Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Gears grinding at low RPMs.

asked by on

When in first or second gear it sounds like the transmission is grinding. This only happens at low RPMs.

A: I am going to go ahead and move forward wit...

I am going to go ahead and move forward with the assumption that your Honda Civic is equipped with a manual transmission. I have owned Honda’s most my life and I have encountered this problem with the sound of transmission grinding myself more than once. As an experienced mechanic, test driving the vehicle would allow me to pinpoint the exact issue within a few minutes. However I am going to do my best to attempt to guide you in the right direction so you may at least have some idea of what is happening to your Civic.

The first culprit you will want to suspect for this grinding is a worn out clutch. The clutch and transmission get a lot of abuse, especially in densely populated areas of stop and go traffic. The clutch disc is a wear item, just like brake pads and spark plugs and like these parts, needs to be replaced. The clutch cannot be inspected without the removal of the entire transmission, so gathering as many facts as possible can help with accurate diagnosis. With your Honda being 15 years old, it would be important to know the mileage of the car and if the current clutch is original or has been replaced previously.

The second culprit I would suspect in your car is the syncro gears, which are found in the transmission. Syncros are designed to allow the engine’s input shaft to engage the gear you select, such as first or second. Both the input shaft and the gears are rotating at different speeds and the syncros allow them to join together, usually without grinding.

With this particular situation, taking into account that the grinding only happens at low rpms and 1st and 2nd gear, it is more likely you are experiencing the syncro problems I mentioned. Verification of this requires inspection of the entire transmission. During this process the clutch and supporting components will all be inspected for wear. This inspection consists of the labor to remove/install, disassemble/reassemble and inspect the transmission and supporting components. Once the tear down has taken place, the mechanic will know what component needs to be replaced and a quote for parts and labor usually follows.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Kicking sound in Reverse

It sounds like you are having a problem with a motor or transmission mount, allowing the engine to move when you are in reverse. The kicking sound may be the engine hitting the hood or the firewall. I would recommend...

Q: Loud roaring sound - 2008 Honda Ridgeline

Hi there. In many cases, the loud noise you're hearing upon start-up is related to a loose drive or serpentine belt. The fact you hear this noise when you turn might indicate that the power steering pulley or drive belt...

Q: Bad clutch, slips and makes shifting rough

Hello, a clutch that wears out too soon can be frustrating. While doing research for this I found there are quite a few similar complaints. There are multiple parts involved in engaging the clutch and any one of these could...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...