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Old 02-06-2003, 11:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Manual Transmission Woes- and Explanation

All,

This pertains mostly to the 5th gen, since so many people have them, but I suspect the 4th gen is susceptible to this problem, though I haven't heard of many complaints.

The absolute most common problem with the 5-speed has got to be the 5th gear grind. It would also seem that as this problem gets worse, reverse eventually becomes difficult to engage (especially when hot) and eventually goes out completely. I know several people this has happened to, me being one of them.

I know now why this occurs; after lengthy analysis while repairing a '98SH 5 speed tranny, the problem is obvious.

Here are the parts:

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4866.jpg

And here's reverse:

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4867.jpg

Here's a closeup of the 5th/reverse fork interaction (in neutral):

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4871.jpg

Here's how it works. Note that the 5th gear shift fork moves down to go into 5th, but has to move up in order to actuate the reverse shift fork (though it doesn't do anything with 5th gear):

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4872.jpg

Here it is in 5th:

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4873.jpg

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4874.jpg

And finally, in reverse:

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4875.jpg

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4876.jpg

Now, what does this mean? Well, as you munch 5th gear, the synchro sleeve takes a beating. As you may notice it slides over the hub to engage with the 5th gear mating teeth and lock it on the mainshaft. OK, but the sleeve doesn't mate to anything in reverse. Well, it has to move up off of the hub in reverse, though- which can't happen if the teeth have mushroomed out such that the sleeve binds on the hub:

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4878.jpg

http://www.ntpog.org/articles/5g_tranny/Img_4879.jpg

This is what happens. It's all that happens. If you happen to get reverse engaged halfway and you grind, QUIT! Grinding reverse will damage the reverse gear on the countershaft and damage the mainshaft itself (reverse is machined directly into it). What happens is that the idler gear doesn't drop down all the way, and all the reverse gears just grind. You can also widen the "pinch" of the reverse shift fork on the idler gear, which will mandate replacement of the shift fork.

What's the fix? If reverse quits and everything else is OK but grinding in 5th (or you *just* have grinding in 5th), you can just replace the reverse synchro pack. This is pretty easy as it doesn't require mainshaft/countershaft removal, just removal of the reverse fork and you can "work" it off (moving the 5th gear shift fork out of the way).

I thought this would be handy for some of you, if not for repair, then for peace of mind. I know I'm glad to finally know WTF was going on inside of the gearbox. @#$%! Honda and their brittle transmissions.
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Old 02-06-2003, 11:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It's not just Honda, actually. Nissans have this problem as well. I used to own an NX2000 hatchback, and one night on the freeway, it kept popping out of 5th gear. It would grind when I popped it back in. It required a new shift fork, and I believe the synchros were screwed. I checked online with sr20.net (or someting like that) and it seemed like a lot of Nissan owners had this same problem. They called it the 5th Gear Grind Pop-out issue, and based on a poll, about 50% the owners of Nissan NX's, Sentra-R's, and Infiniti G20's had this problem, and was most common around and over 90K miles. As Nissan would not fix this problem under warrantee, a lot of owners swore never to buy Nissans again. I was one of them. With a worn clutch along with the other problems, multiple shops quoted me at least $2000 to fix, and with the car worth not much more than that (it was a 1992 with $135K miles), i said F it and threw the money down on my 5th gen instead.

And now I hear about this... great... Well, not much we can do about it now is, there?

Could we help prevent / prolong this from happening by taking care of the transmission and not giving it too much wear-and-tear? Would double-clutch downshifts save our transmission from this problem? Avoiding gear grinds, and forcing the car into a gear doesn't want to go into, would those help as well? Or is this just basically inevitable?

Thanks for the insight Marcucci.
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Old 02-06-2003, 11:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hey i thought 3rd gear was the first gear to go out usually??
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Old 02-06-2003, 11:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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my reverse gear grinds occasionally (ive had the problem u described before but got it fixed) what should i do?
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Old 02-07-2003, 04:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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my 4th gen is doing the exact same thing... why oh why does honda (or whoever they contracted to make the tranny for them) suck so bad?

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Old 02-07-2003, 06:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info, never really seen a transmission before

I've been able to avoid the 5th gear grind, but I think I might shift differently than other people.

When I go to 5th, it's not a fast, diagonal motion like the 2nd to 3rd gear shift. Rather, I put the lever in the neutral position, move it all the way to the right, then up into 5th. I do it fairly quickly but still much slower than the other shifts. I don't know if this allows for better synchronization because my RPM is dropping more between the shift?

I have gotten into the habit of putting it into a forward gear first before trying to engage Reverse, and I haven't had the lockout/grind problems since...although they would probably occur if I went straight for reverse.
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Old 02-07-2003, 08:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Simon, u granny shifter!!!!

Seriously though, does putting it into a fwd gear b4 rev. gear help? I don't encounter lockout of rev. often(maybe 10% of the time?) and this is the exp. I've had w/all manual cars. I just make sure I don't shift into fwd. or rev. while the car's momentum is going the other direction.
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Old 02-07-2003, 10:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Two-Five Boy
Simon, u granny shifter!!!!

Seriously though, does putting it into a fwd gear b4 rev. gear help? I don't encounter lockout of rev. often(maybe 10% of the time?) and this is the exp. I've had w/all manual cars. I just make sure I don't shift into fwd. or rev. while the car's momentum is going the other direction.
Haha Yes, it does help. I read a really good article on transmissions once online (can't find it now) and it explained why. Something like when you place it in a forward gear first, it lines up everything better for reverse? Not sure. In any case it has become so routine that I don't even realize I do it anymore
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Old 02-07-2003, 02:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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marccuci is a pimp..
thanks for the info
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Old 02-07-2003, 02:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by shik0me

Haha Yes, it does help. I read a really good article on transmissions once online (can't find it now) and it explained why. Something like when you place it in a forward gear first, it lines up everything better for reverse? Not sure. In any case it has become so routine that I don't even realize I do it anymore
I do that too, I would say my reverse doesn't latch on 50% of the time. I've made it a habit to shift into 1st then reverse and if that doesn't work I rev the engine a little (I don't even think it has anything to do with it, someone mentioned it works before so maybe it's a psychological thing )

I've never grinded (ground?) in 5th gear but my tranny does act up a lot. For example if I'm at a rolling stop going 2-3mph I cannot shift into first for the love of God so I gotta go into 2nd which then causes that painful sluggish feeling.
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I periodically grind from 1st to 2nd....could that be caused by trying to shift too fast?
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Old 02-07-2003, 05:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I just wanted to say "Thank You"

Marruci, you are an invaluable asset here at PO and I am DAMN glad to have you here to explain this. Very nice pics too

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Old 02-07-2003, 07:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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FAQ! FAQ!
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Old 02-08-2003, 02:11 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by phayze one

For example if I'm at a rolling stop going 2-3mph I cannot shift into first for the love of God so I gotta go into 2nd which then causes that painful sluggish feeling.
Same with me. Then I worry about wearing out the clutch because I'm starting out in 2nd =\

A lot of people say they can double-clutch into 1st but it doesn't work too well for me.
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Old 02-09-2003, 06:11 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Manual Transmission Woes- and Explanation

Quote:
Originally posted by marcucci
This pertains mostly to the 5th gen, since so many people have them, but I suspect the 4th gen is susceptible to this problem, though I haven't heard of many complaints.
It certainly is a problem with 4th gens: I had this problem, too. Three weeks after I bought the car, fifth gear started grinding on the way in. Within a single, one-hour journey, reverse gear went from being perfectly fine to non-existent.

Luckily, I managed to convince the judge that it was a pre-existing condition in the gear box (I hadn't driven the car that much, since one of the three weeks was the week of the UK petrol crisis; and I certainly wasn't being harsh on the car), and got back the full amount of a new gear box plus installation, not to mention court fees plus interest.
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Old 02-09-2003, 02:09 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Here's some more info about the tranny I was going to put in an article on NTPOG:

Q: Is there ANYTHING that can be done to prevent problems with the transmisson? Possibly treating some of the components??

A: Not that I know of. Try to rev match and treat the shifter knob with the utmost respect. Most of the problems with the tranny come from improper clutching or grinding that just eventually gets out of hand. DO NOT force the car into gear when it does not want to go.

Q: Why is reverse hard to engage sometimes?
A: There's no telling. It's normal for the reverse to not engage all the time since it isn't synchro'd at all. Put it back in neutral, let up on the clutch, then clutch and try again. Also try to wait a half second before engaging so the shafts have a chance to stop spinning. Doing a quick shift into reverse without letting the shafts spin down inevitably gives you that grinding sound that means you are wearing down the teeth going into reverse. This can also lead to tough(er) shifting into reverse over time.

Q: Why is first hard to engage sometimes?
A: It is synchoed like the other forward gears, but... sometimes it is still tough to engage. If it does this, do the same as you would in reverse- put it in neutral, clutch, then try again. The gears just might not be lined up. If you are trying to do it while rolling, rev match. The clutch and PP are so close together that they are still viscously coupled by air. You can ease the shift into first (and other gears) by rev matching to help the gears engage smoother since the viscous coupling will change the speed of the transmission.

Q: Will double-clutching help?
A: I think double clutching is a red herring and it's something that people that don't work on cars (or know much about them technically) do. It accomplishes the same thing rev matching does but with more clutch wear. Unless something is very wrong with your transmission, you should never need to double-clutch. If something is very wrong with your transmission, you should get it fixed!

Q: What are the prices (ballpark) on replacement pieces?
A: Look them up on http://www.hondaautomotiveparts.com - the synchros aren't that bad, the gears and mainshafts are VERY pricey. Getting a used unit is cheaper, though a little more risky. Having to rebuild an entire transmission (synchros, bearings, shift forks) will run at least $1500 from a dealer including labor. It will likely take them at least a week to do it. It is also likely that you will need gears replaced which start to get very pricey. If you have to replace the mainshafts or case on top of it, it will be cheaper to buy a new unit.

Q: Do you have any opinion on why this happens to SOME of us but not nearly all of us?
A: I honestly think it is driving style. The clearances I'm betting are VERY consistent from car to car, it probably has more to do with how well people rev match and help prevent the grinding in the first place.

FWIW, of the 3 5g trannies I've had apart now, all 3 of them had their bearing ports plugged by metal and Hondabond debris. I am not sure if this is a cause or effect, but I can tell you that frequent changes of the transmission oil (Honda oil only, please) can only help.
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Old 02-09-2003, 05:38 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I guess I'll have to find a new way of putting the car in 1st when I get to a stop.... what I usually do is press on the clutch, put the shifter in 2nd (I don't know why I do this) then push it in 1st until the cars gets slow enough to let it go in
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Old 02-09-2003, 07:00 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Marcucci, your the man. Thanks for the info
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Old 02-10-2003, 09:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I have some of these problems occasionally.

Also, if I have trouble getting into 1st, I usually shift to 2nd, then back to 1st. (At a complete stop of course.)
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Old 02-10-2003, 09:31 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by pter
I have some of these problems occasionally.

Also, if I have trouble getting into 1st, I usually shift to 2nd, then back to 1st. (At a complete stop of course.)
Wow, a serious, on-topic post from pter? Out of Off-Topic?? What the hell is going on here?

This morning I was repeatedly trying to rev-match into 1st gear and couldn't do it. Maybe I was revving too high? When done properly will it just slide into gear? I was feeling some resistance so I wasn't about to force anything =\
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