I bought a used 2000 Ford Transit which won't engage into any gear (very stiffly so) when the engine is still cold and just started running.

The previous owner advised that he would start it in the preferred gear (1 or R) depending on the desired direction after starting, as the gear change is so smooth when the engine is off.

This is what I have noticed:

  • When the engine is heated (after some 15 minutes of idling in neutral), the gear change starts to smoothen and gets fluid for the rest of the drive.
  • The GLOW light is always flicking, and the previous owner was driving it as is for a long time.
  • The battery light is also ON

When I bought it, it had been used for light work including delivery and as a minibus for transporting 4-year-old school children to and from school daily.

Before I take this to a shop, could there be a correlation between the lights am seeing and the gear issue? The reason why I am keen on doing this myself first is that I have already fixed some "dead / old" items with minimal effort, and realized the van was only neglected even for small DIY maintenance and can be resuscitated with little effort. Already:

  • Side Sliding Door, which only needed a nudge and oiling of the lock mechanism, but was considered dead for years
  • Interior which was turned grey, and I cleaned it new with about 11 hours of work
  • Removed exterior sticker from the first owner, which had been left or covered with other stickers.

The gear change lever and engine look great and give me hope that minimal work can resurrect them to brand condition. Any ideas on what the gear issue might be?

1 Answer 1


I assume you mean an automatic transmission. They are sensitive to the oil properties , low temperatures may accentuate some problems . I would change the trans oil ( and filter) and put in the Ford recommended oil. I once changed trans oil ( in a GM hydromatic- ask you grandfather what that is). Put in good oil and cold weather shifting problems went away overnight. Oil is not that expensive and it couldn't hurt.

  • I would hazard a guess that the Transit is likely to be manual...
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 20, 2019 at 9:53

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