: Shifting ... how un-smooth should it really be with our cars?



WesH8398
06-11-10, 04:54 AM
Ok, I've had my V for a few months now and now that I've replaced my motor mounts with a set from Creative Steel, I'm on to the next thing that's buggin me about the car. The shifting is brutal. My wife's car is a 2004 Mazda 3 that shifts like a dream. Now I think it's too much to ask to expect the V's shifter to feel like the Mazdas, but it's gotta be better than this.

Here's how I can describe it. I often find myself getting blocked out of gears temporarily ... rarely when driving "spiritedly", but quite often when granny driving the car. It varries from 1-2, 2-3, and 3-4 shifts....and the occasional ***** when I'm in neutral at a stop light, the light goes green, and I panick because I can't get the effin thing into 1st. :thepan:

I'm not sure how much detail I need to leave here, but I'm just looking for suggestions as to what the problem could be. I thought maybe the dead motor mounts could have been contributing to it, but now that they're fixed and the shifting still sucks, it's gotta be something else. Are my synchro's shot, maybe? Is there a definitive "test" for this? Or, maybe, this is just normal...? If you think it's a particular issue, how's it fixed? And if it's something I probably wouldn't want to do myself, how many hours would a shop charge me to do so?

Thanks in advance everyone. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my V. Just fine-tuning it to appease my anal retentiveness when it comes to my vehicle. :bouncy:

Stratman
06-11-10, 07:59 AM
Yep. I'm in my second month with mine and I'm still getting used to it. If you search other threads on the topic people are mostly in agreement that it is difficult to drive the car "smoothly". I've gotten much better but still do the occasional back realignment. I think a short throw shifter will go a long way to tightening things up. A forum member Pisnuoff sells a modified stock shifter that seems to be a great option. I've heard nothing but good things and intend on picking one up myself. Also getting rid of the CAGS skip shift (forced 1st-4th under low throttle) should help. You can drive around it but a lot of times I want to go from 1st to 2nd or 3rd it catches me. Sometimes there is a little extra work to get into gears. Like you have to push through a second level or something. Hard to explain but I'm of the opinion it is slop in the shifter as well.

The other thing is this car is torquey as hell. And with 3.73 rear end it really want to slam you into the seat. Just can't compare it to a Mazda 3.

Stratman
06-11-10, 08:03 AM
Also hitting the sweet spot with the clutch really helps. Just a little past release not all the way to the floor. Biggest improvement in jerk. Feels just like an auto when you catch it right.

ahahnu
06-11-10, 08:05 AM
I have said this over and over, this car was not meant to drive slow. Going slow the car is much more quirky. Try shifint around or under 2500 rpms when around town, it will help. You'll want a short shifter and must get the bushings. It will make it more notchier, not smoother. The only way to make it go smooth, is to go fast.

Stratman
06-11-10, 08:20 AM
The only way to make it go smooth, is to go fast.

Sage advice.

WesH8398
06-11-10, 08:40 AM
Yah, I've done the skip shift eliminator already and I've also found the modified stock short shifter that Pisnuoff makes. That'll be on order when I get some cash available that's not being spent on spring projects around the house. :alchi: LOL I've got the shifting down "ok" at this point. I still get some jumpy shifts in there where you get bouncing, which results in foot bouncing on throttle and it just gets worse from there. lol I know that sweet spot you're talking about though ... definitely. It's a fine line between slipping the clutch and getting into that bouncy crap. :thepan:

ahahnu
06-11-10, 08:44 AM
Once it "bounces" just take your foot off the gas. Not a natural motion for the driveline and it doesn't need any more stress.

darkman
06-11-10, 08:50 AM
The only way to make it go smooth, is to go fast.

And that is exactly what I told the officer, but he was unimpressed and kept writing.

Stratman
06-11-10, 08:59 AM
^Nice.

JSR
06-11-10, 09:02 AM
Just got a V and immediately noticed the lack of "smoothness." After installing a B&M with the UUC bushings it got a little bit better to control if only because I had the ability to get it into gear quicker. For me its just been throttle/clutch modulation at light loads to get it bearable for the wife. One thing I do to make it better is just skip gears 1-3, 2-4, 3-6 which just results in less shifting all together. Really though faster is definitely smoother.

kevm14
06-11-10, 09:26 AM
I never had an issue with light driving on my T56 Camaro. In fact I found the harder I drove, the balkier the trans was. I know the shift linkage is more complex on the CTS-V, though.

I also suspect the dual mass flywheel is adding a feel of lash to the drivetrain, and probably doesn't help a rough low speed shift.

I'm sure many of you have seen this but it was cool to see this demonstration of the dual mass flywheel. Easy to see how it could exacerbate jerkiness:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnaXB8q3uzQ

ctsv154
06-11-10, 09:46 AM
To the OP, make sure you clutch fluid is clean and the system is bled well. GM hydro's area pain to get air out of. If you drive the car to long with a clutch that isn't fulling disengaging, you can mess up syncros in the trans. When I bought my car from the dealer the reservoir was empty. They said th car had been compleatly serviced and looked over. I took it back and showed them and made them fill and bleed the system. Shortly after, I started having some transmission problems and since the service for the empty reservoir was on record, they couldn't say anything.

Also, there really is no test to make sure you syncros are good or bad. However, if your clutch is in good condition and you are still haveing lock out and problems getting into gear while not in motion, you could very well have issues with the transmission. You never know how the previous owner treated the car. Did they let it get low on fluid and not bleed it, beat the hell out of it, miss a bunch of shifts? You just don't know! Just start with the basics like ensuring the hydrolics are in good operating condition and go from there.

soulja
06-11-10, 10:38 AM
Master your rev matching and heal toe shifting and the V experience is much smoother.

CadzillaTN
06-11-10, 02:58 PM
Ok, I've had my V for a few months now and now that I've replaced my motor mounts with a set from Creative Steel, I'm on to the next thing that's buggin me about the car. The shifting is brutal. My wife's car is a 2004 Mazda 3 that shifts like a dream. Now I think it's too much to ask to expect the V's shifter to feel like the Mazdas, but it's gotta be better than this.

Here's how I can describe it. I often find myself getting blocked out of gears temporarily ... rarely when driving "spiritedly", but quite often when granny driving the car. It varries from 1-2, 2-3, and 3-4 shifts....and the occasional "****!" when I'm in neutral at a stop light, the light goes green, and I panick because I can't get the effin thing into 1st. :thepan:

I'm not sure how much detail I need to leave here, but I'm just looking for suggestions as to what the problem could be. I thought maybe the dead motor mounts could have been contributing to it, but now that they're fixed and the shifting still sucks, it's gotta be something else. Are my synchro's shot, maybe? Is there a definitive "test" for this? Or, maybe, this is just normal...? If you think it's a particular issue, how's it fixed? And if it's something I probably wouldn't want to do myself, how many hours would a shop charge me to do so?

Thanks in advance everyone. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE my V. Just fine-tuning it to appease my anal retentiveness when it comes to my vehicle. :bouncy:

is this related more to shifter precision and gear engagement than clutch release? im interested in your comparison of before and after the cs mounts. what color did you get and are you saying the herky jerky bounce bounce bounce created solely by the spongy stock mounts was not significantly reduced or eliminated?

BirdmanTamu
06-11-10, 05:54 PM
To the OP:

To avoid getting locked out of 1st at a light. You just have to get those pesky synchros to line up right. Try downshifting through the gears when coming to the light. It really helps if you make sure you've at least down shifted into 2nd before coming to a stop and then put it in 1st (even if you don't engage and go directly to neutral to wait out the light). You'll be surprised how often your probability of getting into 1st increases.

If you like to pop it in neutral while braking from a higher speed to save your clutch. While stopped at the light, just press in the clutch and shift from 3rd to 2nd to 1st (at least 2nd to 1st) and get back in neutral to wait out the light. Again your probability of getting into 1st after that will increase.

If after all that it still has issues getting into 1st, try blipping the throttle while pushing it into 1st. All these tricks have helped me out when learning to drive this beast (some what) civil.

As for lock outs of other gears while driving....that may take time to get down and may never be perfect. The sweet spot can vary by gear/rpm/speed-of-shift and all that can vary by driving aggressiveness. Even on the rare occasions when I'm grannying around I usually slowly raise the revs up past 2K to help out with the shifts from 1-2, 2-3. But who likes to granny it? A good quick pace (if possible) is best for this car.

Upgrading to a short throw with UUC bushings and adding AMSoil tranny fluid has also helped make things better. Just wait till you start getting the dreaded rear clunk sound between shifts, but that's a whole other issue.

ahahnu
06-11-10, 08:26 PM
^ definitely shift 2nd to 1st when stopped at a light. I usually leave it there makes it easy to go when green.

Gus_Mahn
06-11-10, 11:56 PM
Try pushing the shifter towards first and letting the clutch up 'till it pops in. It will pop right in, and the car won't move if you're careful. The secret to smooth around town shifts is: shifting at low rpm, skipping gears, matching rpm, and careful perhaps slower release of the clutch. I love the clutch for speed shifting, but it's pretty abrupt around town. There is so much slop in the driveline, it's easy to get a rebound. Stiff bushings all around and getting rid of the dual mass clutch would probably also help.

c4ss
06-12-10, 12:20 AM
Sometimes if I can't get into 1st or 2nd, if I pull the clutch out a hair, it will slide into gear. This happens most in reverse when I back out of my garage. It usually doesn't go in perfectly, but pulling the clutch out about a quarter of the way usually lets it slide in.

Mystical_Ice
06-12-10, 01:04 AM
i didn't think 1st gear had synchros...

i've had this same problem for probably a good year now. i definately don't remember it being this bad when i first got the car. things that bug/worry me (and i've changed the clutch fluid):

1) downshifting, from any gear (6-5, 5-4, 4-3, 3-2) the gear doesn't slip in. i have to either FORCE it (which i NEVER do), or blip the throttle to make the RPMs match, then it slides right in. never any grinding, which tells me it's not synchros.

2) finding 1st gear. it's usually a 50/50 chance that, from neutral with the engine running, i'll find 1st gear. usually if i don't find 1st gear right away, i go straight into 2nd (never any trouble there - because of the synchros i'm guessing), and then either right back to first, or just start off in 2nd. it's not like we don't have enough power to start off in 2nd extremely easily. shoot, i've started out in 3rd by mistake more times than i can remember

actually that's it really... just those two problems.

also i know the clutch is fine, and is completely disengaging/engaging.

daVe06
06-12-10, 08:22 AM
I'm happy with my shifter now. I did the short throw modification to the stock shifter and the urethane bushings last year. It was much better but still not what I would consider good. I have now stiffened up the stock tranny mount by filling in the voids with urethane. :thumbsup: This has made the world of difference. And I'm still running the stock motor mounts.

PISNUOFF
06-12-10, 10:16 AM
To the OP, make sure you clutch fluid is clean and the system is bled well. GM hydro's area pain to get air out of. If you drive the car to long with a clutch that isn't fulling disengaging, you can mess up syncros in the trans. When I bought my car from the dealer the reservoir was empty. They said th car had been compleatly serviced and looked over. I took it back and showed them and made them fill and bleed the system. Shortly after, I started having some transmission problems and since the service for the empty reservoir was on record, they couldn't say anything.

Also, there really is no test to make sure you syncros are good or bad. However, if your clutch is in good condition and you are still haveing lock out and problems getting into gear while not in motion, you could very well have issues with the transmission. You never know how the previous owner treated the car. Did they let it get low on fluid and not bleed it, beat the hell out of it, miss a bunch of shifts? You just don't know! Just start with the basics like ensuring the hydrolics are in good operating condition and go from there.

If your synchros were bad you'd know it and you'd be grinding the gears with the clutch fully to the floor. It would be nearly impossible to not grind them.

Clutch fluid. Whenever I feel the slightest difficulty shifting, I flush the fluid and it's all better. Especially the blocking out of first.

rand49er
06-12-10, 10:59 AM
Lot of good observations and advice in the poasts above.

My contention is that the V takes a significantly greater amount of attention on the part of the driver to drive/shift smoothly than a lesser-powered car (e.g. my DD, a ZX3 Ford Focus) even when all the fluids and mechanics are up to snuff. What they call that? ... driver involvement? :D

kevm14
06-12-10, 11:00 AM
Aren't the blocking rings responsible for the speed matching before the synchros engage? A different trans fluid might help.

Mystical_Ice
06-12-10, 12:24 PM
Lot of good observations and advice in the poasts above.

My contention is that the V takes a significantly greater amount of attention on the part of the driver to drive/shift smoothly than a lesser-powered car (e.g. my DD, a ZX3 Ford Focus) even when all the fluids and mechanics are up to snuff. What they call that? ... driver involvement? :D

A lesser powered car? What about cars that have a lot more HP than us, yet gear shifting is silk smooth? Anyone ever drive the new V? A z06? Gear changes arent near as hard as our cars lol

rand49er
06-12-10, 09:14 PM
A lesser powered car? What about cars that have a lot more HP than us, yet gear shifting is silk smooth? Anyone ever drive the new V? A z06? Gear changes arent near as hard as our cars lolSome of us less experienced guyz :worship: don't know about such things. Plus, can't be too many of 'em out there ... same power, same buck$. But, I hear what you're sayin'. What do they do different?

Mystical_Ice
06-12-10, 11:48 PM
i haven't owned said cars, but i've driven them =P

the shifting is a lot smoother. :(

toastmn
06-13-10, 02:38 AM
For the smoothest of shifts don't use the clutch once your moving. That's what I do when traffic is hindering my acceleration. I only use this method for shifts under 3k though. So long as your not accelerating/decelerating too much, and you get the shifter to the next gear (hold with slight pressure) before the rpm's drop to where they would be in that gear, the shifter drops in with absolutely zero jerking around.

Otherwise its a matter of rpm matching. When I first drove the car I was taking too long to shift between gears, and the car would surge when the clutch was released to match the rpms.

WesH8398
06-13-10, 05:47 AM
First off - Thanks everyone for all the information and input. It's greatly apprecaited. A true testiment to how great this community can be.
Here's another thing I've noticed. It's going to be hard to explain, but I'll try. Clutch is depressed and I'm coasting up to a stop. Somewhere between slowing down and actually coming to a stop, something in the drivetrain "grabs", I can feel a VERY faint (remember...totally anal retentive about my car) bump, and when I try to move the shifter out of whichever gear it's in (usually 2nd), it's stuck. I could push/pull it out of gear with an effort, but I never do. Once I'm completely stopped, whatever's "grabbing" stops and the shifter moves fine. I've noticed this in 1st gear too, when driving slowly around parking lots - "parade" style.
Any suggestions...? Is this normal?


To the OP, make sure you clutch fluid is clean and the system is bled well. GM hydro's area pain to get air out of. If you drive the car to long with a clutch that isn't fulling disengaging, you can mess up syncros in the trans. When I bought my car from the dealer the reservoir was empty. They said th car had been compleatly serviced and looked over. I took it back and showed them and made them fill and bleed the system. Shortly after, I started having some transmission problems and since the service for the empty reservoir was on record, they couldn't say anything.

Also, there really is no test to make sure you syncros are good or bad. However, if your clutch is in good condition and you are still haveing lock out and problems getting into gear while not in motion, you could very well have issues with the transmission. You never know how the previous owner treated the car. Did they let it get low on fluid and not bleed it, beat the hell out of it, miss a bunch of shifts? You just don't know! Just start with the basics like ensuring the hydrolics are in good operating condition and go from there.

I actually noticed when I first got the car that the trans fluid reservoire was dry. It only took a couple ounces to top it up, so I didn't figure any harm was done. I'm not getting any grinding on shifts, except for my very first shift of the day when the car's been sitting all night and things are all cooled off. After that first shift, there's no grinding at all.


... im interested in your comparison of before and after the cs mounts. what color did you get and are you saying the herky jerky bounce bounce bounce created solely by the spongy stock mounts was not significantly reduced or eliminated?

I got the grey mounts. I don't think the mounts had any impact on the "herky jerky bounce bounce bounce" that the car does ... as the rest of the posts in this thread maintain - I think the herky jerky-ness is on the driver more than the vehicle. Replacing the mounts was not an attempt to cure this issue.


To the OP:

To avoid getting locked out of 1st at a light. You just have to get those pesky synchros to line up right. Try downshifting through the gears when coming to the light. It really helps if you make sure you've at least down shifted into 2nd before coming to a stop and then put it in 1st (even if you don't engage and go directly to neutral to wait out the light). You'll be surprised how often your probability of getting into 1st increases.

If you like to pop it in neutral while braking from a higher speed to save your clutch. While stopped at the light, just press in the clutch and shift from 3rd to 2nd to 1st (at least 2nd to 1st) and get back in neutral to wait out the light. Again your probability of getting into 1st after that will increase.

If after all that it still has issues getting into 1st, try blipping the throttle while pushing it into 1st. All these tricks have helped me out when learning to drive this beast (some what) civil.

As for lock outs of other gears while driving....that may take time to get down and may never be perfect. The sweet spot can vary by gear/rpm/speed-of-shift and all that can vary by driving aggressiveness. Even on the rare occasions when I'm grannying around I usually slowly raise the revs up past 2K to help out with the shifts from 1-2, 2-3. But who likes to granny it? A good quick pace (if possible) is best for this car.

Upgrading to a short throw with UUC bushings and adding AMSoil tranny fluid has also helped make things better. Just wait till you start getting the dreaded rear clunk sound between shifts, but that's a whole other issue.

Good info - thanks! I try not to downshift too much in order to save the clutch a bit. I'd much rather change brake parts over clutches.


For the smoothest of shifts don't use the clutch once your moving. That's what I do when traffic is hindering my acceleration. I only use this method for shifts under 3k though. So long as your not accelerating/decelerating too much, and you get the shifter to the next gear (hold with slight pressure) before the rpm's drop to where they would be in that gear, the shifter drops in with absolutely zero jerking around.

Otherwise its a matter of rpm matching. When I first drove the car I was taking too long to shift between gears, and the car would surge when the clutch was released to match the rpms.

Thanks, but no thanks. lol I couldn't bring myself to shift without the clutch unless I absolutely had to.

ctsv154
06-13-10, 07:59 AM
If the fluid was low and by your desciption of it trying to grap at slow speed n first and second, it sounds like you may need to flush th fluid and bleed the hell out of it. I think that will fix a lot of your problems.

WesH8398
06-13-10, 08:18 AM
If the fluid was low and by your desciption of it trying to grap at slow speed n first and second, it sounds like you may need to flush th fluid and bleed the hell out of it. I think that will fix a lot of your problems.

I'm sure instructions are somewhere in the FAQ. That'll go on my list of things to do, for sure.

toastmn
06-13-10, 03:09 PM
Thanks, but no thanks. lol I couldn't bring myself to shift without the clutch unless I absolutely had to.

I completely understand, and I said the same thing at first, but its not hard. I find the constant clutching annoying in traffic, and it may even reduce clutch wear..

You will have to blimp the throttle for the shifter to easily pull out of the current gear without the clutch, but other than that just get the shifter to the next gear before the R's drop to where they want to be.

calidave
06-13-10, 03:17 PM
I've had to shift from 2-1 in my V from a stop for so long now I don't even notice that I do it anymore -- it's just a habit. I'm pretty sure that even in stop-and-go traffic when I have absolutely no reason to get out of first (other than to save clutch) I'll do a 2-1 shift. I've had it pop out of first a time or two. Scared the hell out of me.. so now I always 2-1 shift.

toastmn
06-13-10, 03:23 PM
On that note, I shift from third to first, and I also do this instinctively, but its roots go back to a 93 accord with 270k, and that was the only way for it to find first..

Mystical_Ice
06-13-10, 05:47 PM
I completely understand, and I said the same thing at first, but its not hard. I find the constant clutching annoying in traffic, and it may even reduce clutch wear..

You will have to blimp the throttle for the shifter to easily pull out of the current gear without the clutch, but other than that just get the shifter to the next gear before the R's drop to where they want to be.

I disagree... "constant clutch use" may wear out the clutch, but shifting without the clutch is wearing out the synchros, and I'd much rather wear out the clutch than synchros.

Even though you're "matching RPMs" before shifting, you're still putting a strain on the synchros, which are the ones responsible for truly matching the RPMs...

kevm14
06-13-10, 05:48 PM
I agree with that. If you rev match all shifts (up and down), but still use the clutch, you'll put the LEAST amount of strain on everything except maybe the throw-out bearing.

maxspeed96ct
06-13-10, 06:07 PM
check out my thread in the performance section , I fided some of my shifter sloppyness with just a simple rubber gasket.