I have a problem with my 2011 Toyota Yaris manual transmission car where the first gear occasionally doesn't engage when at standstill. This happens rarely, probably once per month.

What I do to get the first gear to engage:

  • I first try moving the selector back to neutral and to first gear again without releasing the clutch. Sometimes this helps.
  • I try moving the selector to another gear (usually the second gear) and to first gear again. This helps often but not always.
  • If both previous steps have failed, I move the selector to neutral, release the clutch, press the clutch again and engage the first gear. This has never failed to work, although it is possible (but extremely rare) that I have to do this twice.

This problem happens with the reverse too, probably more often than with the first gear.

This is somewhat annoying because it may mean extra few seconds before managing to drive from a stoplight. I have read from online forums that other Yaris owners have had this problem, too, so I assume it is a feature of the transmission rather than a genuine problem.

How common is this phenomenon on other types of cars?

  • 1
    How many miles are on your Yaris? Also, you didn't really describe what "failure" to engage the gear means? Does it grind, or does it just not go into gear? Commented Dec 26, 2015 at 0:56
  • Did you still want to get this answered? If so, please update and I might be able to help you. Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 1:49
  • The car did this too when at zero miles (purchased as new). When I sold the car, it had about 80 000 kilometers, and still was as bad as when new. Might have been somewhat worse when I sold it, as I don't have accurate statistics.
    – juhist
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 13:04

3 Answers 3


It's quite a common 'feature' of cheap cars, don't worry about it.

I have a Hyundai Getz that does this far more often. It happens when the teeth on the synchro ring for first don't line up properly or, if you're really unlucky, you have no synchro at all on first and the teeth on the gears are lined up wrong. Engaging 2nd or releasing the clutch will rotate the gear so that the teeth are lined up differently and you've got another chance at engaging it.

If it's any consolation, the success rate for getting an old Getz into 1st while you're moving is low, I've taken to double-clutching it for that.


This happens to me too, it's really nothing to worry about, just release the clutch, then depress it and shift into first, same with reverse, if its hard to get it in reverse, just wiggle the shifter around side to side in neutral and then try it, sould work.


I have the exact same problem with my Chevrolet spark 2013 which happens a lot, like once or twice a day. While releasing the clutch when this happens and press it again has never failed, I've observed that if you press the clutch, wait for 2-3 seconds and engage to first it is less likely to happen. In my car I think it happens because I engage to first quite fast after pressing the clutch.

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