Our poster child for the Boosters of Fourth Gear

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

Since I'm so close to losing my mind over this, I really hope you can help me fix my beloved truck! I have a 1987 Nissan 4 X 4 six-cylinder truck that has not given me an ounce of trouble in all of its 72,000 miles. My problem is that soon after it was rear ended at approximately 30,000 miles, it started slipping out of third gear and into neutral when my foot is off the accelerator. It seems to be happening more and more often. What can I do? Help!

RAY: Well, Sierra, the first thing you should do is have the two motor mounts and the transmission mount checked. If any one of those were broken in the accident, the twisting motion of the engine could cause the transmission to slip out of gear.

TOM: But if all of these mounts are OK, the problem is almost certainly inside the transmission itself--and it may not have anything to do with the accident. On some vehicles, the linkage that connects the shifter to the transmission can be knocked out of whack by a rear end jolt. But since your truck doesn't have external transmission linkage, we can rule that out. Your transmission may simply be on its way out to lunch.

RAY: It's going to cost you big bucks to fix. There's a lot of labor involved, and the transmission itself is expensive because it's attached to the four-wheel-drive transfer case. Start by getting an estimate for a new transmission. When they revive you, find out what it would cost to have them rebuild yours. When they revive you again, go out to some junk yards and price a used one. My guess is that a used transmission will be the cheapest way to go, but make sure the junk yard warranties both the part AND the labor.

TOM: Once you've completed all of this research, and discover how much it's going to cost to fix, you may suddenly become much more tolerant of its popping out of third gear. At that point, we suggest you try to discover the virtues of fourth gear.

RAY: Fourth is a wonderful gear and is often neglected and misunderstood. In fact, we've decided to make you the poster child of the newest CLICK and CLACK organization, the BFG, the Boosters of Fourth Gear. Congratulations, Sierra! Our photographer will be calling you soon.

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