Welcome back! In our last article, we’d discussed some of the most common problems that automatic transmission vehicles encounter. Today, we’re on to manual transmissions. While most of the American populace has made a shift (excuse the pun) towards automatic transmission vehicles, about a third of drivers still stick (excuse the pun) to their manual vehicles. So what are some issues that manual transmission drivers can encounter? When can you tell that your transmission isn’t performing as it should?
If your transmission won’t stay in gear, your clutch is to blame. It’s likely that one of two problems is to blame: First of all, your clutch may be worn down. If you have a clutch with a worn disc, flywheel, bearing, or pressure plate, it may be time to replace the clutch. Second, your clutch pedal may be misaligned. Clutch pedals can slip over time, and the pedal might inadvertently trigger the transmission to drop out of gear. A clutch adjustment is less expensive than a clutch replacement.
How do clutches get damaged?
Clutches just wear out over time. The more you use your clutch, the faster it will wear. Do you rev the engine and peel off the line? Or do you haul tons of payload in your truck? How often do you shoot down the canyon, relying on your engine to do some of the breaking? If you abuse your clutch, it can crap out faster than it should. Most clutches last between 30,000 and 100,000 miles, although with excellent driving practices, your clutch could last 175,000 miles or more.
If you can’t shift your transmission into gear, your clutch may, once again, be shot. In addition, an electrical problem (a solenoid) may be to blame, or you may have a gear that is broken. Get an expert to take a look. Your mechanic may recommend a clutch replacement, transmission rebuild, or electrical work. At the end of the day, your transmission should be smooth (as long as you’re graceful on the pedals, of course). If your vehicle struggles to shift between gears, bring it into the shop as soon as possible.
Don’t let your transmission run without lubrication! Like automatic transmissions, manual transmissions require specialized transmission fluid to transfer power from your engine to your driveshaft. If you have little fluid in your transmission, your vehicle will underperform, you will lose power, and your transmission may slip out of gear. Be sure to give your transmission a flush every 50,000 miles or so (check your owner’s manual for a recommendation from the manufacturer). And take your car in for a repair if you notice a transmission fluid leak. Your check engine light should come on if you have low transmission fluid. For most manual transmission vehicles, it is difficult to check the transmission fluid level; you’ll have to check under the vehicle, which means that you’ll have to place it on a lift or jacks (or, of course, you could bring it into a mechanic).
If your clutch pedal won’t spring back after applying pressure, your clutch cylinders may be leaking or your pressure plate springs may be broken. Losing the power to shift your gears makes driving impossible. Your mechanic can replace your clutch or pressure plate to bring that necessary spring back to your pedal. Don’t attempt to drive with a failing clutch.
If your manual isn’t shifting like it used to, bring it into the shop. Here at Avalon Motorsports, we repair German-made vehicles, providing transmission flushes, maintenance, and repairs. Schedule an appointment today! We’re located off of East Colfax right here in Denver.