2006 Honda Civic, Manual Transmission.

Symptom: After I turn the car on, in "neutral", the stick shift won't go into gear, as if the clutch, when pressed, is not disengaging and releasing for gear change.

When I turn the car off I can easily change gears.

The problem happened a few times before, but after gently trying to push and pull into gears it worked and once it gets going the problem is almost was never there - totally smooth operation. But now it's stuck again and haven't been able to release it.

I am hoping it's a transmission fluid issue? Never had clutch issues before, and I am a smooth manual transmission driver. Is it possible to top-off the 2006 Honda Civic's transmission fluid from the top without having to go under the car and mess around with high torque bolts and cumbersome fluid transfers etc. I have no mechanical inclinations the car is parked in the middle of busy street in tight parking arrangement, so going under the car and messing around is not practical. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE : Solution was the clutch FLUID - as per suggested by @Paulster2 below.

Day 1: I checked the clutch fluid reservoir - it was empty! I filled it to the top with break fluid - pumped the clutch a good 100 times, and watched "bubbles" come out one at a time (probably air trapped in the line). The fluid went down to middle between max and min in reservoir. Turned the car on and tried putting in gear - it wouldn't go into 1st or 2nd, but it went into 3rd which was much better than none! I started driving a bit, starting from 3rd (very gradually letting the clutch out) - so it looked like there was some improvement but not quite back to normal.

Day 2: Still same, very hard to put in any gear, except 3rd. I opened the clutch reservoir and topped off with break fluid and tightened the cap, some liquid spilled out. I tried driving again after topping off - WOW! Now I can put into every gear - it seems the problem is completely gone! I have no idea what happened between half full to forced top off of clutch fluid reservoir - but it seemed to have fixed the problem.

One remaining artifact: when in neutral I hear a rotational scrapping sound in the clutch - BUT the sound goes away when I put it in gear! Now I just need to figure out if I still need to get the clutch checked out? But thank you @Paulster2 : the day was saved (and $$$) with your answer!

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Jan 15 at 1:18
  • PS: Is your question title correct? It contradicts what's in the question body. Jan 15 at 1:22
  • Thank you @Paulster, title edited to remove ambiguity.
    – Zebra Fish
    Jan 16 at 5:21

1 Answer 1


The problem is clutch related. It could be the reservoir for the clutch master cylinder is not full up. You might have air in the lines. Any which way, the problem is that the pressure plate is not releasing the friction disk completely (if at all), which is causing things inside the transmission to spin. When it's spinning on one end and not on the other, you can't put it into gear. When the engine isn't running, neither end is turning so you can easily put it in gear.

The transmission fluid level would have nothing to do with it. Very, very rarely does the fluid in a manual transmission get low unless there's a leak. Even if there was a leak, this would not be the symptoms you'd see.

  • Also, check and confirm that a floor mat or carpet is not interfering with full depression of the clutch pedal.
    – MTA
    Jan 15 at 13:42
  • No obstructions from the MAT, but it's challenging to push the clutch all the way in in general
    – Zebra Fish
    Jan 16 at 5:24
  • Thank you @Paulster2 : You were spot on with clutch fluid/reservoir suggestion. Problem solved. There were some subtlety in resolution that I listed in the Question UPDATE.
    – Zebra Fish
    Jan 19 at 0:54

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