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I seem to be having a bit of trouble with the first gear of a 2004 Opel Corsa. I have pulled off the gear stick cover and cant see anything stuck so it must be something that is more internal. When i try to move into first gear from neutral it often gets stuck, same for the reverse gear which is in the top left position and 1st is right next to it on the top. By stuck i mean i cannot push the gear stick in fully, it feels like something is blocking it from going in. If I press the clutch and move into 3rd gear then back into 1st it usually works as normal. I can also wiggle the stick sometimes when it only feels partially blocked and this gets rid of whatever is blocking it.

The issue persists when the engine is not running. Going into first still gets stuck, so im guessing its the gearbox that is at fault. There doesnt appear to be any issues getting into the other gears its only the top left gears which would mean the bottom right of the gear box?

I would like to see if i could fix this myself as the local mechanic always gives a crazy quote (200 to tighten a handbreak). Can this even be fixed or is the gearbox fit for the bin?

  • Is this a new issue, or has it always happened? Can you remove the shift linkage and try shifting it right at the transmission? If you can go into other gears fine, it is unlikely a clutch issue. I am thinking it is an issue with the synchros. I sometimes will feel first or reverse being blocked, so I slowly let out the clutch while gently pushing on the shifter, and it will go into gear. – rpmerf Aug 8 '16 at 14:26
  • its been happening for a while, but its happening more often now that its becoming a driving hazard. I havnt been able to identify any conditions or scenarios that cause it to happen. seems to be entirely random. Before i poke around, should i attempt to lift off the clutch a bit and see if it frees up whatever is blocking? – Dan Hastings Aug 8 '16 at 14:32
  • You can try that. Just go slow, if you come off too fast, you will likely grind. OR you can try going into second then first or reverse. Or, you can let the clutch out in neutral then try to go into first or reverse again. Curious, Do you go Neutral, hit the clutch, put it in gear, or is there a delay between hitting the clutch and putting it in gear, like holding the clutch in at a light. Wondering if the synchros might be having issues because nothing in the trans is spinning. – rpmerf Aug 8 '16 at 14:40
  • It could be that the gear linkage needs lubricated, is out of adjustment or has word and requires a overhaul. – Steve Matthews Aug 8 '16 at 14:44
  • i am in the habit of going from 2nd to neutral when coming to a stop. Ill put the clutch in when i think the light is going to turn green and go into gear when it does. So often there can be a few seconds between the clutch going in and moving the stick into first gear. when it does stick ill keep my foot on the clutch, go into 3rd and ill feel a bit of a bump, i know then that the first gear is no longer stuck – Dan Hastings Aug 8 '16 at 14:45
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I am not familiar with this particular model, but it sounds like a detent issue. If the shifter goes directly into the transmission, all linkages are internal. Some transmissions have plugs on them that hold detent pins, or balls and springs. There are indentations in the shifter shafts, three on each shaft (except possibly the reverse shaft). One for neutral, and one for the gear on either side (1st/2nd). When you push the shifter into a gear, it helps to hold it in place once shifted. There are also detents between the shafts and pins that go through the shafts so that only 1 shaft can move at a time. There are indentations on the sides of the shafts and pins go between the shafts, in the case. They are longer than the hole in the case so that when you shift one shaft, the pin pushes into the indentation in the other shaft keeping it from moving, so you cannot shift two shafts at the same time, which would lock up the transmission. That being said, it sounds like there is not enough lubrication at those pins, or they are worn and getting stuck, binding and not returning when trying to shift the 1st gear shaft. That would be why when you shift the other shaft (1/2 on one shaft, 3/4 on the other) going into third gear, moves the pin and dislodges it. This would also account for it not going into reverse, because the pin at the 3/4 shaft is getting stuck and no other shaft can move. Depending on how it goes together and the amount of room for repairs, it could be done in the car, but more than likely it means taking the transmission out and at least a partial disassembly to check/replace the pins. Let us know what you find out. Good luck!

  • taking my foot slowly off the clutch when it gets stuck fixed the issue. I felt it un block itself as i let off the clutch by about 1-2 cm. does this help better narrow down what caused it? – Dan Hastings Aug 10 '16 at 15:02
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Sounds like a synchronizer issue. If it were a detentent issue it would not change when you let the clutch out slightly. That is allowing the input shaft to turn slightly and get the gears to line up so you can put it into gear. Have you tried changing the transmission fluid? That would be the first step. If you do, make sure it is the correct fluid, the type the manufacturer specifies. You will need to drive it for a couple of weeks or so (depending on how much you drive) to see if there is an improvement. If that doesn't do it, sounds like a rebuild is in your future, unless you learn to live with it.

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