Vehicles with manual transmissions are more affordable to purchase and repair, but they can still have transmission issues. Spotting issues early helps owners seek repairs before further damage occurs. Transmission cables, bushings, and synchros are all common areas where problems can arise. Here’s a guide to spotting these problems, so you can seek repair when you need it.
Signs of a Bad Manual Transmission Cable
A manual transmission has two cables. One controls the horizontal movement of the shifter assembly, and the other controls the vertical movement. Over time they can stretch or break, which can impact your transmission’s performance. Unfortunately, problems with these cables can be hard to spot but a correct diagnosis is needed to repair or replace the clutch cable.
The most common indicator of a stretched transmission cable is a grinding noise. When you let off the clutch, the stretched cable cannot push or pull the lever sufficiently, and you will hear it grinding. This is different than the grinding from a worn clutch, which happens when you engage a gear.
In addition, a stretched cable will cause the shifter to perform sloppily. You will have a lot of play when you move from gear to gear.
If the shift cable breaks, your shifter handle won’t return to its neutral position on its own. If the horizontal cable breaks, you won’t be able to shift. If the vertical cable breaks, you will only be able to shift to third or fourth gear. If both cables break, the shifter handle will move freely, without any changes in the transmissions.
Signs of Bad Manual Transmissions Bushings
In a manual transmission, bushings connect the shift cable and the transmission linkage. Like all parts of the transmission, they can wear out and break over time.
Bushings may seem like simple components of your transmission, but they can cause big problems. If you find that your transmission is stuck in gear and you can’t shift out, damage to the bushings and other parts of the linkage or shifter assembly could be the culprit.
Another issue that can happen is the transmission becoming hard to shift. The bushings can make it hard to move the transmission from one gear to the next, even though you eventually do get there.
Unusual sounds can indicate bushing problems as well. With bushings, thumping, bumping, squealing, and whirring sounds are most common. This indicates a problem with the shift linkage, and that problem could be a worn bushing.
Finally, transmission fluid leaks can indicate a problem with the bushing. Transmission oil links can be from a wide range of issues, but don’t neglect to check for bushing problems as you try to find the cause of the leak.
Signs of Problems with Manual Transmission Synchros
Finally, the synchronizers, or synchros, on manual transmissions can cause issues for drivers. Synchros help the transmission smoothly shift from one gear to the next. It adjusts the speed of the shaft so the gears can fall into alignment quickly while you shift. This is an important part of a manual transmission.
When something’s wrong with the synchronizer, the first sign is usually a whirring or humming noise. This is the case if you’re hearing the sound at just one specific gear, rather than through the full range of gears.
Similarly, problems with the synchronizer can cause a grinding sound. If the sound comes only when you’re downshifting, look into synchro problems.
Problems with the gears themselves are also an indicator of synchronizer issues. A worn synchronizer can also cause the transmission to jump into neutral after you shift into gear. This can be a dangerous problem when you’re out on the road. It could also cause the transmission to get stuck in one gear or be hard to shift.
Cost to Fix Problems with the Transmission Synchros, Bushings, and Cables
Experiencing problems with your transmission linkage and cables, including the synchros and bushings, is frustrating, but thankfully these problems can be fairly easy to fix if caught early. First, check to see if your transmission issue is covered by your manufacturer’s warranty. If it is not, then you’re going to have to budget for repair.
Estimating the cost of repair is difficult because it will depend on the complexity of finding the issue and the extent of the damage. Repairing a transmission costs anywhere from $300 to $3000.
Bushings, cables, and synchronizers tend to be on the lower end of the repair cost range, but the cost can go up if the part is hard to get to. If the problem is severe or has caused damage to other components of the transmission, it may be time to think about replacing the transmission.
The best way to get an accurate diagnosis of transmission problems and a true estimate of the repair cost is to have it looked at by a transmission expert. Get a free quote for repairs in the greater Houston area by contacting My Transmission Experts. We have multiple shops throughout the region and will provide an accurate, honest assessment of your transmission problems, along with effective repair solutions.