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MG Car Repair/TR3 won't shift out of 2


Howard, as usual I jumped the gun on the so called diagnosis on the TR3 not shifting. I told you before that the lever outside the bell housing was stuck, but it turns out to be that the slave cylinder was shot and frozen-will replace it and the master. However, the transmission will still not come out of second gear without a great deal of effort. Took the top cover off the trans. it seems to be related to the 1st-2nd gear selector. It will shift into 1st and going into 2nd but very difficult to come out of 2nd. Literature says the ball and spring in the detents might need to be replaced. But it sounds like they are there to prevent the shifter from coming out of gear and not if it is hard to get it out of 2nd gear to neutral? Any ideas? Thanks, Gabe

Hi Gabe,

If this car has been sitting for a long time and not driven, I could be rust causing the problem because oil don't stay on metal very long. There are additives to make oil cling to metal for a very long time in engines but that must NEVER be used in a transmission. The springs and detent balls are inside the 1st / 2nd gear assembly and hold the outer slider in place when shifted into a gear. The same three balls and springs are used for 1st and 2nd so if you can move the outer slider into 1st easily but difficult in 2nd then it may be just rust on the 2nd gear side.

So before you think about removing the gearbox and taking it apart you should shift it into 1st and take a spray can with a long plastic nozzle like WD-40 and spray up in between the slider and the splined hub on the shaft and rotate it as there are three sets of ball and springs. Then work it into 2nd and out many times to see if you can free it up some. If it does free up then it was just rust. If you use a lot of WD-40 drain the oil and put in fresh oil as you should do anyway if it has sat for a long time. If you replace the master cylinder and slave cylinder be sure to use DOT 4 brake fluid NOT DOT 3 as many books say.

Let me know,


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Howard M. Fitzcharles III


MG from 1956 (USA versions only) up and Engine theory.


Dealership line mechanic on MG, Triumph, Jaguar for 15 years, Instructor in commercial mechanics school 2 yr. Product information manager for piston and valve manufacture, Instructor & hotline answer man for import car parts importer 15 yrs.

Associate member SAE EAA member

Import Car magazine

ASE Master Auto with L-1 certification up to 2000

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