The shifter cables in a manual transmission are what allow you to pick your desired gear. They're connected to the shift selector in the center console. When you move the shift selector, it pulls on the shifter cables. The shifter cables are connected to rods that move the shift assembly into the proper position for the gear that you're selecting.
Shifter cables are quite durable, but they can become loose over time or break. Moving your shift selector forcefully in order to change gears quickly puts more stress on the cables, which makes them more likely to stretch out or snap. If you're having problem shifting gears with your manual transmission, read on to learn about problems that can be caused by a loose or broken shifter cable.
Your Shift Selector Feels Loose
When your shifter cables become stretched out, they start to lose tension, and this lack of tension will make your shift selector feel very loose when you're shifting gears. You won't feel as much resistance when you're moving the shift selector around.
In addition, your shift selector should drift back towards neutral if you shift out of gear and take your hand off of it. If your shifter cables are loose, then it will be slower to return due to the lack of tension.
Your Car Makes Grinding Noises When You Release the Clutch
The shifter cables in a manual transmission are manufactured with the correct amount of tension to move your shift assembly into exactly the right place when you shift gears. When they become stretched out and lose tension, they won't push the shift assembly into the correct position, and the gears in your transmission will be slightly misaligned. When you ease off the clutch pedal, you'll hear a grinding noise as the misaligned gears make a connection and pull each other together.
Your Car Won't Shift Into Reverse
Cars with a manual transmission have at least two shifter cables. One moves the shift assembly horizontally and the other moves it up and down. Some cars have an additional shifter cable with the sole purpose of putting your car into reverse. If this cable is extremely loose or broken, it won't move the shift assembly into the right position to engage the reverse gear in your car, and your car won't be able to go into reverse.
Your Car Won't Go Into Gear
If the shift cables controlling the horizontal and vertical movement of the shift assembly break entirely, you won't be able to shift into gear at all. They're unable to adjust the position of the shift assembly. In addition, you won't feel any resistance when you're moving your shift selector around, as broken cables won't provide any tension.
If you think that you have a stretched or broken shifter cable, take your car to a transmission repair shop and have them inspected. Driving around with loose shifter cables can cause damage to your transmission since the grinding that occurs when you let go of the clutch pedal wears away at the gears. Replacing loose or broken shifter cables is a much easier and less expensive repair than building your entire transmission, so it's a good idea to have them fixed before you cause more serious damage to your vehicle.
For more information on transmission, contact a professional near you.