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I have a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse, 5 speed manual. Transmission works great, but one thing I’ve noticed is that when in neutral, the gear shift seems to stick to the left or right. Sometimes it might “crawl” to the center, but not usually. My previous manual transmission car was a 79 Mazda RX-7 and the shifter sprung effortlessly to the center while in neutral, facilitating easy shifting -- especially into/between third and fourth. Is this normal behavior (i.e. different cars act differently) and how complicated is it to add or restore this spring action?

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  • 3
    Yes, the gear stick in a manual should centre itself when in neutral (so as to allow the driver to know where it will be at all times without having to look at it). As DatsonZ1 says, it's likely that the centring springs are worn or broken, but if the stick is stiff to move around it's possible the bushings are old and stiff and preventing the return springs pulling it back to centre. – Clonkex Apr 15 at 23:03
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Its going to be one of 3 things, its either the shifter bushings, needs an adjustment, or the return springs are worn out. All of those are fairly easy. When you put it in gear is there a lot of movement or does it feel stiff? if it's not stiff then you need bushings. When its in neutral does it feel springy when you move it side to side? if not you need to replace the springs-from what i've read i think this is your problem. Hopefully the linkages on your tranny aren't buried, if they are not then no worries it'll be real easy. Just be very careful when you are taking them apart they are probably plastic and very brittle. You can definitely find a diy if you google enough. Best of luck!

  • Mine sits biased to 3&4 which is the centre, light pressure to get 1&2 on the left and 5&6 on the right. So good answer. – Solar Mike Apr 15 at 14:54
  • I think you're right on the money when it comes to the reasons, but maybe being a bit dismissive when it comes to difficulty. It could be work getting at these. – GdD Apr 15 at 15:32
  • @GdD hmm maybe im used to the bushings in my 280z(has a r154/1j in it) and the linkages on my jetta. Both were super accessible which made the job very easy. The actual work is easy as long as you can get to it! – DatsunZ1 Apr 15 at 15:36
  • These days the "linkages" may actually be cables. The OP is correct that stick should be "centered" between the 3rd/4th gear positions (i.e. only up and down movement required to get those gears) when in neutral. – alephzero Apr 15 at 17:42
  • Just to answer the questions, when in gear, the shifter feels tight and secure. When in neutral, it's workable from side to side, but not springy insofar as it centers itself -- hence my issue. – bvy Apr 15 at 19:13

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