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1G First gear engagement issues

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
I have replace the shifter cables, shifter cable bushing, base plate bushing,and shift cable bracket bushing. I can manipulate the bracket to be able to get into all gears it just doesn't function well. But if everything is in its place as it should be i.e. cable bracket and cable adjustment. 1st gear will not engage. All other gears engage. I've seen this in other threads as far as people with simular problem. But the threads dead end and I dont get anywhere. Any help is extremely appreciated.
 

XC92

Proven Member
685
93
Jul 22, 2020
Queens, New_York
What do you mean by it will not engage? When you try to shift to 1st, is the shifter blocked? Or does it go in, but nothing happens? Or is there grinding? What about with the engine off, does the shifter go into 1st? What about with the clutch pedal all the way down, does it go into 1st? Give as much detail as you can as to what is happening.

I have an issue with 1st gear popping out. I can shift into it, but most of the time it pops right out, both under load (meaning when I release the clutch pedal and brake), and sometimes with the pedal still down. Around 1/3 of the time, though, if I ease the clutch pedal up gently and rev the engine gently too, it'll stay in 1st. But either way it does go into 1st.

I've got multiple issues causing this or making it worse. First, my clutch pedal disengages too low, which can cause grinding or wear out the synchros. Second, the shifter cable end bushings needs to be replaced because they're old and no longer tight and crisp. Third, I probably need a new or rebuild master cylinder. Fourth, I could probably do with a new clutch hose. And fifth and most crucially, the trans itself has issues that need to be fixed.

I'm about to deal with all of them, including dropping and popping open the trans to see what specifically is wrong and fixing it. Never worked on a trans but there's always a first, and I've researched a lot about it, have most of the tools I'll need, and the folks here are very helpful if you need them. But I know exactly what's going on, symptom-wise. If you can be more specific, I'm sure that someone will be able to help you out.
 
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Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
When I put it into first with car on it grinds a little as if it can't make it all the way into gear. If the car is off and I put it in 1st I can move the car and it clunks. As if its close to going I to first but not going far enough in. Same as when started. If I take off the shift cable that has the adjuster on it, left hand side, it will go all the way into first gear with or without clutch car will not move. So 1st is engaged. If I hold clutch in while in first with left hand cable is off and start the car 1st gear is engaged and working.
 

XC92

Proven Member
685
93
Jul 22, 2020
Queens, New_York
So, engine off, you can put it into 1st, so it's not some sort of mechanical blocking or inability due to say a broken shift fork or rail. And when you turn the car on (presumably with the clutch pedal all the way down), then let up the clutch pedal, the car moves?

If so, what happens then? Does the car continue to move, or does it pop out of 1st? And is there grinding (is that what you meant by clunking)?

And when the engine's on and you try to put it into 1st (again, properly, with the clutch pedal in, then released once the shifter's in 1st), what happens, does it get blocked even with the pedal all the way down? Or does the problem start when you start to release the pedal, and if so what exactly happens? Grinding? Blocking? Engagement but then popping out?
 

BLACK'98DSM

Proven Member
2,555
807
Feb 9, 2019
Birmingham, Alabama
When I put it into first with car on it grinds a little as if it can't make it all the way into gear. If the car is off and I put it in 1st I can move the car and it clunks. As if its close to going I to first but not going far enough in. Same as when started. If I take off the shift cable that has the adjuster on it, left hand side, it will go all the way into first gear with or without clutch car will not move. So 1st is engaged. If I hold clutch in while in first with left hand cable is off and start the car 1st gear is engaged and working.
Worn 1st synchro, and possible damage to the gear itself. Drain the trans fluid and look for metal chunks or heavy metal flake.

Thread shouldn't be titled "No first gear". Should be more like "Grinds into 1st gear" or "First gear engagement issues".
 

1990TSIAWDTALON

Moderator
7,537
3,608
Nov 14, 2013
Independence, Kansas
Is your shifter in the car rebuilt or is it still all original? The bushings in our shifters turn to dust after years of hot sun in a car and then they feel all wobbly and wiggly. A fresh set of bushings makes a world of difference and may have something to do with it not engaging fully. Pull the console top off and take a look at the points where the cables mount and then move your shifter to see how much slop is in it. It may just not be pushing it all the way into gear but does sound like you either have a clutch issue or mechanical damage in the transmission if it grinds and won't go in all the way.
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
So, engine off, you can put it into 1st, so it's not some sort of mechanical blocking or inability due to say a broken shift fork or rail. And when you turn the car on (presumably with the clutch pedal all the way down), then let up the clutch pedal, the car moves?

If so, what happens then? Does the car continue to move, or does it pop out of 1st? And is there grinding (is that what you meant by clunking)?

And when the engine's on and you try to put it into 1st (again, properly, with the clutch pedal in, then released once the shifter's in 1st), what happens, does it get blocked even with the pedal all the way down? Or does the problem start when you start to release the pedal, and if so what exactly happens? Grinding? Blocking? Engagement but then popping out?
If I take the left cable off. Put the Car into first gear. Start the car. I can drive in first. It does not pop out. I can even put the cable back on while I am in first and it still drives. As soon as I pull out of first. It will not go back into first unless the left cable is off. If I try to put it back in first it grinds . Will not go back into first. I am super new to this stuff and seems like I dont know the proper way to explain what is happening. Thanks for bearing with me.
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
Is your shifter in the car rebuilt or is it still all original? The bushings in our shifters turn to dust after years of hot sun in a car and then they feel all wobbly and wiggly. A fresh set of bushings makes a world of difference and may have something to do with it not engaging fully. Pull the console top off and take a look at the points where the cables mount and then move your shifter to see how much slop is in it. It may just not be pushing it all the way into gear but does sound like you either have a clutch issue or mechanical damage in the transmission if it grinds and won't go in all the way.
All the plastic bushing have been replaced in shifter. Base plate bushing replaced as well. Same with bushing on the shifter cables and the cables themselves. After replacing all that the shifter is much tighter way less play. It will go into first if I take the left shifter cable off and it will drive as well. But only if I take left cable off. If I put cable back on while in first it will stay in first and still drive but as soon as I take it out of first with cable on it grinds and does not go into first at all.
 

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
6,462
1,675
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
You need to find out if your clutch is dragging. Get it in first gear, hold the clutch in and rev the piss out of it. Like 6k. If the car moves the clutch is dragging and that needs to be fixed. Even if you don't have that problem if you have a worn synchro you may have problems getting it into first because synchros still have a job to do even if the car is sitting still. While sitting still put the shifter into 2nd then go into first. What this does is it stops the shafts in the trans. If you can get it into first gear then I would say at a minimum you have a worn first gear synchro. Additionally you could have worn intermediate shaft bearings inside the trans. This is ONLY if you have already eliminated clutch drag if it is present. You may still be able to shift into first by going to second even if there is clutch drag. The cause of the block may just be the drag if you have drag.
That should give you some tools to diagnose. Clear as mud?
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
Put in first. Reved the piss out of it car does not move. Then again it is not fully engaging into first gear. Put into second then into first still doesn't go into first just grinds.
 

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
6,462
1,675
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
Put in first. Reved the piss out of it car does not move. Then again it is not fully engaging into first gear. Put into second then into first still doesn't go into first just grinds.
You need to be fully in gear. Yiu said you could get it to go engine off. So do that then start it and checknfor clutch drag. If it's not in gear the test isn't valid.
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
It only goes into gear if I take the left shifter cable off. The reaction is the same weather the car is on or off. In order for first to engage that left cable has to be off. Not the car but I will try that
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
Just had it in first reved no movement. Then to be sure it was engaged i drove in first. No clutch drag
 

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
6,462
1,675
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
Then I would say your problem lies internally if you're grinding trying to get it into gear. Is this a new problem or slowly developed over time?
 

talonlan3

Supporting Member
43
11
Dec 16, 2013
moline, Illinois
Another way to tell if clutch is dragging is if you can't shift to the next gear at high rpm's.
Sounds to me like a very worn first gear synchronizer.
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
I just got the. Car couple months back. Had no top end or tranny in it when I got it. Tranny came from a 91. I just got the thing together recently.
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
I can shift at high rpms. I mean I only got to drive it once and had to leave In second but it shifted at 6000
 

1990TSIAWDTALON

Moderator
7,537
3,608
Nov 14, 2013
Independence, Kansas
Paul, you are a trusting source for info on these cars and their transmissions so could he maybe have the wrong shifter brackets on the transmission for the year of car????
Improper engagement???
 

pauleyman

DSM Wiseman
6,462
1,675
Nov 19, 2011
oklahoma city, Oklahoma
Paul, you are a trusting source for info on these cars and their transmissions so could he maybe have the wrong shifter brackets on the transmission for the year of car????
Improper engagement???
It's possible but I noticed he said the trans is 91 but the pic of the car is 92 up. It would be a good idea to check the stamp on this trans. It's a little sketchy (actually a lot sketchy) but you could let the car idle, have a friend clutch in and shift it into first at the trans no cables. I would be damn sure to stand to the side and have the handbrake on too. If it goes in easily your problem is shifter and cables.
 

Slickdickrick

Probationary Member
14
3
Apr 7, 2021
Bucyrus, Ohio
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