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2002 Corolla New Clutch, Shifting Into Reverse Issues

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My 2002 Corolla's clutch was replaced today with the SACHS brand and when I attempt to shift into reverse, there is a grinding sound unless I push the shifter all the way (hard) to the right, then pull down.

Pushing the clutch pedal down for three seconds, shifter all the way to the right, just above where you pull down to engage reverse, helps a bit.

Is this normal behavior for a new clutch? Before the clutch was replaced, it wasn't really that difficult shifting into reverse. Just keep clutch pedal pushed in for a few seconds, just above reverse gear, then go into reverse. It was never this difficult.

Also, are gears engineered to be strong enough to sustain "expected" grinding from time to time?

Gears will take the punishment - more a function of quality of the oil.

As for the grinding noise when going back in reverse - something is wrong. Not something that should "wear" in. Could be as simple as air in the slave cylinder or master clutch cylinder. Reverse does tend to grind before any other gear - but if it wasn't grinding before, this usually means an install issue.

Check to see if any bolts are missing, brackets not attached, etc. Did the mechanic try to adjust the clutch free play? Might be too loose - clutch is dragging a bit. Easy test - on level ground, clutch fully in, transaxle in any gear, rev the engine - it should not move at all. If it does, the clutch is dragging.

Try shifting into 1st, roll forward a bit, then into reverse - see if this changes anything. If it stops the grinding, possible that the shifter cables got bumped or are not fully moving to the gate positions - would explain why you have to jam the shifter to get it into the gate. This can be adjusted at the shifter cable bracket. Clutch pedal if adjusted and cannot lift the clutch away, can be fixed with an extended pushrod, this will help provide a little extra leverage to pull the disc away from the flywheel - this is pretty common on the 9th gen, as most don't see any issues until they get an aftermarket clutch and flywheel.


Mechanic stated it would need some "adjusting", but he did not elaborate on what adjusting is needed. I returned the Corolla to the mechanic a few minutes ago. I'll pick it up later and update you. Good to hear about the gear!

Yeah, they have to make it tough enough for first time drivers. Granted, it was not designed for constant grinding - eventually it will chip the teeth, clogged the transaxle case with metal shavings - but that is what the oil is for. Even in cases where you find grinding in every gear - just with a fluid change, it can diminish the grinding quite a bit. You have to try and kill the 5-speed transaxle on these cars. Automatics - that's a different story. Worse on the newer Toyotas, since the oil is much thinner than it used to be, in an effort to reduce friction - they traded durability.


When I changed the gear oil a couple months ago, I found just a couple very small shavings on the drain plug (I think it has a magnet on the end). Oil wasn't bad. Since then, that oil has been drained and now I have your favorite Redline.

I also noticed shifting into all gears feels "sticky", hard to explain, but shifting from third to fourth feels like it did before the clutch was replaced. I should get a call on picking it up by 5:00.

Other than that, the serpentine belt was replaced with a Goodyear Gatorback. Old belt was the worst I've ever seen. Raybestos ceramic pads on front. New rotors. Passenger side inner and outer tie-rod ends. Everything else is in great shape with no tears in grease boots.


Got the car back. Just had some residual air in the system after he let it gravity bleed yesterday. I bled the system two months ago with no issues. The air bled itself out and now shifting is fine again. Struts will be the only thing (for now) to be replaced in a year.

Great news!


Arrived home last night and noticed a large amount of leaked gear oil on the driveway that occurred before I left. I looked under the car and the gear oil is dripping every five seconds. Overnight, there was a medium-sized puddle. Called a wrecker and it has been towed back to the original mechanic. He stated today he ordered two more quarts of Redline and he will start work on the car first thing in the morning. I'll keep you posted.


Axle shaft seal was leaking and has been replaced

That sucks. Did he replace them when he replaced the clutch?

Depending on how he supported the axles when he pulled the transaxle off to replace the clutch - could have pushed those seals over the edge.


I asked him when he was writing up the estimate if he was including new seals into the price, and he stated he "was sure" he could re-use the old ones. Common practice for me is to always replace the seals when shafts are removed as assurance. He is giving me the Redline he ordered at no charge.

Is it true that reverse is the hardest gear to shift into, and you should let the synchros "slow down" for three seconds before shifting into reverse? In my last car, a friend told me to wait three seconds as the shifter was hovering over reverse before putting it into gear to ensure smoother engagement, and it worked.

Given the miles - I would have replaced them as well. Sure, you "could" reuse them - but he should know better - seals don't last forever. He will have ready access to them anyways - might as well write up the estimate to include the seals.

True, reverse is the hardest gear to shift into. Some newer transmissions have a mechanical lockout to help the syncros catch. I do the same thing - I try to shift deliberately when going into reverse - hover in the gate before I shift. Sometimes I initially shift in to 1st, then back into reverse - depending on the car. Doesn't matter how long you've been driving stick - everyone has ground a gear at one point in time.


He already did the job replacing the seals, and did so at no charge (which is fair, given he should have known better). No more leaks.

Perhaps it's true that shifting into reverse in different makes and models. My Geo Metro was much easier shifting into any gear, except for second when the synchro was going out.

I'll go with what you're stating. Last night, I hovered over the gear for three seconds, then gently moved shifting into it. It was fine.


In regard to the Redline, here in Michigan we've had a few nights where temps have dipped into the twenties. The Redline is great in these colder temperatures thus far. When I had conventional Valvoline 85-90 in my Geo Metro, shifting in cold was like molasses. Even the Pennzoil Syncrhomesh wasn't as good as the Redline that's in the Corolla. Impressed.


Update on Redline MT-90: Shifts beautifully in colder temperatures, right down to 13 degrees.