Why does my car pop out of gear when driving up steep hills?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1989

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1986 Subaru GL 4WD Wagon. The car runs perfectly and has gone over 40,000 miles. A minor problem occurs when the car is in first gear on a very steep hill, headed downhill. It will sometimes pop out of gear. If I place my hand on the gear shift, the light pressure is enough to keep it from popping out. What is your diagnosis?

TOM: There are two possible explanations. If first gear is the only gear in which this happens, it may be bad first gear synchronizers. The "synchros," as they're known, are brass rings which are responsible for engaging the gears without gnashing and then keeping them engaged.

RAY: If you can make the car pop out of other gears under the same conditions, you probably have a loose mount. When you use the transmission to slow the car on a steep downgrade, the wheels are pushing the engine, rather than the usual case of the engine pushing the wheels. The engine and transmission are being twisted, and the loose mount might allow them to shift slightly... enough to pop the car out of gear. Have the motor and transmission mounts checked. I don't know which it is, but you probably have at least one bad mount.

TOM: Roy Rogers had a bad mount once, but then he ended up getting rid of it and winding up with Trigger. (or was that Dale?)

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