97 v8 standard will not shift into any gear


Asked by Nov 08, 2013 at 09:23 PM about the 1997 Dodge Dakota

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Noticed at first it was getting harder to shift into 1st, but within a couple days, l wasn't able to shift into any gear - up or down. I was slowing down to turn off hwy & tried to shift into 3rd & it wouldn't go - shifted to neutral & stopped. With engine still running, I tried to shifting into any gear - nothing. Shut truck off - still would not shift. Turned key to just before turning over & was able to shift into gear (all gears) but it made some noise until I reached up to 3rd & 4th gear. When I slowed down to turn & tried to change gears it did same thing. 3 blocks later, pulling into my driveway, it was making quite the racket. The only recent work was u joints & mount. Clutch? Tranny? Not sure where to start & if it is worth fixing, as it has lots of mile, but has been a problem free truck until now. Suggestions?

6 Answers


That sounds like you have a mainshaft and or bearing wear causing the internals to be slightly out of line making shifting almost impossible, there should be some good transmissions at auto wreckers if you don't want to do a overhaul of yours, but either way you do I would replace the clutch kit and at least the slave cylinder. But the decision is yours on to fix or not fix. With all of this garbage they want to put on new vehicles under the Safety heading I'd fix it if it has been as good as you say it has been and drive it till it really breaks.

I'd suspect a motor mount that the rubber has gone to another place and now the alignment of the linkage has put it into a "locked" in a fail safe position~ jack up the tranny with a woodblock under the oil pan to see the mounts give up the game~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

they seem vulnerable~ https://www.google.com/#q=1997+Dodge+Dakota+transmission+mount&tb m=shop

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Tennisshoes is essentially right, but may have left out some information that might help you decide on a course of action[ Not that he said anything bad- he offered sensible solutions, just maybe in not the right order based on likelyhood, priority, and cost-effectiveness. Very helpful, but a bit confusing to someone that is not uber-mechanically minded, and the way your question is written, I assume you are not.]. SO, ON TO IT. . . Your description of the symptoms is not EXACT, and thus open to (mis-)interpretation, so, this is somewhat assumptive, based on the wording of your question, but... This type of behavior in manual transmission equipped vehicles is almost always caused by the clutch failing to fully release(or to release at all). It IS possible, believe it or not, in emergency situations, to drive the vehicle like this, but it requires skills and knowledge of transmission workings that most people do not have, along with a strong right arm. It is not very good for the vehicle, either. SO- this could be caused by a failure of the clutch release mechanism (cable, lever, hydraulic- depends on the make and model), throwout bearing, or a contaminate material may have gotten into the inner area of the clutch disc and is creating friction between the clutch disc, flywheel, and/or pressure plate even with the pedal pushed in.(broken pressure plate spring pieces, for example. This may also account for the noise in lower gears). The noise in first & 2nd gear may also mean the oil level is low in the tranny OR that the countershaft bearings are shot and you indeed need a new (or used or rebuilt) transmission. You just had the mounts replaced by a shop, right? That means they looked at the trans mount, too and it was OK. Plus, it was shifting fine when you got it back from the mounts & u-joint repair, so I am inclined to disagree with the Judge. Have the clutch inspected and the oil topped up in the tranny first. It won't cost you much. Troubleshooting by replacing one thing after another is a stupid and REALLY expensive way to diagnose a problem. There you have it. Now, provided that indeed is your problem, the solutions that Tennisshoes offered will work just fine.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Appreciate the info as I am not mechanical. I have a few friends that are, but they HATE working on Dakotas. This gives me an idea of what the problem might be & where to start looking & hopefully get a few more miles out of it. Thanks for your help. Christine

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

@splintar how would you go about removing a contaminate such as water from the inner area of the clutch disk? Would I have to fully access the clutch?

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