Transmission Shifting Hard From 1st To 2nd: Causes and How to Fix

Issues with your transmission system are not to be taken likely, including when struggling with your vehicle transmission shifting hard from 1st to 2nd gear. This difficulty can be attributed to many reasons that need to be given immediate attention, and if ignored, it will lead to dangerous effects you shouldn’t have to go through. While you continue reading, you will learn about the causes of this problem and how you can get them sorted out.

manual transmission shifting hard from 1st to 2nd

What Causes Transmission Shifting Hard From 1st To 2nd

Problems of gear shifting can cost a lot to repair in automatic and manual vehicles. Several factors can be responsible for this issue and can lead to your vehicle’s permanent breakdown. Even worse, it can cause the driver to have an accident while driving. So, you should get it fixed as soon as possible.

An excellent way to go about this is to determine the factors responsible for the delayed shift from 1st to 2nd gear. So, highlighted below are some of these factors you should know to help you avoid any dangerous effects.

For Automatic Vehicles

Low-Level Transmission Fluid

Low-level fluid in your transmission system is hazardous to your vehicle. This can result from failure to change or check transmission fluid for an extended period, or there might be a leak in your seals or gasket. Transmission fluid lasts for over a long period. So if you are noticing constant low-level fluid, it signifies that there is a leakage.

When the fluid level is low, the transmission system will not be well-lubricated, causing the gears and clutches’ rough movement.

Faulty Transmission Components

A fault in your transmission system is also a factor that can cause your transmission to shift hard from 1st to 2nd gear. Damage in the internal components, such as the shaft seal or gasket, can result in fluid leakage, which will cause a significant reduction in the transmission fluid level. Of course, there will be dangerous effects if your fluid level is deficient.

Wrong or Contaminated Fluid

Transmission shifting hard issues can occur due to the presence of impurities in the transmission fluid. This also goes for using the wrong fluid for your transmission system. If the fluid is not right or is contaminated, or changes the original color, you have to flush it out.

Damaged Sensors

With the advancement in technology, there is an increasing number of automatic vehicles available in the market. These automatic vehicles are designed with in-built sensors for various functions. The automatic gear is constructed with many sensors that help in changing gears. These sensors operate via signal interaction. Therefore, when there is an issue with your vehicle’s computer system, it can cause a gear transmission problem.

A damaged sensor will fail to send or receive signals, interrupting the transmission process. This fault can cause your vehicle to hinder the smooth operation of your transmission system.

Problem with Transmission Vacuum Moderator

The transmission vacuum moderator is a free pipe installed in your vehicle, and there are many of these vacuum hoses, which carry out different functions. The job of the vacuum moderator is to measure the amount of your engine’s workload. This function is carried out when your gear transmission puts a lot of pressure on your combustion cylinder’s throttling valve.

The pressure goes to the vacuum moderator and shifts your gear. The gears shift smoothly if you have the right pressure. If any of your vacuum hoses is damaged, it exerts the wrong pressure on the modulator, and this can be why shifting from 1st to 2nd gear is rough.

Faulty Shifter Cable

In most automatic vehicles, the manufacturers connect the shifter to the transmission by using a cable. They designed the cable to make the indicator needle well-aligned with the desired gear. When your transmission cable is faulty or completely damaged, the indicator needle will not align, and this will cause problematic gear transmission.

Adaptive Transmission

If your vehicle is designed with an adaptive transmission system. The system will shift your gears based on your manner of driving and the condition of the transmission fluid. The adaptive system will automatically change your gears if there is any abnormality in those conditions, making it challenging for you to shift gears.

Cold weather

Sometimes you might get to experience transmission shifting hard from 1st to 2nd when cold weather surfaces. The fluid will thicken due to a low environmental temperature and will not be able to flow correctly. But getting a high-quality synthetic fluid can save you from this problem.

For Manual Vehicles

Transmission Slipping

A slip in your manual transmission system will cause a high rpm or hesitation in acceleration. If this continues, it will eventually cause your transmission system to seize.

Faulty gears

A manual transmission gearbox can effectively function for up to six years. If the gears are damaged or worn out, then your transmission system will have problems with shifting.

Worn-out Clutch

The clutch functions by transmitting torque from your engine to the drivetrain. A warm-out clutch will hinder your vehicle’s smooth operation by making it difficult to shift the gears.

Low-level gear oil

Gear oil helps to lubricate the gears in your vehicle, allowing its easy operation. If there is no oil or a low-level oil due to leakages or failure to change the oil, it will make manual transmission shifting hard from 1st to 2nd or 3rd gear.

Damaged Synchronizer Ring

There are various teeth in your synchronizer ring that connects to the hub sleeve to engage the next gear. If there is any fault with your synchronizer ring, it will cause an uneven motion and lead to poor gear shifting.

Damaged Gear hub sleeve

The gear hub links the various gears, which shifts the gears to another. The sleeve ensures that the teeth of the gear hub move uniformly with your synchronizer. When you have a worn-out sleeve, it will generate issues when changing your gears.

is hard shifting bad for a transmission

How To Fix Transmission Shifting Hard

A common cause of transmission shifting issues, like when your car jerks when shifting from 1st to 2nd is when there is an issue with your transmission fluid. For instance, when you have a low fluid level due to leakages or untimely fluid change.

In situations where your fluid is contaminated or there is a wrong fluid in the system, you will have to flush your system to get the system back on track. Here’s how to fix hard-shifting automatic transmission or manual transmission problems by flushing:

Step 1: Get your car bonnet lifted and disconnect the negative terminal of your battery. Always know you need to disconnect the battery’s negative terminal when handling a repair in the engine room.

Step 2: Slide under your vehicle to access your transmission fluid lines and take out the output line with the right screwdriver types. You can go through your vehicle’s repair guide to know the exact line to unplug, but if you can’t, you can also detach the two lines; one should release the transmission fluid.

Step 3: Open the transmission port of your vehicle and place a funnel in it. The funnel will help prevent waste as you pour the fluid into the system. So as the fluid comes out of the system, the same amount goes back in. Now we’ve gotten that settled. You can unplug your transmission line and place it into a bucket to curtail the fluid flow.

Step 4: For this next step, you should have an assistant start your engine as you pour the fluid into your system. When the engine is turned on, you will notice the rush of fluid from your system and, at the same time, ensure you continuously pour the recommended fluid types into the system. This will flush out the contaminated or wrong fluid from your system. After flushing for some time, you should get the right fluid back into your system.

When you have successfully flushed the system, you can now plug back the lines and fill the system to the right fluid level. Please ensure you do not overfill your transmission system. When you are all done, take your vehicle for a ride and carefully observe any adverse symptoms.

If you encounter any complicated issue, you should hire a mechanic’s services to help get your vehicle up and running.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

Q: Is Hard shifting bad for a transmission?

If you are having a hard time shifting your gear, it indicates that there is a fault with your transmission system, which you have to check out as soon as possible. Ignoring faults or factors that make transmission shifting hard from 2nd to 3rd or from 1st to 2nd like a faulty clutch, damaged shifter cable, transmission fluid problems, faulty sensors, damaged gear or synchronizer ring, etc. can cause a total shutdown of your vehicle, which will incur a high amount of repair cost.

So if you notice any difficulty in changing your gears, it shows that you need to inspect your vehicle’s transmission system.

Q: Can low oil cause hard shifting?

Low-level gear oil in your manual transmission system can cause a lot of trouble in your vehicle, including difficulty in shifting your gears. When there is a shortage in your gear oil level due to leakage, lack of servicing, or other factors, this condition can develop issues within your transmission system, affecting your system’s smooth operation.

This is because there is not enough lubrication of the gears, which will hinder their movement, making it difficult for you to change gears.

Q: Will a transmission flush fix hard shifting?

A transmission flush might not likely correct challenging shifting problems. Flushing your transmission system already indicates that your vehicle has started exhibiting some symptoms of a failing transmission. The first thing is to inspect your system for any faults. If you have been driving with a faulty transmission system for a long time, it will cause damage or several damages in the system. So you need to have that fix before flushing out your system.

But if you handle issues with your transmission system early enough before it affects any component or part, flushing your system will be able to do the trick but make sure you don’t flush with chemicals. Always flush with the recommended fluid.

Q: What happens if gear oil is not changed?

When you do not service your system or change your gear oil at the right time, it can burst into an accumulation of several issues with your transmission system. These include; sluggish engagement of your gear, hard shifting of gears, strange noises while in gear, overheating your transmission system, gear slipping problems, and other troubles with your transmission. It is best to keep track of the recommended period to change your fluid to avoid any issues with your transmission system or other engine parts.

Q: How do you go from 1st to 2nd gear smoothly?

Many modern vehicles are designed with automatic transmissions to quickly shift up and down through the various gears while driving. Shifting to first and second gear in a manual transmission is very easy but requires practice and accuracy. You have to prepare the shift to the second gear by bringing your engine to around 3000 to 3500 rpm, then press your clutch pedal all the way down, and step off your gas pedal.

With your clutch pressured down, move the gearshift to the second gear. The faster you do this, the smother you will shift your gear from 1st to 2nd.


Whenever you notice other troubles in transmission, not just transmission shifting hard from 1st to 2nd or between any gears, make sure you get your vehicle inspected by a mechanic for any faults and get the fault fixed as soon as possible. This will help protect your vehicle from other damages and save high repair costs. You can always get to us to help out with any other critical repairs.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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