Originally the problem showed up when my wife drove the car, but it is getting worse.

Any suggestions why the engine and/or outside temperature would affect how my I can get my car into gear?

The clutch master cylinder is being effected by heat.

When the master cyilnder heats up it causes the bore within the master cylinder to expand. If the cup seals in the master cylinder are at all worn, the master cylinder can no longer produce the proper hydraulic pressure to fully disengage the clutch. This would be like trying to shift into any gear without stepping on the clutch pedal.

We just had another poster on this board complain that they were replacing the clutch on their Mustang every year. You can also burn up a clutch if the master cylinder gets effected by heat.


Thanks for the info. Hopefully I have not damaged the clutch while driving it with the master cylinder acting up.

Is it that the master cylinder has gone bad or there is more heat in the engine compartment now for some reason affecting the master cylinder?

I am pretty much ALWAYS in line with Tester since he is damn near all knowing. Also since his idea is perfectly logical AND the cheaper one to try first…follow his lead…if/when it doesnt solve the issue…then you are then stuck with my assessment. I went thru the same exact symptom with my FOrd Explorer and many other FOrds… Tester and I are after the same EXACT thing here…just different routes. But you would ALWAYS go with the cheaper item in this system to change out first before the entire clutch.

My assesment is that you are NOT getting the full stroke on your clutch movement…Meaning…when you put your clutch to the floor…you arent getting enough “throw” on the throwout bearing…and subsequently the arm that engages and disengages the pressure plate/clutch.

This happens when the pressure plate steel spring fingers get fatigued…when they get fatigued they require more “throw” to fully disengage the clutch completely…only way to fix this in a Ford is to replace the entire clutch.

Your throw is set at the factory and is non adjustable…when the pressure plate steel fingers get fatigued…they need more throw to FULLY disengage the clutch.

Want to prove me right? AFTER YOU TRY TESTERS THEORY…YOU are left with my solution…UNFORTUNATELY…and My apologies.

HERE IS YOUR TEST…Do your cold start while on a little hill…car facing nose downhill PARKING BRAKE ENGAGED…try your clutch and 1st gear shift…BUT DO NOT ALLOW THE CAR TO MOVE…SET THE PARKING BRAKE SO THE VEHICLE CANNOT ROLL… You will probably notice it is hard or impossible to get into 1st gear… THEN…remove the parking brake and allow the vehicle to roll downhill…and try to shift into first…Bet it goes into first gear A LOT easier…if it does…you need a new clutch…Sorry.

I came to all this after several Ford Clutch failures…all premature actually…as they needed new clutches due to the pressure plate…rather than a worn out clutch friction disc …THIS was AFTER I replaced the Clutch MASTER cylinder…which on all the Fords was actually a very small unit in line with the clutch pedal. After i replaced the clutch master and still had the same issue…I knew it was time for a new clutch…due to pressure plate spring finger fatigue…It would have been easy to solve if I could have somehow adjusted the clutch “THROW”…as you need more throw when you get fatigued pressure plate fingers

Sorry for the bad news…but as I have done in the past…I went along with Testers idea…because it is a perfectly good assessment…and logical…and the cheaper and proper thing to do…after that fails…its clutch time


Also…it is possible to completely ruin a clutch in one afternoon…OR…if you drive properly it can last well over 100K miles. Im fairly sure we have been over this topic many X on this site…and probably on other sites as well.

Many MANY people do not know that they are unintentionally destroying their clutches with their particular driving “style”…I say “style” because people invariably come up with their own techniques for using a manual transmission and quite frankly many people DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Its sad…it really is.

There are many NO-NO’s when it comes to clutch use…

NEVER…NEVER…Hold the vehicle on a hill using the clutch… EVER!!! Its like driving with your brakes on… You are burning up the clutch friction disc as well as heating up the flywheel ALL for no reason other than bad driving technique.

Unless you are racing…or are out of control on a mountain downhill road with no brakes…YOU SHOULD NEVER NEED TO DOWNSHIFT and release the clutch to come to a stop… just ride in the gear you are in and use your brakes…or go into neutral and use your brakes…YOU NEVER NEED to use the clutch and transmission to slow the vehicle…or downshift repeatedly in order to come to a gradual stop. LOTS of people do this…and it is simply DOUBLE the wear on your machine…DONT DO IT

ANOTHER COMMONLY OVERLOOKED CLUTCH MISHAP…IS Holding the clutch to the floor while engaged in 1st gear lets say at a Red Light. THIS IS BENDING AND WEARING OUT your pressure plate spring fingers… and A LOT OF PEOPLE DO THIS…It is WRONG… PLEASE DONT DO THIS.

If you are at a stop light…Just move into Neutral…and wait for the light to turn green…then depress the clutch…find first gear…and drive away… DO NOT WAIT IN GEAR WITH YOUR CLUTCH FOOT ON THE FLOOR… IF YOU DO…you will have the exact same clutch failure you have explained above…the pressure plate spring steel fingers will fatigue…and then require more throw or movement in order to disengage fully the friction disc…and thus make it impossible to shift from neutral to 1st gear with the engine running. Its very sad…especially when you cannot simply adjust the clutch for more throw…Ford especially should put a provision for adjustment into their manuals…BUT THEY DONT…Same as many other manufacturers


I wonder if the fluid in the transmission should be changed. Usually with manual transmissions, the opposite problem occurs and the car is hard to shift when the transmission is cold. However, changing the fluid in a manual transmission isn’t expensive and I think would be worth a try.

It usually means the cup seals in the master cylinder are worn out.

If you want to confirm that this is the problem, the next time it becomes hard to shift the transmission into gear, open the hood and pour cold water over the clutch master cylinder. If the transmission can now be shifted into gears replace the master cylinder.