Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: stiff gear change

asked by on

I recently bought an audi a3 fsi. soon after I epc warning light remained on and at times had trouble starting. after diagnostics, sensors and connectors replaced the problem was dirty oil. the system was cleaned and oil replaced. I now have the problem of when the engine is cold it is difficult to get into first gear and reverse goes in with a big clunk. the other gears are also stiff. when the engine is warm the problem is not as bad but it is not the ease and smoothness as before. could this be associated with the recent work carried out?

My car has 126000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Hey there. One of the problems associated with buying a used car is having accurate data on how the previous owner maintained the vehicle. When you mentioned that after diagnostics were completed, that the technician discovered that dirty oil was the problem it seems pretty evident that routine service and maintenance may have been an issue with the previous owner. It definitely raised a red flag with me.

However, what typically doesn’t show up on a diagnostic check is what damage the dirty oil may have caused to the engine/transmission or other components inside including gaskets, o-rings, or gears. Oil works best when it has reached an operating temperature, which is most likely why you’re having problems shifting when the car is cold and why when you shift into reverse initially you hear that "BIG CLUNK"; and when the car heats up, it becomes smoother.

The one thing that dirty oil does a good job of however, is masking mechanical problems inside the engine and transmission case of a manual transmission. It’s quite possible that changing the oil simply brought to life the damage that had been done previously because of wear and tear and lack of proper maintenance. Having 126,000 miles on your manual transmission is about when you’re due for a transmission inspection.

Let us know if the problem smooths out over the next week or so. If not, a good road test and diagnostic check by a qualified mechanic can give you a good starting point for fixing your shifting issue. Thanks for writing into us today! I hope your problems go away sooner rather than later.

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: Driver side door pwr mirror, pwr window, pwr mirror retract buttons and door interior lights stopped working.

The window switches only control the input to the window control module and you should be able to have the body computer scanned to see if you just have a defective drivers window switch. I would remove the drivers switch,...

Q: The car cannot be put in gear when the engine runs

Hello. It sounds like the clutch slave cylinder may not be working properly or has completely failed. The slave cylinder is what makes it easy for you to manually shift through the gears of the car. When the slave cylinder...

Q: Would a coolant temperature sensor cause the car not to start

A coolant sensor is capable to give a temperature feedback from neg 40 degrees to above 280 degrees. If the sensor is reading too high of temperature when compared to the ambient air temperature sensor when first started then the...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...