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Old 12-18-2013, 09:33 PM   #1
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Transmission: difficult to get into second gear

I started to notice, i can't get the transmission into second gear until I have practically come to a complete stop.

I had had trouble getting into reverse before someone here told me to shift into first, then go into reverse because reverse isn't syncretized like the forward gears. That took care of that problem.

But now, I'm wondering if there is some quick fix to this, or is this normal? The way it feels is that my stick is coming up against something hard...it doesn't grind...it just stays up against something, and then finally falls into place when my speed gets low enough.

Any idea guys what could be going on? Thanks.

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Old 12-18-2013, 10:03 PM   #2
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Sounds like bad syncro course don't know what year/ tranny you have

Most gl5 is bad for syncros and wears them out

What year tj which tranny what fluid you using and what cor is the fluid you drain from tranny see any brass in it?

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Old 12-19-2013, 02:14 AM   #3
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If you have an ax15 tranny (up to year 2000) use redline mt90 fluid in your tranny, should smooth it out for ya. If not, double clutch into second till you can get a new or rebuilt tranny. I swapped a nv3550 tranny (2000 and up) into my 97 when my ax15 syncros went and 3rd gear was a pain.
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Old 12-19-2013, 08:25 AM   #4
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I think it's something much simpler. I think your shifter boot is getting your way. If you have the OEM rubber boot, the rubber gets harder in the winter due to lower ambient temps and provides more resistance in the drive and passenger corners toward the rear of vehicle (where 2nd and reverse are). I thought something was going on with my tranny too until I pulled the boot up so it sits loose around the shifter and there it was - buttery smooth easy shifts after that. I would I would give that a try before doing anything else and then read up here on how to permanently fix the problem (some options including buying a soft leather boot or removing the black plastic clip around the base of the stock boot to allow more play in the position of the boot). Good luck!
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:29 AM   #5
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If you have an ax15 tranny (up to year 2000) use redline mt90 fluid in your tranny, should smooth it out for ya. If not, double clutch into second till you can get a new or rebuilt tranny. I swapped a nv3550 tranny (2000 and up) into my 97 when my ax15 syncros went and 3rd gear was a pain.
I have the Nv3550 and it will grind in to 2nd when the jeeps cold.
I replaced the tranny oil with the MTL stuff about two months ago and I know it isn't the boot.
I have just learned to hold the clutch in longer than normal and ease it nice and easy.

Thank's for the tip though, I will have to try double clutching it until the engine temps warm up.
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:31 PM   #6
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I have the AX15 and 2nd does NOT like the cold. I have notices that if I shift from 1st to 2nd to 1st a few times before I take off, it goes a little easier.
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:50 PM   #7
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I will have to try that trick too.
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:21 PM   #8
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Another trick is to let the shifter "re-center" in-between 1st and 2nd.

IE: Your driving in first and it's time for second gear. Shift out of first but instead of going straight down into second leg go of the shifter, it will automatically re-center itself. Then try shifting into second. It works well for me and I have an AX15 (I think, its a '98).

I changed fluid to MT-90 and it didn't help but the method above did. I don't know if its a time thing (due to the delay of letting it re-center) or the actual action is what helps. Usually once it gets warmed up I can shift "normally"
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:45 PM   #9
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I would think it is more timing than anything... I usually have to 'wait' and the space between first and second would not be any mechanically different than being centered.
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Old 12-20-2013, 08:50 AM   #10
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I would think it is more timing than anything... I usually have to 'wait' and the space between first and second would not be any mechanically different than being centered.
Agreed that it's probably a timing thing, I just feel better about doing it that way because I'm not pressing the shifter right into the resistance. If I shift straight down I can get into gear by just pressing the shifter into the resistance and it will eventually go in, or I just recenter it and shift in more smoothly. For me its a mental thing, I feel like I'm potentially causing more damage the other way.
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Old 12-20-2013, 12:45 PM   #11
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Thanks for the feedback. I will check the rubber boot first. And then I will try different shifting techiques as some of you suggested. Seems to be a common problem. Mine is a 1999 4.0. I believe it is the X15 tranny.
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Old 12-20-2013, 01:35 PM   #12
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After a test drive

Well, I just got back from a test drive.

I should mention as background that about a month ago I changed the manual transmission fluid. I bought this 99 Wrangler a year ago, so I really don't know how long it was since it was changed. But boy did that oil stink. I put in 75W 90 synthetic Mobil one.

I tried removing the rubber boot. That made no difference. But I did notice two things. One, when she got warmed up, it did seem to shift sooner/better from coasting out of third into second. I didn't have to wait so long for it to pop in.

Secondly, and interestingly, I tried reving the engine a bit after coming out of fourth or third, and then it let me shift sooner into second. Does that give us any insights? If it were a worn clutch, this would effect all shifting wouldn't it?

In the end, it isn't that big of a deal. I'm just spoiled with the manual on my Chevy cruze eco which never gives me any resistance.

Thanks...
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:28 PM   #13
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It's your Synchro's, when you raised the rpm level it shifted right it, you matched the rpm with the shift point of the tranny, essentially not needing to even use the clutch. That's how a lot of the old trucks had to be driven, that's why most people couldn't drive big rigs or dump trucks. Synchro's are a luxury. You will have to double clutch to prevent the hang up or watch your tach and see where it shifts in smooth and only shift at that exact rpm for that gear.

That's how my ax 15 was in 3rd, I bought a tranny out of a rusted out TJ and swapped it in mine.
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:36 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by K.wag View Post
I have the Nv3550 and it will grind in to 2nd when the jeeps cold.
I replaced the tranny oil with the MTL stuff about two months ago and I know it isn't the boot.
I have just learned to hold the clutch in longer than normal and ease it nice and easy.

Thank's for the tip though, I will have to try double clutching it until the engine temps warm up.

+1 On double clutching, and shifting into 1 before going into Reverse.
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:40 PM   #15
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It's your Synchro's, when you raised the rpm level it shifted right it, you matched the rpm with the shift point of the tranny, essentially not needing to even use the clutch. That's how a lot of the old trucks had to be driven, that's why most people couldn't drive big rigs or dump trucks. Synchro's are a luxury. You will have to double clutch to prevent the hang up or watch your tach and see where it shifts in smooth and only shift at that exact rpm for that gear.

That's how my ax 15 was in 3rd, I bought a tranny out of a rusted out TJ and swapped it in mine.
Okay. That sounds about right. Why does this happen? Just curious. Is it wear and tear? I've read these transmissions are bullet proof.
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Old 12-20-2013, 02:55 PM   #16
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Synchro's can wear out over time, not typically if the fluid is maintained. My jeep was driven through water by the previous owner and the fluid turned to milk... A fluid water mix... The PO drove it like that for god knows how long... Causing some wear. Google double clutch, there's some good info about the reasoning and history of clutching.
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:41 PM   #17
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Highly recommend giving that a watch. Manual transmissions are pure f-ing magic to most people until they watch that once or twice. Might help with your problem. But the AX15 is NOTORIOUS for being difficult to shift into second until it's warmed up. Double clutching helps, but a lot of people just get higher than normal revs in first and go to 3rd... It's a well known problem on the forum. Jeep probably knew about it to, hence the switch to the nv3550
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:48 PM   #18
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Invictus,

But my x15 shifts well enough from first into second, but is difficult to shift fourth to second or third to second without double clutching. I just think my syncro is worn. Wonder what the cost is to rebuild a manual transmission like this?
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Old 12-21-2013, 07:25 PM   #19
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Brand new ax15 is pretty cheep like 1500 for latest and greatest brand new

If you pull tranny and do rebuild yourself syncros are pretty cheep and you learn and know it was done right

If you just take it to someone to pull tranny rebuild and reinstall the labor gets pretty expensive plus it is usually a good idea to at least consider a new clutch while tranny is off
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Old 12-22-2013, 10:04 AM   #20
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Invictus,

But my x15 shifts well enough from first into second, but is difficult to shift fourth to second or third to second without double clutching. I just think my syncro is worn. Wonder what the cost is to rebuild a manual transmission like this?
That still makes sense for it to be a synchro. I believe it has to do with shifting from (numerically) higher ratios to lower.

AX-5 v AX-15 v NV3550 v NSG370: gear ratio comparison
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:02 PM   #21
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I just had mine rebuilt and does the same thing as yours. I can down shift with no problem it just does it when going from first to second. I took the body lift off and that helped but didn't completely cure it. Glad I read all this I was about to call my mechanic and have a word or two with him, but I guess it's just the way the ax15 is.
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Old 12-22-2013, 09:16 PM   #22
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My 98 sport shifts up or down just fine with the ax15 5 spd
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Old 12-23-2013, 05:52 AM   #23
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My 98 sport shifts up or down just fine with the ax15 5 spd
Sounds like you're one of the lucky few ! Congrats ! What fluid do you run in yours, just for the OPs benefit ? And what rpms do you shift at ? Any double clutching or other tricks ?
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Old 12-23-2013, 06:59 AM   #24
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My 04 shifts like butter, owned it since new, but I always shift it nice and easy so the syncros do not get stressed and wear. I shift from 1st to 2nd around 15 mph, 2nd to 3rd around 25 mph, 3rd to 4th around 35 mph, 4th to 5th around 45mph. On hills or merging on the interstate I will push it a little higher but still never speed shift it. The transmissions in TJ's are more truck like not sports car like and cannot tolerate being driving like a sports car.
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Old 12-23-2013, 09:11 AM   #25
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My first car was a well used late 50s TR3 that tranny had no syncro in 1st by design so you went to 2nd before 1st

In all my years from sports cars to muscle cars like a close ratio 4 sp 428 cj 69 stang to old Willis wagons to scouts to jeeps I never had syncro probs probably because I never abused them

One of three junk yard swaps I did auto to 5 SPd on 300 zx cars had a Grindy shift 1 to 2nd probably second to abuse by prior owner but by using proper fluid and reasonable shifts it improved greatly over a couple months not ever quite up to the quick 1 2 drag race style but it stopped grinding as long as you did normal shifts feeling the resistance and not trying to force it shifts were without pause jut not slams and grind went away

I had a buddy who was an expert at busting manuals but I never abused one and they never had probs ( clutches and throw out bearings can wear out with normal use as do most auto trannies but a properly used manual has never been as issue for me

I always just used recommended fluids none of the fancy crap will make up for non abuse

Had a 460 crew f350 5spd and it lasted fine till I sold it with 160 k despite use with full size camper and towing loaded stock trailer did a clutch once but again properly treated manuals don't wear out

Still don't trust that 6 speed they put in 05 06 so since I am a manual tranny guy Lj will never be for me
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:22 PM   #26
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My 04 shifts like butter, owned it since new, but I always shift it nice and easy so the syncros do not get stressed and wear. I shift from 1st to 2nd around 15 mph, 2nd to 3rd around 25 mph, 3rd to 4th around 35 mph, 4th to 5th around 45mph. On hills or merging on the interstate I will push it a little higher but still never speed shift it. The transmissions in TJ's are more truck like not sports car like and cannot tolerate being driving like a sports car.
04 should have an NSG370 in it. AX15s were until 2002

But I treat mine real nice too. If you are nice to it, it almost seems to suck the shifter into gear. I never force it.
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Old 12-24-2013, 01:50 AM   #27
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04 should have an NSG370 in it. AX15s were until 2002

But I treat mine real nice too. If you are nice to it, it almost seems to suck the shifter into gear. I never force it.
Nope the NSG 370 is the 6spd. 05 - 06. He most likely has the nv3550. Unless its the 4cyl then it's the nv1500
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Old 12-24-2013, 02:12 AM   #28
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Make sure your not leaking trans fluid. If you put fluid in don't use GL5 if you have brass syncros. Use Redline or Pennzoil syncromesh. Syncromesh shifted like butter in mine.
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Old 12-24-2013, 08:35 AM   #29
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I put in 75W 90 synthetic Mobil one.
That is the wrong lubricant to use in a manual transmission.

Mobil-1 75W-90 has sulfur-based additives which give it its GL-5 rating which also make it unsafe, long-term, for the transmission's gear synchronizers. And it's probably actually Mobile-1's LS 75W-90 which means it also contains more sulfur-based additives for its friction modifier additive needed for limited slip differentials. That can affect the operation of the gear synchronizers in a transmission. That's really not the right stuff for a transmission, it's really meant primarily for use in an axle. http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/..._75W-90LS.aspx

And technically, the spec for the AX-5 and AX-15 transmissions is a 75W-90 GL-4, not a GL-5 like some of the early manuals incorrectly included. The use of a GL-5 won't cause immediate damage, its negative effects on the synchronizers are long-term. Jeep later "quietly" corrected the spec from a GL-5 to a GL-4 75W-90.

You'd be better off with a GL-4 75W-90 gear lube like MT-90 from Redline, or a synthetic 10W-30 motor oil which is roughly equivalent to 75W-90 gear lube. The manufacturer of your AX-15 transmission added synthetic 10W-30 motor oil as a suitable approved lubricant.

There are a few GL-5 75W-90 lubricants like the Royal Purple Synchromax that do not use sulfur based additives which are safe for use in your transmission. But the back label has to includes words to the effect "Safe for yellow metals"... with "yellow metals" meaning metals like brass which is what the AX-15's gear synchronizers are made from.
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Old 12-24-2013, 11:07 AM   #30
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That is the wrong lubricant to use in a manual transmission. Mobil-1 75W-90 has sulfur-based additives which give it its GL-5 rating which also make it unsafe, long-term, for the transmission's gear synchronizers. And it's probably actually Mobile-1's LS 75W-90 which means it also contains more sulfur-based additives for its friction modifier additive needed for limited slip differentials. That can affect the operation of the gear synchronizers in a transmission. That's really not the right stuff for a transmission, it's really meant primarily for use in an axle. http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/..._75W-90LS.aspx And technically, the spec for the AX-5 and AX-15 transmissions is a 75W-90 GL-4, not a GL-5 like some of the early manuals incorrectly included. The use of a GL-5 won't cause immediate damage, its negative effects on the synchronizers are long-term. Jeep later "quietly" corrected the spec from a GL-5 to a GL-4 75W-90. You'd be better off with a GL-4 75W-90 gear lube like MT-90 from Redline, or a synthetic 10W-30 motor oil which is roughly equivalent to 75W-90 gear lube. The manufacturer of your AX-15 transmission added synthetic 10W-30 motor oil as a suitable approved lubricant. There are a few GL-5 75W-90 lubricants like the Royal Purple Synchromax that do not use sulfur based additives which are safe for use in your transmission. But the back label has to includes words to the effect "Safe for yellow metals"... with "yellow metals" meaning metals like brass which is what the AX-15's gear synchronizers are made from.
What about in the NV3550? I'm guessing that should be a GL-4 as well?

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