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With a lot of Googling I've found loads of different things that could be causing this - and none for a Ford Transit so I hope someone can explain exactly what is causing this problem, and from the mechanical side, what is actually physically happening, (and how the mechanism actually works).

Often when I try to go into first gear, the stick does not go all the way in, and it makes a grinding sound. It seems worse when the van is at a stand still - it goes in far more easily when the van is rolling slightly (a few mph). If I depress and repress the clutch, sometimes it goes in, but can take 3-4 attempts at times. The reverse gear has the same problem, but I have not tried it while rolling forward or backwards, since it's not all that easy!

The model is a 2005 2.0L Diesel SWB.

What part is likely to be needing repair? Perhaps someone can give a link to an example part? For example:

Thanks

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This could be the clutch as you seem to suspect. The effect of the clutch not separating the engine from the gearbox fully is that the input shaft never stops rotating when in neutral. If you have noticed the clutch pedal not releasing as high as before, this is likely. If it's the synchronizer that's bad, moving into second gear and then first should help. (As that will stop the input shaft completely to match the output shaft)

A clutch that does not fully disengage can be caused by different things. If it is a mechanical linkage, it might need adjustment. I think yours is hydraulic though, in that case you might want to check your fluid level and make sure no air is in the system or leaks is apparent in the master or slave cylinder. Bleed it and see if there's a change.

If it's not the hudraulics, it's likely mechanical and you would have to remove the gearbox to fix it.

Manual transmission
(source: automotivearticles.com)

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It sounds as though the first gear synchro is or has gone out. This is a part within the transmission. The part allows the gears on both sides of the transmission (drive/driven) to mesh correctly. It is a wear item which is designed to take the abuse instead of the gears.

If fixing this is not in the near future, you can try something which might help get by. When you go to shift into first, try shifting into second, then straight up into first from there (no hesitation after you start your move from second to first). This may help keep things aligned while you are trying to shift and allow the operation to happen without the grind.

The only typical way to get this fixed is by taking it to a qualified transmission shop. They can not only diagnose for sure, but get it fixed if needed.

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My guess it's 2ltr fwd Go to a local scrap yard that has one in try if it goes in every gear easy without running if so you want the gear selector cables off it for around £20-£30 and fit them on your van these cables are most common fault also ive done loads of them won't go in 1st and abit tough going in reverse the cables un clip too nice easy job if it was a clutch issue it would do it in all gears as it's jus first it's a selection problem just change them cables but be sure the van you take them off feels like it goes in perfect

  • Just incase you don't know what to look for I will explain under your gearstick outside the van there is a black plastic box just unclip 4-5 clips round it you will then see two cables usualy one blue one grey next you need pointy nose plyers to push the two teeth clips together and a gentle push or pull depending on your angle it will pop off there is a slide clip pull that down away from the box this will release the cable from the box then follow the cable up to the selector again it will unclip same two pin type as before a little tricky to do but takes 10mins usualy – Transitsrule Dec 10 '18 at 15:13
  • Thanks for the extra clarification (and welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair!). Since it adds to your existing answer, you should go ahead and edit it in. Thanks! – Cullub Dec 10 '18 at 16:05

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