I have a 5 speed Chevy Cavalier. On my way home, it got stuck in 1st gear and won't let me shift into neutral. The stick shift is very floppy. What could the issue be?

Asked by Jun 26, 2014 at 07:00 PM about the 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

2 Answers


The linkage may have come lose. There is a cotter pin that holds the arms to the rods. Check to see if they are lose, off or even a bolt or two lose or missing. If everything is tight and intact, see if you can manually shift the car while underneath it. If you can't get it to shift, it may be internal to the transmission. Make sure all the rods and linkage all the way to the shifter is connected before tearing down the car.


My 1996 Cavalier Convertable with the 2.4 Twin Cam LD9 engine & 5 Speed manual lost all but 3rd and 4th gears last week. I had been having trouble downshifting from 3rd to 2nd, and finally something let go while leaving work so I only had 3rd & 4th Gears to limp home, just a couple of miles and 5 traffic lights. The 2.4 Twin Cam LD9 engine is only in about 20% of the 1996 Cavaliers, and then most were fitted with an 4 speed automatic, so online knowledge of this engine/transmission combination is somewhat limited. Experienced mechanics are ever more rare. I researched the trouble online at several websites and then started to troubleshoot the problem and search for parts availablity and labor costs. After researching online, I took the chance of diagnosing the trouble myself, thinking I'm having trouble with one or both of the gearshift cables, and YES...IT USES GEARSHIFT CABLES. Called the local chevy dealership parts department, and the parts guy was on top of the situation. I needed the last 10 digits of the vehicles vin# to determine which brand of 5 speed transmission was installed in my car, and then was able to look up the correct parts. I was told the cables are sold as a pair, and are not in stock, it would take 3 or more days to get them shipped in, and the pair of cables was $180 with tax. I have the shop manual and it shows these two cables feeding forwards under the center console and carpeting, thru the firewall on the passenger side, then the cables snake left behind the exhaust manifold into the transmission case in the engine compartment in front of the driver. To gain access and to work safely under the car you would need a pit or a lift. So the car would need to go to a dealership or an experienced autoshop knowledgeable with this dual cable setup, thus adding several hours of shop labor to remove old cables and install new cables ... several hours and a several hundred dollars more...Ouch. I needed to diagnose the problem for real, so one cool morning I dove in. After removing the passenger seat and center console I saw the left shifter cable had slipped off its shifting shaft, I also saw 6 or more plastic bits that once was the left gearshift cable retaining insert. So with the left shifter cable off its shaft it defaults to center position and access to gears: 3rd or 4th only. I went to my Local Napa Autoparts Store and asked the ASC Certified Tech the right questions, and after viewing 3 or 4 screens he went in back and came back with the parts to fix/replace the broken retaining insert. NAPA 615-1434 Shifter Linkage Bushing Kit, with 6 pieces of plastic in it, 2 white and 4 orange for $16 bucks. Paid the Man and he wished me good luck, I went home and used just one of the white pieces to hold the shifter cable onto the shaft. I was doubtful it would do the trick, but after 5 test drives with the center console out, and 100+ gear changes, the car is shifting well. Also the is no more trouble downshifting from 3rd to 2nd. The Problem Is Fixed. I drove the Go Cart back to the Napa Autoparts Store and told the Tech Thank You Very Much for saving me $500-$800 dollars in shop charges. I drove back home and put the center console back in, then the passenger seat and now have my Red GoCart back and ready to take me where I want to go. Mission Accomplished.. MORE INFORMATION: The 5 speed shift assembly uses 2 cables to select gears... The Right Shift cable, located under the gear selector assembly, selects the higher or lower of inline gear pairs available based on the position of the gear shift lever. Forwards for lowers gear 1__3__5 Backwards for higher gear 2 4 R The Left Shift cable moves things into place: Left--Center-- Right. to be able to use: Left = 1st & 2nd Center = 3rd & 4th Right = 5th & Reverse.

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