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My 2006 Toyota Matrix w/185k miles transmission failed while I was driving and the most unique symptom is that the gear shift won't move at all anymore. Not only can I not put it into any gear while holding in the clutch but the usual play of the gear shift (moving it left to right) while in neutral isn't even there.

History:

  • I haven't performed any maintenance/service on the clutch/transmission at all
  • the night before the failure I had trouble getting it to shift into reverse. I felt like I've always had a little trouble since I first drove the car home where occasionally the gears would be sitting in a bad spot and if I moved the car even an inch it would go right into gear but this night it took a lot more work
  • I've never felt any slipping of the clutch up to this point (I expected to have to replace the clutch at some point and was waiting to at least feel some slipping)
  • about a mile before the car was rendered immobile it felt like it might have popped out of gear for 1/4 second and then popped back in. I wasn't entirely sure I wasn't imagining things
  • I stopped at a stop light and when I was in 4th gear doing a steady 45 a heard some kind of whirring noise in the front and quickly decelerated. It felt like my transmission dropped or something but when I got under and took a look there was nothing noticeably wrong from the outside
  • at this point I was on the side of the road and noticed that my shifter didn't want to move at all. Tow truck driver asked if I was in neutral when he got there and I just said "as far as I can tell" before he got inside to check it out and told me "yep, you f$&'d somethin up"
  • I'm not entirely sure the wheels had full range of motion as if it were in neutral. It was hard to tell but they might've given about a half turn then got stuck and slid onto the flatbed

Brought the car into a pretty good shop but they've got a pretty good wait before I get any kind of verdict so I'm looking for any opinions or if anyone has seen something similar.

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Manual transmissions are fairly simple by nature of moving parts. After reading your description, the first two things that I thought of are...

  1. Bound up or damaged shift linkage
  2. Internal transmission failure/damage causing the gears to be unmovable

Your description that you "heard some kind of whirring noise in the front and quickly decelerated", makes me think it is probably something internal.

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