Had a shift linkage bushing go out on our manual 03 Dodge Neon (85k miles). Ziptied ring to shifter to hobble home and light driving after ordering aftermarket bushings. Replaced just the bad bushing, and all was well until shortly after wife reported car was weird.

No power getting to the wheels. Car seems to go into gear, but it's like I'm riding the clutch when it's all the way up. I can drop the clutch in first and not stall. Gotta go to 4k rpm to get to 10mph in first. Wife had been driving it like this for about a week. Said she just stayed below 50 and kept it out of the redline. SMH...

Worried shifter was not quite in gear, replaced other bushings at the transmission, both were gone, but probably were from the beginning, even after I "fixed" it with the zip tie the first time. Now shifter is tight, but no change.

Since it was drivable after the zip tie and suddenly not after the bushing, I don't suspect clutch. (unless they suddenly go out at the same time?) Or did making only one bushing tighter mess up the transmission in some way? Why would this start right after the bushing replace?

  • Just a thought… It seems that you're not really in gear. I assume that you don't have much in the way of hills that you need to go up? With a manual (and a clutch that is not slipping) there is a direct relationship between engine speed and road speed. If I understand you correctly that isn't true since the repair. This makes me think that something is limiting the travel of the shifter and that maybe you are driving on the synchros. See if you can find something that limits the travel of the shifter. Or try disconnecting it to see if you can get the transmission into gear without it.
    – dlu
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:48
  • Thought about this. Disconnecting the shifter and pushing the transmission "arms"(?) into position to see if I get fully into gear. Any tricks to doing this or just move the transmission arms to maximum position? Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 15:56
  • I don't know for sure on that transmission… One thing to keep in mind is that the detents to keep the transmission in gear may be part of the shift mechanism (so you may not want to drive like this, but you can probably feel it as you move the transmission). You can probably tell just from trying to roll the car or move a drive wheel – now I would think it would move pretty easily even if it is "in" gear.
    – dlu
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 16:03
  • Did you by chance replace the bushing for the clutch cable?
    – rpmerf
    Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 18:40
  • Replaced four bushings. Replaced the one where I used a zip tie first, then a few days later the side to side at the shifter. Then after these problems arose, replaced the two at the transmission. Tightened up the shifting, but no change. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


I would suggest removing the linkage from the shifter and move the linkage directly at the transmission into second. I believe it is one arm. In and out is like moving the shifter side to side. Rotating the arm puts it into the individual gears. Play with it and you should be able to find reverse as it sounds different when you go in. Put it in second, start it and try to move the car.

It sound like there is an issue with the clutch linkage. make sure it isn't getting hung up somewhere. You may need to adjust the clutch linkage. On the older dodge's the adjustment is at the clutch pedal.

Its possible its time for a clutch replacement, especially after the abuse its been though.

  • Moved linkage directly in reverse and first, car wouldn't roll in those positions, so I'm pretty sure it's in gear, but no change. I was able to start the car, and take the clutch entirely off with the emergency brake on, and it wouldn't stall. Got under the clutch and found what I think is the adjustment, moved it forward (I think that's the right way). Pic is with clutch at rest. No change imgur.com/a/KUe0x Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 1:46
  • At work so I can't see the image. Is your clutch cable or hydraulic? If its cable - put the car in first or reverse, remove the clutch cable, remove the coil to distributor wire so it doesn't start. Have the vehicle pointed in a safe direction. Try to start the car. The starter should make the car move. If its hydraulic, you might be able to remove the slave cylinder. Do not remove the line, as then you would need to bleed it. By removing the cable or slave cylinder, you are ensuring the pressure plate isn't be held open.
    – rpmerf
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 10:50
  • Hydraulic. I wish it was cable at this point. I'm still learning all this drivetrain stuff, so I'll do some research on what you've asked me to do and how to do it on this car. Thanks for the patience and detail. Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 16:57
  • I believe I understand what you're going for, and was able to take these pictures; imgur.com/a/XHstN It appears the slave cylinder is retracted, and the clutch fork is all the way forward. If it is, then the clutch should be fully engaged, and the problem is either the friction plate or the transmission. Either is odd to have working perfectly and then stop. Pressing the clutch only pushes the fork only about 2 inches, which doesn't seem right, but should mean the clutch is fully engaged anyway? I'll still try to remove the cylinder as you suggested, but am worried at this point. Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 12:24
  • 1
    I'm really thinking it's your clutch. it might had started to go bad, then got worse, and you didn't hear about it until it was really bad. The reason I ask about the slave cylinder is I am thinking it might be possible it is not closing all of the way, very similar to a sticking brake caliper. If you can remove the slave cylinder (looks like 2 bolts) you can be sure the is not pressure holding the pressure plate open. However, after all of this, I would be surprised if your clutch and pressure plate are in good condition. I'm wondering if there is a way to see the wear on the clutch plate
    – rpmerf
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 12:38

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