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"sloppy" shifter when in neutral (i.e. doesn't return to middle)

7 June 2004
I have searched this topic but can't find anything (but apologies if this is going over old ground).

When my friend's 1991 NSX (70,000km) is in neutral, the shifter stays in what ever position you leave it in i.e. if you take it out of first and let go of the shifter it will stay on the left hand side between 1st and 2nd (rather than returning to the middle between 3rd and 4th) and if you take it out of 5th and let go of the shifter it will stay on the right hand side between 5th and Reverse (rather than returning to between 3rd and 4th). The shifter also makes clunking noises when shifted from side to side in neutral (i.e. at each end of the gate) which mine doesn't. This problem makes it difficult to find the right gears sometimes (particulary 2nd to 3rd).

Are there springs in the gate (which return the shifter to the middle) which might have stopped working? Any ideas on how serious/how to fix?

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Hi Grant,

The spring loaded effect you are describing is a function of the shift system INSIDE the trans. The first thing I would do is jack up the car and remove the gray plastic lower cover from the shift linkage. Page 13-9 shows the "Lower Cover"(five 10mm bolts need to come off). I would remove the two shift cables (cotter pins on top) and then move both levers. The "Select Lever" should be spring loaded without the shifter connected, and it should rest in the center position(3/4th gate as you mentioned). If not, there is an issue inside the trans for sure.

Go to page 13-9 of the online service manual and look at the picture on the right side and see the "select cable". It connects to the smaller lever (Select Lever). With the cable off this lever is the one that should be spring loaded. If you look at page 13-19 you will see the "Select Return Spring", this seems like where the problem will be.

This should take about an hour to complete and since it is an inspection it's easy on the wallet:). After that, you can decide a course of action, i.e. removal of trans, or removal of console to look at the shifter. I am, unfortunately, thinking the trans is the issue.

Thanks very much for your reply Larry - I appreciate it. If it is a "trans out" job, I assume we are talking big bucks for labour? parts? thanks
Yep - sounds internal. There are ball detents on the shift rods inside the tranny. If it's not behaving it sounds like oner of these shift rods may be broken, the ball detent somehow jammed open, or some other bad internal problem. My big concern would be that you've got a piece of broken shift rod being circulated through the tranny. Unlikely, but that would get ugly quick.
I would figure R&R trans $800 and disassemble/rebuild depending on what is found could be $1000 on up. My numbers are $USD.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's test it:).

BTW, Was this transmission apart before??????