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Dodge Repair/Neon: How can I get my car out of gear without using the gearshifter?


QUESTION: I have a 1996 Dodge Neon manual 5 speed, 2.0 L 4 cylinder engine. Awhile ago, I shifted into 2nd gear and the right (when looking from the driverís seat at the gearshift) transmission linkage cable broke, leaving it stuck in gear. I have replaced the cables, but the car remains fixed in 2nd. The levers on the transaxle, particularly the right one (when looking under the hood, which is connected to the left side of the gearshift when viewing it from the driverís seat) doesnít allow for the proper range of movement to shift into any gears, except maybe 3rd or 5th, or even neutral. The lever seems unable to move forward enough to allow for the gears to engage. Is there any way I can free the lever to allow for the necessary movement, such as taking it out of gear, and do I need to get into the transmission? How would I go about fixing the problem (in detail please), or is it necessary to take it to a mechanic?

ANSWER: Hi Michael,
About the only quick thing I can suggest is that you push down on the clutch pedal to see if that makes it easier to move the shifter levers.
The Neon service manual gives the instructions for replacing the cables and adjusting the cables which are covered on about 7 pages. I can photocopy and postal mail those to you tomorrow. Just tell me your postal mailing address and I'll send them along. It doesn't require getting into the transmission, just removing the center console and jacking up the car to do one task. So if you need to get it out of gear, try manipulating the levers when the clutch is disengaged. Then follow the pages as to how to replace and adjust the cables. You can do this yourself.
So tell me the mailing address. After you get the pages if you would send me back three postage stamps to cover my copy cost and postage that would be appreciated.
Please 'rate' my answer (see PS below). Thanks for doing that now, including giving me a nomination for 'volunteer of the month' if you think I am deserving of that.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the offer, but I don't think the manual will help. We have already replaced the cables, but the problem is still present with fully functioning cables and bushings. I appreciate your efforts to help, though.

Hi Michael,
I wonder if the crossover lever/cable might not be adjusted properly. How to do that is shown in the manual.  Are you sure that I can't send you the page about adjusting that crossover lever/cable? I believe that they may be of help. Here is what it says (and there are figures that show this):
There is an adjusting screw on the crossover cable (that is the left one as viewed by the driver) at the console (rear) end of it. Loosen that screw. You will find there is a hole in the crossover lever (the one on the right viewed from the front of the car) which when the lever is in the 3-4 neutral position that hole is alligned with a hole in the boss on the top or the transaxle case. You stick a  1/4" drill bit through the hole in the lever and into the hole in the boss and be sure the bit goes into the transaxle case at least 1/2 inch. Allow the shifter to rest in the neutral position. Then torque the adjustment screw to 70 inch-pounds. Use care not to shift the mechanism off-center while tightening the screw. Then remove the drill bit and see it things have improved.
Thanks so much for the rating and nomination. You can do both again if you believe I merit that!

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Roland Finston


Free fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

I answer questions seven days a week and respond to you in about 30 minutes. "Maxed Out" means I am answering another question or asleep overnight so try again later.

I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2011 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top expert" from 2010-2015 here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.


Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars

Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles.

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"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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