Why Your Car Won’t Downshift To First?

Gear can be changed up or down. The basic rule is that you change the gear up as the speed goes up and change the gear down when you need more power from the engine. First gear provides the most pulling power and least potential for speed while fifth gear provides the least pulling power and allows the greatest range of speed.

After practicing automotive and gear-changing skills, you must notice that sometimes your car won’t downshift to first gear. To understand it better read this article.

Why Your Car Won’t Downshift To First?

Usually, in manual transmission, the first gear is used only for starting the vehicle. This is because the ratio between first gear and second gear is very large and unsynchronized. This ratio difference is mainly created by synchromesh.

Synchromesh is almost like a small clutch that seat on the output gear between the gear, decreasing or increasing the required gear’s relative speed to perform a perfect meshing of teeth within the transmission. The synchromesh has to work too hard for the first gear than for the remaining gear. So, when trying to downshift to the first, the relative difference between output and input shaft will be large compared to another gear ratio. Thus your car won’t downshift to first gear.

For example, In an advanced car, the car radio of the first gear 3.6:1 which means the gear completes one rotation in 3.6 rotation of the crankshaft. Similarly for second, third, fourth, and fifth gear, the ratio will be 2.1:1,1.4:1,1:1,0.8:1 and 0.7:1. This concludes that the difference between the gear ratio gets smaller as you go higher.

Symptoms Of The Bad Gearbox

Sometimes, manual transmission cars have problems in shifting due to problems with clutch or transmission. Read this article to know the reason behind cars won’t downshift to first gear.

1. Clutch System

There are mainly 6 part n clutch system- clutch master cylinder, release cylinder, clutch cover, clutch disc, release bearing, and release fork. The clutch disc and input shaft transmission are together and the clutch cover is connected with the engine’s flywheel.

When you push the clutch pedal, the pressure will transmit to the clutch master cylinder, then to the release cylinder, then to the release fork to disengage between the clutch cover and clutch disc. In this position, the gear will be neutral.

If this clutch master cylinder becomes defective, the shifting of the gear becomes difficult. This happens when there is a loss of fluid pressure in the clutch master cylinder which can make the clutch not disengage properly.

2. Synchronizer Ring

If the synchronizer ring were to get damaged, it would be difficult to shift the transmission.

The role of the Synchronizer ring is to efforts engage the gear. The ring is made up of small teeth which allow it smoothly be engaged by the hub sleeve and then into the main gear.

3. Gears

The main component of the manual transmission system is gear. It is made up of reverse gear, first gear, second gear, third gear, fourth gear, fifth gear, and counter gear, and sometimes sixth gear also. Each gear has one big tooth and other small teeth.

The function of small teeth is to accept the hub sleeve engagement with the synchronizer ring. The function of big teeth is to engage the counter gear which sends a transmission to the output shaft.

If any of the teeth get the malfunction, the transmission makes noise.

4. Hub Gear

The purpose of hub gear is to engage the two gear such as hub gear is present between first and second gear, third and fourth gear. It forms a bridge between two gear.

If hub gear becomes damaged, there will be a problem in shifting your manual transmission because hub gear is directly connected with the transmission shaft.

5. Hub Sleeve

The main purpose of the hub sleeve is to engage the main gear with a hub gear. Depending on the location in which the gear shifts, the hub sleeve can also move from right to left.

If the hub sleeve gets destroy, it would difficult to shift the transmission.

6. Gear Oil

The purpose of gear oil is the lubricate the gear of the manual gearbox. Gear oil is very thick as it has to put with extreme heat.

If you hear a strange noise from the gearbox, it is due to low gear oil. Once it, it will become harder and cannot shift the transmission.

How To Fix A Faulty Gearbox?

The solutions to help the car won’t downshift to first are double-clutching and rev-matching. Follow the below procedure to get the solution

1. Press the clutch pedal.

2. Move the shifter from second to neutral.

3. Release the clutch pedal.

4. Again press the clutch pedal.

5. Move the shifter from neutral to first now.

6. Finally, release the clutch.

At that point, you can drive in the first clutch.

Follow this procedure only when your car has a manual transmission system because the automatic transmission system car can automatically change their gear from second to first. If the automatic transmission car has some problem with gear, find one of the symptoms in your car is mentioned above.

What Will Be The Replacement Cost?

The replacement cost only for an automatic transmission car. Depending upon the making and model of the car the cost varies. The exact pay of the parts will be 30$ to 300$ but with the part cost the labor cost will be added. The labour cost varies between the mechanics to mechanics. Labour costs can be 120$ to 400$.


These gear changing tips will be helpful if you face the same problem of your non synchronize manual transmission car won’t downshift to first. And also extend the life of the transmission system.

Downshift solenoid is the important part of the car, without the downshift vehicle would not shift the gear properly. For this reason, if you suspect that your downshift solenoid may be having an issue, take the car to the professional mechanics to determine whether the car needs any replacement or not.

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