Sometimes it is difficult to engage 1st gear and reverse gear when parking only for this Toyota corolla manual transmission 1.3 car. Is it related to gears problem or low level gear oil. Kindly advise. Tks

  • What year is the vehicle? Dec 17 '16 at 12:36
  • Year 1986 Toyota corolla.tks
    – Mel Lim
    Dec 18 '16 at 4:40

I had a 2011 Toyota Yaris with a manual transmission, and I believe I know what your problem is (see Is it common to fail engaging first gear or a manual transmission car occasionally?). The problem is that the parts in the transmission are in an unfavourable position, just at the position which prevents engaging the gear. And they stay in that position permanently if you are at a standstill, unless you do something to move the parts in the transmission.

To solve the problem, there are several options. One option is to select neutral and release the clutch pedal for a brief moment. Then you can try again to select the gear you want (1 or R).

Another option is to select another gear and then again select the gear you want. So, e.g. if 1 doesn't engage, try engaging 2 and then again 1. Or try engaging 3 and then again 1.

If you drive the car long enough, you will learn to apply these solutions automatically. All it takes is one second.

The car did have the problem even when it was new. It might be possible that the problem somewhat worsened with age due to misuse of the transmission (doing something that causes a grinding noise), but I'm not sure about that as I have no accurate statistical data. Before the 2011 Toyota Yaris, I had a 1989 Opel Vectra that also had the same problem, but only for the reverse gear, not for the gear 1.

Of course, do remember that the reverse gear is not synchronized, so if you hear grinding noise when attempting to select the reverse gear when moving, it means that you shouldn't do that. You should stop the car and then try again to engage R. Similarly, although the gear 1 is synchronized, the synchronizers are usually quite weak, meaning that if traveling at any significant speed, you shouldn't try to engage 1. If you do, it adds additional synchronizer wear.

  • +1, and: Don't force the trans into the gear, just try the two tricks
    – sweber
    Dec 17 '16 at 13:37
  • I just had this problem in a 2002 Mazda Protege. After a quick visual inspection i found the motor and transmission mounts well worn, which was causing the transmission to be in an unfavorable position for shifting into first and reverse. After replacing the mounts, the cars shifts great... and it doesn't feel like the engine is flopping around in the engine bay anymore, so that's a plus.
    – Tiny Giant
    Jul 7 '18 at 15:39

One of two things is most likely happening:

  1. Your master cylinder is failing.
  2. You may have air between the clutch master and slave cylinders.

First and reverse are the hardest gears to shift into on most manual transmissions. If the clutch is not releasing completely, such as would happen in either one of these scenarios, it would make it hard to shift into these gears.

You can possibly attempt to bleed the clutch system. You'll also want to check the master cylinder reservoir to ensure there is enough hydraulic fluid in it. This is most likely just brake fluid. You should be able to visually check the level without having to take the cap off.

  • I had already replaced clutch fluid due to dirty(old fluid black in color) and checked no leak and air removed in master and slave cylinders.Therefore it is easier to engage 1st gear and reverse gear when parking.Thanks.
    – Mel Lim
    Dec 24 '16 at 0:22

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