October 22, 2021

How To Diagnose a “Won’t go in gear” Problem- By [SPOOLIGAN]

So you just replaced your clutch/transmission/flywheel/all the above and now your car won’t go in gear? Or maybe you are dealing with a DSM that has sat for a very long time and it won’t go into gear with the engine running. I am here to help.

Diagnosing this problem isn’t all that hard to do. Take a look at the picture below.


This is your clutch fork that protrudes through what I call, the fork hole. In the picture, the rubber boot is not present. Here is what you need to do.

Crawl under your car and look at this. The fork should be sitting dead center in this fork hole, or slightly towards the driver side of the car. If it is not, and is sitting more towards the passenger side of your car, you have most likely found your problem.

What causes this? You clutch fork rides on a pivot ball. The slave cylinder pushes on the end of the clutch fork, the fork pivots on the pivot ball, then pushes the throw out bearing towards the clutch.

In some cases, your clutch/pressure plate/flywheel combination, put the clutch fork at a bad angle. When your slave pushes the fork and the fork pushes the throw out bearing and the alignment is off, your throw out bearing will actually make contact on part of the bell housing.

The fix? Shimming the pivot ball. This is very simple to do, but it involves pulling the transmission. You then take a 14MM socket with a ratchet and loosen the pivot ball. Next, you add “shims” or washers, then bolt the pivot ball back onto the transmission. For the perfect thickness, you can use a washer from an old head bolt.

Once you put the transmission back onto the engine, check to see if the position of the clutch fork in the fork hole is where it needs to be. If not, you may need to add more washers. Don’t go any thicker than the head bolt washer though.

If your clutch fork is sitting where it is supposed to be- Your problem with no being able to get the car in gear very well could be your hydraulics. Your master cylinder, clutch line, or slave cylinder could be faulty.

In my case, my master cylinder was the culprit. If you look under the dash up at the master cylinder, you will see a rubber boot that the master rod goes through. If you see any fluid or wetness on this boot, your master cylinder needs to be replaced.

Still don’t go into gear?- If you have done all the above and replaced the master and slave cylinder, you could have bigger problems like a broken shift fork or other internal problems. All of which will require you to remove the transmission to inspect further.

Another thing you could inspect would be the shift cables. If the transmission will go into all the gears without the engine running, your shift cables are most likely fine.