Piston Slap: Demand Satisfaction…via YouTube?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap demand satisfactionvia youtube

TTAC commentator hidrotule2001 writes,


I’ve got an intermittent, befuddling problem with the manual transmission in my 2011 Ford Fiesta: The shifter will periodically refuse to move into 4th gear.

This usually happens 10-15 minutes after the car is started, and mostly during warm weather (but I’ve never been able to consistently reproduce the behavior). When i say it refuses to move into 4th gear, I mean with the clutch fully engaged (peddle to the floor) attempting to move the shifter into 4th position feels like trying to shift into 1st gear when going 60 miles an hour; like there is some sort of synchro problem.

Moving the shifter back to the neutral position and trying again doesn’t change the behavior (the shifter never gets far out of the neutral position to begin with). Down-shifting to 3rd, and then trying to shift again does get rid of the problem (at least so far), which is why I haven’t been able to demonstrate it to the dealer.

The car is 100% stock, and only has 10.5k miles on it. I’ve done some searching on various forums and the closest I’ve found is a couple of posts on Mustang forums with similar issues where the transmission fluid was low, but I’ve had that checked and everything is within spec.

Any ideas on what might be causing this? The problem is an annoyance right now, but I wonder if it might indicate an underlying issue that could get worse as time goes on…

Sajeev answers:

Befuddling is a good word: Google search fail FTL. So I think the hydraulic clutch could be out of alignment (master or slave cylinder not grabbing/releasing as they should), or maybe the fluid level is low (already been checked, I know) , or maybe the 4th gear synchro is munched and you need a new transaxle.

Since this Ford still has a warranty, ask the dealer if they once again…deep breath…checked the fluid level, bled and inspected the hydraulic clutch assembly, inspected the shifter linkage and ask how they can determine if the 4th gear synchro is bad. Starting a dialogue on these items is important.


Get your camera phone ready, go driving and record the problem when it happens. Edit, say some clever (not douchey) things before and after the raw footage and post on YouTube.

Email/show to dealership, take off your glove and demand satisfaction like a proper Southern Gentleman (kidding), then post it everywhere the Ford customer service/social media peeps exist. I suspect that after videotaping the problem you’ll have a new gearbox in a matter of weeks. If you’re really lucky, they’ll spring for a rental and it’ll be a Crown Vic…son!

Not that I have any foundation for my beliefs, nor does Piston Slap own a time machine to witness the future or find a case study from the past. No, the Panther Chassis doesn’t count. But do yourself a solid, get your phone ready and make it Lights/Camera/Action when you can’t grab 4th. If some musician dude brought United Airlines to their knees with a corny, yet catchy song…well, YouTube beckons.

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2 of 51 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Jun 02, 2012

    krohodes1 and nullomodo, thanks for your replies; you two are some of the "sane" ones on here

  • Mvm912 Mvm912 on Jun 06, 2012

    I had a very similar problem with my civic, but with both 2nd and 4th gear. Same thing. Shifter wouldn't move into 2nd or 4th, just like you describe "like trying to shift into 1st while doing 60 mph." Had the transmission checked, clutch, clutch master cylinder, replaced shifter cables. Problem wouldn't go away. Turns out I simply needed a new shifter assembly as it was periodically binding. After the shifter assembly was replaced car shifted like new. Your car is much newer than mine was at the time, maybe your car just got a poorly manufactured part in the shifter?

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