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Old 03-14-2008, 11:56 AM   #1
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Hard shifting transmission - final solution needed

I have a 1993, x-cab, 3.0L V6, 5sp, 4WD, 129k miles, pickup. When purchased almost two years ago it was obvious that it needed some kind of transmission or clutch work, but other than that it was in great shape. History on the truck is easy to track. The original owner is the service manager for a Toyota dealership in Portland, OR. He sold it to his bro-in-law in AK about 8 years ago. It drove the ALCAN three times in the 6 years before I bought it. I have had it since 121k miles. For 6 years in OR the truck was used 5 to 7 times a year to pull a 4 place ATV trailer a couple hundred miles over to the coast to play in the sand dunes.

Prior to buying this truck I test drove two other trucks of the same vintage and they both shifted like race cars. Smooth and tight with no sloppiness. They just happended to be rust buckets and needed major body work. One had over 260k miles and used oil like it was free. Neither of these trucks were worth the AK 4WD premium price being asked for them. AND my truck came with a canopy, aftermarket Al rims, a welded tube steel lumber rack, and Finnish winter ice tires for the same price as the rust buckets with twice the milage.

My truck shifted hard and sometimes a little too much force was needed to push into 2 or 3. Double clutching to get into 1 when stopped. Once in a while some grinding when I didn't push the clutch that last 1/2 inch to the floor.

I used this forum to discover the many little things to do to fix hard shifting manual toyotas.

I looked at the clutch mounting bracket and found no crack or repairs in it. I need to look at that again this weekend, but so far my symptoms don't completely match the symptoms reported for this problem.

I looked at the master cylinder and the slave and they were working properly, and the fluid was good.

The first fix three months into owning the truck was the Marlin Crawler shifter seat and shifter end bushing. That tightened up the shifting. Actually the shifting was almost too tight after this and it took about 6 months to "break in" the bushings so that it didn't feel like I was shoveling mud rather than shifting gears. After the break in time the clunkiness between 1-2-3 and sometimes 4 was still there. No issues going into R or 5. Down shifting did not present any issues. The clutch was still goofy.

Nine months into owning the truck I had the clutch replaced by the best non-dealer shop in town. That helped out a lot but the clunkiness between 1-2-3 and sometimes 4 was still there. No issues going into R or 5. The mechanic said that it was the original clutch. The shop used OEM parts and surfaced the flywheel since it had some minor heat cracks, but was still within spec after surfacing. They replaced the main seal, throw out bearing, and the pilot bearing. They bled the master and slave a little and adjusted the clutch pedal.

After the clutch replacement the clunkiness between shifts was still there. I started experimenting with rpm shifting. If shifted around 2000rpm the shifting was not too bad, but I was not going anywhere quickly "granny" shifting. If I wait until 2400 rpm or more it becomes harder to shift. It still goes into gear with no grinding. It goes into 4 and 5 and R with no issues at this point. Down shifting is fine.

Next I went shopping for GL-4 spec gear oil. Not available on any shelf in town so I ordered Redline MT-90 off the intertubes. I replaced both the tranny oil and the Xfer oil with MT-90. While under there I looked at the bolts and how the tranny mounted to the engine and everything was tight and flush.

One question here though: what is the factory sealant used between the transmission, the coupler, and the Xfer case? Mine is an orange RTV looking material. It sort of looks like the Xfer case was replaced at some time. Just wondering. After you get back from the engine oil smutz the tranny and Xfer case are pretty clean for being 15 years old, but the coupler and the Xfer case are cleaner than the tranny.

After the MT-90 I noticed that the shifting was now not as "thick" or muddy feeling, but I can now feel each "clunk" when shifting. When it gets below freezing the shifting is much slicker feeling, but the clunkiness is still there, just not as noticable. By feeling each clunk I mean that I can tell that there are at least three or four moving parts functioning between each shift. No grinding in any shift and the shifts are not as hard as they used to be when pushing in to gear. I would say that down shifting is normal.

I have done the rpm shifting experiment again and find that shifting at 2000rpm is the smoothest with only a minor amount of clunkiness. Shifting at 2400rpm is hard with lots of clunkiness but still works. No grinding. The clunkiness is not noticable with down shifting.

The Xfer case shifting has always been great before and after the switch to MT-90.

BTW back in the spring of 1994 my then room mate bought a new 1993 truck and the few times I drove it I hated the shifting. It was stiff and clunky feeling, but being a brand new truck I wrote it off to that. The clutch was so stiff it would engage with no play at all. I had to learn how to drive a manual each time I got behind the wheel. Nothing I have ever driven from semi tractor down to go kart, clutched or shifted as bad as that brand new Toyota. Now 14 years later I have a similar truck that shifts only slightly worse than that brand new one did. That is the only new Toyota I have ever driven so my data set is not very reliable.

For my problem I am assuming that the shift rods are bent, but maybe it is the linkage between the shifter and the shift rods since the clunkiness is exactly the same between 1-2-3 and sometimes 4. No issues with 5 or R. There is no grinding or noise or popping out of gear and there is very little issue with down shifting. I am looking for a second opinion on this?

OR is this normal? I am still thinking about those two prior trucks I test drove and how incredible they shifted. Perfection. Then compare that perfection to my one experience with a brand new truck and finding my current condition only slighty worse than that. At 129k miles my truck should be broken in by now and shifting well.

Based on the several searches I have done on this forum to figure out the various problems it appears that I can drive this R105 transmission until it explodes (if ever it does) no matter what the issues are. So, if I can learn to just accept the clunkiness of 1-2-3 and sometimes 4 it will last the next decade or more now that I have fixed all the little maintence issues typical of these transmissions.
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Old 03-14-2008, 12:46 PM   #2
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I think these guys could help you:

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As for your trans, no idea. But BTT!!
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Old 03-14-2008, 01:21 PM   #3
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Are you sure zat is za "clunk" and nots za "klink"?!
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Old 03-14-2008, 01:35 PM   #4
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Not an expert here, but I'll throw out what comes to mind.

First, my '85 22re does shift precisely with a fairly short throw. My '94 3VZE shifts smoothly, but is sloppy relative to the '85. I just put that down to a longer linkage, as the 22re is a direct and short link.

So the question is... does the shift linkage bind, or is there problem in the transmission itself (or are there two problems.. maybe one developing as a result of the other).

Also, how does it feel with the engine off... meaning the ease with which you can shift from gear to gear? Any different?

The double-clutching makes me think the synchromesh is not working correctly.

You sure you have the right oil, and its actually in there?

Last thought is why not bite the bullet and take it to a good dealer for at least an evaluation? It might cost you $75 bucks, but they may recognize the problem instantly. I have at least one dealer in the San Jose area that I'd trust in that regard.
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Old 03-14-2008, 01:59 PM   #5
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Are you sure zat is za "clunk" and nots za "klink"?!
"I know nuzzing."

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Old 03-14-2008, 02:45 PM   #6
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As for your trans, no idea. But BTT!!
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:45 PM   #7
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Are you sure zat is za "clunk" and nots za "klink"?!
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:46 PM   #8
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Old 03-14-2008, 02:47 PM   #9
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Also, how does it feel with the engine off... meaning the ease with which you can shift from gear to gear? Any different?


The double-clutching makes me think the synchromesh is not working correctly.


You sure you have the right oil, and its actually in there?


Last thought is why not bite the bullet and take it to a good dealer for at least an evaluation? It might cost you $75 bucks, but they may recognize the problem instantly. I have at least one dealer in the San Jose area that I'd trust in that regard.

I have only shifted with the engine off a couple of times and it shifts quite well with the clutch in or out - very little clunkiness. When engine running but not moving, with the clutch in and moving through the gears it is a bit clunky when going into each gear, but once I hit the forward gears and essentually line up all the parts if shifts very well - only a minor amount of clunkiness. So it is only when it is under power and moving that I am having problems it appears.

The double-clutching was needed often in the beginning before I started doing the minor fixes. After the new clutch it went to maybe once a month. After the MT-90 lube change I have not had double it up to get into first. So the double-clutching is no longer an issue.


The specification from the FSM is 75W-90 in GL-4 or GL-5. MT-90 is an API specified GL-4, 75W-90 gear oil, so it is the right oil. When I went to change the lube a month ago I did find that the level of older Pennzoil 75W-90 GL-5 was about 1/2 inch low. After replacing that with the MT-90 I checked to make sure that the level was up to the bottom of the fill port. I will check the level again this weekend when I am replacing the original steering damper.


There is only one Toyota dealer in my area of Alaska. When I took the truck in for the recall for steering parts I asked about the horrendous noise the front end made when it was cold. It goes away after being driven a few miles.
The service manager said that the noise is a very common probelm with these older trucks and that there is no known fix for it.
After five minutes of searching on this site I discovered the FSM and read where it states that the front spindles need to be lubed whenever you are performing maintenance on the front wheels. The FACTORY service manual said there is a cure, but the dealership management said there is not. Would you trust him? If that guy had followed the FSM he could have made an easy grand due to my ignorance.

I also found a thread on how to make a tool for lubricating the spindle bushings without having to take the whole assembly a part like it says to do in the FSM. In that thread for making the tool the poster stated that this is a well known cold weather problem and is typically delt with at dealers by replacing the bushings with bearings after complete disassembly.

So you want me to take my truck into a group of people that have proven to me to be idiots? I would rather ask about solutions here before I waste my time with the Lexus mouth droolers at the stealership.

The mechanic at the shop that did the clutch said that it should wear in quickly and shift well soon. The clutch is working extremely well in taking away power from the engine and bringing it back. It is just when going in to a gear that has me puzzled.

All the syncro related issues identified in several posts here point to popping out of gear while moving and not going back into gear with out grinding. I don't have either of those problems.
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Old 03-14-2008, 04:41 PM   #10
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I have only shifted with the engine off a couple of times and it shifts quite well with the clutch in or out - very little clunkiness. When engine running but not moving, with the clutch in and moving through the gears it is a bit clunky when going into each gear, but once I hit the forward gears and essentually line up all the parts if shifts very well - only a minor amount of clunkiness. So it is only when it is under power and moving that I am having problems it appears.

The double-clutching was needed often in the beginning before I started doing the minor fixes. After the new clutch it went to maybe once a month. After the MT-90 lube change I have not had double it up to get into first. So the double-clutching is no longer an issue.


The specification from the FSM is 75W-90 in GL-4 or GL-5. MT-90 is an API specified GL-4, 75W-90 gear oil, so it is the right oil. When I went to change the lube a month ago I did find that the level of older Pennzoil 75W-90 GL-5 was about 1/2 inch low. After replacing that with the MT-90 I checked to make sure that the level was up to the bottom of the fill port. I will check the level again this weekend when I am replacing the original steering damper.


There is only one Toyota dealer in my area of Alaska. When I took the truck in for the recall for steering parts I asked about the horrendous noise the front end made when it was cold. It goes away after being driven a few miles.
The service manager said that the noise is a very common probelm with these older trucks and that there is no known fix for it.
After five minutes of searching on this site I discovered the FSM and read where it states that the front spindles need to be lubed whenever you are performing maintenance on the front wheels. The FACTORY service manual said there is a cure, but the dealership management said there is not. Would you trust him? If that guy had followed the FSM he could have made an easy grand due to my ignorance.

I also found a thread on how to make a tool for lubricating the spindle bushings without having to take the whole assembly a part like it says to do in the FSM. In that thread for making the tool the poster stated that this is a well known cold weather problem and is typically delt with at dealers by replacing the bushings with bearings after complete disassembly.

So you want me to take my truck into a group of people that have proven to me to be idiots? I would rather ask about solutions here before I waste my time with the Lexus mouth droolers at the stealership.

The mechanic at the shop that did the clutch said that it should wear in quickly and shift well soon. The clutch is working extremely well in taking away power from the engine and bringing it back. It is just when going in to a gear that has me puzzled.

All the syncro related issues identified in several posts here point to popping out of gear while moving and not going back into gear with out grinding. I don't have either of those problems.

The purpose of the synchro is to match gear speeds so they can be engaged smoothly (that is why double-clutching works as you match speeds in this fashion, if you have no synchro).

If you don't have a good dealer, you don't have a good dealer... too bad.

Could the transmission have been exposed to low levels of fluid.. sounds like it was not damaged significicantly, but maybe has a veneer of rust or whatever. Given the improvement with the fluids etc... maybe what your are doing will continue to bring it back.

Maybe a flush of somesort and a refill. Anyway, good luck.
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Old 03-14-2008, 05:13 PM   #11
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Most shifting problems are actually clutch problems. Most clutch problems are actually linkage problems.

It sounds to me like your clutch is not releasing properly, causing the synchros to work too hard. The clue was:

"shifts fine with the engine off"

A sticky clutch can simply be a clutch that isn't being pushed far enough. Raising the pedal can help. Replacing hydraulics can also help. It's easy to tell if this is the problem, you simply note where the clutch begins to engage when you let the pedal up in 1st. Is the clutch point near the floor? Or is it at least an inch or two up from the floor?


The other causes of sticky clutches are seized pilot bearings (the small bearing in the center of the flywheel) and sticky input shaft splines. Also a bent or damaged disc can be sticky as well. These items of course will require removal of the transmission. While the trans is out, replace the whole clutch assembly with new parts.

The final thing about shifting problems can be worn synchros. A sticky clutch can definately kill a transmission, so if it's driven around for a long time in this condition, you may well need a trans overhaul or replacement.

HTH, YMMV, etc.
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Old 03-14-2008, 05:53 PM   #12
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I support the theories proposed by 86tuning. You have a clutch release problem or input shaft spline issue.

When a clutch is replaced, the following must be done. Slide the new clutch disk along the transmission input shaft to make sure it moves smooth. If not, get a stone and make it smooth. The disk must also be flat with no run-out or it will drag when the pedal is pushed to release it. Ditto about new input shaft flywheel bearing and its fit to the input shaft. Hopefully a ball bearing was installed with the new clutch and not damaged by a goober installer. Also, hopefully, a new input seal was installed on the transmission. I always put a film of wheel-bearing grease on the input shaft to make the clutch disk move freely.

I think you need to have the transmission dropped and have the above items inspected. I think they will find the problem in the clutch area or the master cylinder not doing its job to the slave cylinder which may not be doing its job either. Its not in the transmission. My bet is on the clutch disk binding on the shaft or out of round because they let the transmission hang on it during installation.

My $0.02

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Old 03-14-2008, 06:21 PM   #13
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Hmmm.... last two posts should give you some ideas.

Also, it may be the temperature extremes in Alaska that set off the problems with a sticking clutch... and maybe produced stress on the synchro over time.

Anyway... I'm out of my depth here.... good luck (again).
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Old 03-14-2008, 07:49 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the input guys.

I am going to have to revise my previous statements about the shifting while not running. Since I had never played with this before I was not really thinking about it when right those statements.

On the way home today I experimented a little and paid attention this time.

Engine OFF and clutch OUT - shifted rough as all get out and would not stay lined up after two trips up and down through the gears. Did not want to go into first much at all. I had to push it into 2 to get it lined up to go into 1 if it would go at all. I would think that this is "typical" with the clutch not being in.

Engine OFF and clutch IN - shifted with quite a bit of clunkiness between gears, but went into all the gears OK. Not silky smooth perfection, but about 75% reduction in clunkiness than when moving.

Engine ON and clutch IN and not MOVING - shifted really well between all the gears. Again about 75% reduction in clunkiness than when moving.

Driving it home - normal large variation between shifting at 2000 rpm than at or over 2400 rpm. Clunkiness up to it normal bothersome amount.

However, this time at all the stops on the way home I did spin down testing. Absolutely perfect down shifting as I come to a stop.

Having the work done on the clutch last July by the best foreign auto shop in the town I would hesitate to say that they messed it up by not doing the little things mentioned about. Of the twenty or so Toyota owners that I know that have taken their rigs there for work I have never heard of a mistake being made. These guys are better than the dealer from all I have heard. They do more 2nd Gen clutches than the dealer does. I also don't want to spend another $900 just to check the tranny and have the 9 month old clutch done again.

Any more thoughts?
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:05 PM   #15
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In lieu of actually dropping the tranny and/or clutch, the only other things to be inspecting would be clutch pedal height, release point, and all that jazz. Other than that, there are only so many parts to this. If you rule out everything that doesn't require removal of the tranny, what do you think is going to happen next?
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Old 03-14-2008, 10:05 PM   #16
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If you rule out everything that doesn't require removal of the tranny, what do you think is going to happen next?
A YotaTech miracle is what I am hoping for. One of those little gems of "did you inspect the dorflemacher lever" or "flip the googly watchet" to the left.

I pretty much knew from the beginning of the post that my options were slim for finding a simple problem. Even though several hours of searching various word combinations had turned up all the ususal answers (except for a concise list of clues for when your syncros are shot that one is still not well defined on hundreds of posts) I had hoped that someone could take it a step further and say its this or that. Well this or that besides the clutch being bad. I just can't consider that right now.

Maybe the clutch pedal was adjusted too far out last July. I'll adjust it according to the FSM and see what happens. It seems to be engaging and disengaging just fine about 2 inches off the floor. Nice and crisp with no flutters or hesitations.

As to the master and slave being goofy, I don't think so. I had a D50 years ago and ended up with way too much experience on how to tell if the master or slave are bad. That was a character building weekend.

One last question would be if everything outside the tranny is OK, how long will a well maintained tranny with bent shift rods and slightly messed up syncos last? Ten years would be nice.
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Old 03-18-2008, 01:21 PM   #17
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Beating a Dead Horse

wack wack wack.....

After reviewing the FSM clutch adjustment section I found that nearly all the clutch pedal measurements were in the right range or tolerence. The pedal height and the clutch release point distances from the floor were right on the money.

The only one that was not "normal" was the "push rod play at pedal top". The range is listed as 1mm to 5mm. Mine was about 10mm before you could start feeling anything that I would call resistance.

It was hard to determine the difference between "push rod play at pedal top" and "pedal freeplay" which is 5mm to 15mm of travel. They are both adjusted the same using the push rod. The pedal freeplay was a little more than 15mm.

I need to make the adjustment for both push rod play and pedal freeplay to take out 10mm to up to 15mm of travel. I am concerned that there is not that much thread on the push rod end. Currently there is about 5mm of threads showing on rod behind the lock nut. How much more thread is there? I could not get my fat head up under the dash enough to see the entire pedal mount system.

Has anyone found that when there is this much adjustment needed that it indicates a completely worn clutch master cylinder?
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Old 03-18-2008, 05:15 PM   #18
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I've never run into that problem before, personally. I've always had the MC's leaking all into the floorboard kindly letting me know they're bad.

IIRC, the push rod also screws into the MC....which would mean it will also screw out giving you more thread. I may be wrong. Give a shot. It's easier than dropping the tranny....
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:17 AM   #19
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Shift Lever Bushing?

This is not very timely, but.....have you checked the Shift Lever Bushing that the shift lever sits on down inside the shifter housing?
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:01 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by UglyButItRuns View Post
This is not very timely, but.....have you checked the Shift Lever Bushing that the shift lever sits on down inside the shifter housing?
when bringing a thread back from the dead it is customary to read the OP

The first fix three months into owning the truck was the Marlin Crawler shifter seat and shifter end bushing. That tightened up the shifting.
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:01 AM
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2003, 4x4, bearing, break, bucks, grinding, hard, honda, pu, r150f, rear, rincon, shifting, shifts, throw, toyota, transmission

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