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What You Need to Consider If Your Car Doesn't Want to Go Into Gear

Have you ever jumped into your front wheel drive car ready for your journey to work and found it very difficult to engage first gear? Sometimes, you may get going and find that second gear is similarly stubborn. What could be going on here, should you be worried and what can you do?

Where to Look First

This is quite a common problem and, surprisingly, more so when the mercury drops in winter. If it does seem to be particularly problematic in the cold weather, then it could be to do with the equipment that connects the gear lever to the actual transmission itself.

Lubricating the Cables

The factory fitted lubrication inside the mechanism can break down or become contaminated, making it a lot more difficult to engage a gear. The problem becomes more obvious in very cold weather due to the way the temperature affects the viscosity of the failing lubricant. Essentially, the cables that connect the gear lever to the transmission are contained within protective tubes, which are in turn attached to the car itself. The cables travel within the tubes and the lubrication makes sure that they don't snag on the inside of those tubes.

To fix this problem, the inside of the tubes and the cables need to be cleaned and the lubrication replaced. This can be done if you like spending a good afternoon on the floor in your garage, or it is also something that can be fixed by a trip to your local mechanic.

Checking the Fluid Level

You may also find that the root of the problem is within the transmission itself, however. How long is it since you last changed the transmission fluid? Once again, this is a lubricant that doesn't last forever. It may not be as effective as it was, and this could be causing issues with gear selection.

Checking the Internals

It's also possible that the synchronisers in the gearbox are in need of attention. As the name suggests, these elements "sync" (or match up) the actual gears to the driving shafts in preparation for your shift to the next gear. These elements help to make selection a lot easier, but if they start to wear out then you will find it much more difficult to snag the next gear.

What to Do Next

Checking your car in for a service will help to get the transmission fluid levels and condition checked. If it is found that the synchronisers need to be changed, then this could require a transmission rebuild.