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944 Shifting is 'Crunchy'

I purchased an '87 944 S a couple of months ago. From the PPI, I knew that the shift level was worn and needed replacement. After a few weeks of driving, I noticed that it was starting to feel 'crunchy' when I would shift -- particularly going into 3rd gear. I replaced the level myself with the part here from Pelican hoping that this would fix the issue. It didn't. So, I opened it back up and adjusted the positioning of the level forwards and backwards until it got a little better, but it's still not shifting as smoothly as I would expect.

Full disclosure: this is the first car I've ever owned with a manual transmission, so I really have nothing to compare the feel of shifting it to. I just hope I didn't do too much damage to the transmission learning to drive a manual. I have been riding motorcycles for decades, so I at least understand the fundamentals...

At any rate, to define 'crunchy': I don't have any issues finding the gears; except reverse sometimes. The transmission doesn't make any grinding noises or anything like that. The shifter feels tight -- certainly tighter now with a new lever. When the car is idling, I can shift through the gears just fine. However, when I accelerate, something grinds or crunches as I move the level into the next gear. Sometimes 3rd even feels like it kicks back at me as I shift.

Thoughts?

Thanks!

Old 09-16-2018, 03:20 PM
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Maybe bad syncros in the transmission or maybe the clutch is not disengaging completely during shifts due to a failing hydraulic clutch master or slave cylinder.

You should hope that it is clutch hydraulics failing, because that is easier to fix than replacing syncros. I think that this is more probable as the cause than bad syncros, unless the PO really abused the transmission. Good luck!

To test, start your car and at idle push in the clutch pedal and engage each forward gear, then engage reverse. If the forward gears can be engaged with little or no grinding, but reverse grinds, that is an indicator that the clutch is not completely disengaging. Since all of the forward gears are synchronized they will tend to go ahead and engage with little resistance. But reverse is not synchronized and it will tend to grind because the clutch is not completely disengaged.

Last edited by Spring44; 09-16-2018 at 05:27 PM..
Old 09-16-2018, 04:37 PM
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clunky?

Clunking in gear may be a sign of a bad synchro. I have been living with a clunky 2nd for ages. If your linkage is solid and your clutch is properly adjusted,, it might just be a bad synchro. You could replace the transmission gear oil, that helped a bit for me. I also tend to double clutch and shift into the affected gear a little slower while matching rpms, like I was shifting a truck.

IF it is a bad synchro, the "fix" involves removing and likely replacing the transmission. Removing the transmission is a BIG job and so I have decided to live with my bad synchro.
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Old 09-16-2018, 04:39 PM
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When you say shift lever I assume you're talking about the part in the cabin. Before you get too deep into synchros, try the low-hanging fruit. Check the shifter linkage on the transaxle too. There are two parts that you should inspect for any looseness and look at the condition of the rubber bushings. There is the shifter itself and a pivot arm on the back. If the rubber here is worn out it might cause what you're describing.

I would recommend changing these parts and using the pieces from only944.com they are high quality and make shifting much more precise than before by eliminating all the rubber back there. Also try a fluid flush, it is cheap and easy to try before doing anything more drastic.
Old 09-17-2018, 04:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring44 View Post
To test, start your car and at idle push in the clutch pedal and engage each forward gear, then engage reverse. If the forward gears can be engaged with little or no grinding, but reverse grinds, that is an indicator that the clutch is not completely disengaging. Since all of the forward gears are synchronized they will tend to go ahead and engage with little resistance. But reverse is not synchronized and it will tend to grind because the clutch is not completely disengaged.
Thanks, Spring44! I did this test on the way into work this morning. I was able to shift from forward gears to reverse with about the same feel. So, I don't think this is it. I did just flush the master cylinder a month ago.

Incidentally, I can't shift from 5th to reverse directly. I assume this is a safety feature.

Getting back to the shifter level (the one in the cabin): I replaced this a couple of weeks ago and the shifter is tighter than it was; but with the shifter in 1st gear, I can still move it side to side about an inch, inch-and-a-half. Having no frame of reference, is that normal? If not, I may need to Google how to inspect/replace linkage components as RedCarGuy suggests.

I could replace the transmission fluid as SolReaver suggested as well. I'll have to review the maintenance records that came with the car to see when it was last done.

I'm holding out hope that this won't be a new transmission...
Old 09-17-2018, 05:05 AM
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Here is a write-up with video on replacing the shifter to give you an idea.

https://www.only944.com/instructions/shortshifterinstall/
Old 09-17-2018, 08:08 AM
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I watched this video. I also found this one here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qQynDMVhUY

This guy takes it one step farther and replaces the welded stud on the shifter arm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWnC9gD1tic

So, I think my next step is to install this short shifter kit and see if that resolves the crunchiness:
https://www.only944.com/partscatalog/only/shortshifter/
https://www.only944.com/partscatalog/only/shiftlinkagearm/

I'll have to pop the tire off tonight and take a look at home much play I have down there.
Old 09-17-2018, 11:57 AM
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Okay, I popped the wheel off and had my wife work the shifter while I observed. There was a little bit of play in the shift linkage, but the shift linkage arm was basically just flopping around. Obviously, those rubber bushings are shot!

I imagine this could this be the cause of the crunchy shifting...

I should probably replace the shift linkage with the above short shifter while I'm in there.


Edit...

Damn! I wish I knew about only944.com before I bought a shift level from Penguin! I think this one is much better: https://www.only944.com/partscatalog/only/shifter/

Last edited by adamjhilton; 09-17-2018 at 06:03 PM..
Old 09-17-2018, 05:49 PM
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So, I've been trying various things with shifting to see what helps with the crunchiness. What I've found is that when I shift up, I let the tachometer come back down to ~2500 RPMs before I put it into the next gear. This alleviates most of the crunchiness.

Thoughts?
Old 09-19-2018, 06:55 AM
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Sounds like synchros....

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Old 09-19-2018, 08:11 AM
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