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Old 03-10-2010, 02:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Help - Can't get into reverse

Hello,
Please let me know what you think is the problem. I have a 1999 Lotus Esprit V8 with 59,000 miles.

I cannot get it into reverse. The shifting into the rest of the gears is fine. The clutch was resurfaced and rebuilt with a new clutch flywheel and clutch pressure plates in 2005 and it feels great, no slipping or anything. The previous owner did force it into reverse once, and it disconnected the cable, so he had that repaired.

Here is what I have noticed:
Shifting into reverse has gotten progressively worse the last month or so.
I can easily shift into reverse when the car is turned off, and if it the car is cold.
If I drive the car and warm it up, then turn it off, I cannot get it into reverse even with the car turned off.


Here is the cars full maintenance history:

9/25/09
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

10/6/08
Reconnected shift cable and adjust reverse inhibitor bracket

7/28/08
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil
Fixed wiring for rear brake lamp

8/3/07
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil
Replaced air filters

2/7/06
Installed new SRS dual pole arming sensor assembly
Installed dual pole arming sensor assembly
Replaced AC system Freon charge for ice cold air
Fixed energy reserve voltage

1/28/06
Installed New Idle Speed regulator
Upgraded all 8 new NGK Iridium spark plugs
Replaced Plenum Gasket
Injector cleaner
Installed new Noise Filter
Rear window defog repair kit
Installed Capacitor for clear stereo sound

8/24/05
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil
Replaced side marker light switch
Installed new front wishbone
Installed bolt for engine main
Installed new rear main seal
Installed 2 new roll pins
Brake cleaner service
Installed 2 new oil seals, x-shaft LH and RH
Replaced end housing gasket
Replaced bellows
Performed overall vehicle inspection
Installed new drivers door mirror and wiring
Heat-shield fix to prevent AC buzz
Pressure washed engine
Replaced lower control arm transfer ball-joint and bushings
Resurfaced and rebuilt new clutch flywheel and clutch pressure plates
Installed new transaxle shift shaft housing seals
Re-aim and re-set headlights
Adjusted rear hatch for easy proper opening
Repair slight curb rash on 1 wheel, mount and balance tire
Performed 4 Wheel Alignment

3/30/05
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil
Installed New O Rings
New oil filter
Replaced oil cooler
Replaced 2 axle seals
Installed new alternator

12/3/04
Upgraded headlamp wiring, installed new headlamp switch
Installed Hi/Lo beam Diode, installed new fog lamp switch
Installed new weather stripping
Replaced upper control arm bushings

11/30/04
Performed spot and paint detail, minor touch ups
Refinished exterior door window trim

11/16/04
Replaced Master Light
Replaced Door Seal

8/26/04
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil
Repaired 2 oil leaks

8/24/04
Replaced oil filter

7/26/04
New rear compartment carpet

6/1/04
Complete safety inspection and engine / transmission check

6/1/04
Upgrade modification to current shift cable and reverse inhibitor

5/28/04
Replaced lower control arm bushings
Repair right side axel shaft seal
Replaced Lotus wiper blade
SRS Light check service
Repair rear defrost

12/27/02
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

7/30/02
A/C refrigerant recharged
Front brake pads replaced
Maintenance inspection completed
Rear brake pads replaced

5/30/02
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

9/13/01
Replaced Exhaust
Maintenance inspection completed

7/02/01
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

3/01/01
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

1/03/01
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

8/31/00
Front Brake Rotors re-surfaced

7/28/00
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

4/26/00
Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil
Battery replaced
Chassis lubricated
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Old 03-10-2010, 05:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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check reverse inhibitor by removing the console cover and the leather gaitor around the shifter. Make sure the stick can move up and over the inhibitor ok. Try loosening the inhibitor and see if you can get into reverse. Then if that fails, look at where the cables go into the transmission rear housing and see if something looks loose. There is a section in the manual for proper function.

Your 99 has the direct cable shift without a translator, so the adjustment is very straight forward.

Here are my photos of the shifter (it's on an 89 so it won't be the same as yours).
http://picasaweb.google.com/lotusse/LotusShifter#
the rear of the transmission will be totally different, since you have no translator, and your cables go in the other side of the rear housing.
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Old 03-10-2010, 07:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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try Ferarri?
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Old 03-11-2010, 03:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's great you are keeping a good history on your car. You should also keep track of the mileage at each service. From the history it seems your car has had "issues" with shifting in the past. Trouble shifting is one of the symptoms of a worn-out clutch. Just because it was done in '05 doesn't mean it can't be worn out. Time and mileage is not the greatest predictor of wear for a clutch and it can't be properly inspected without removing it. If you can you get into reverse when the motor is off the clutch is most likley gone. That clutch is gonna cost you. The friction plates (there are two!) pressure plate, intermediate plate, and throw-out bearing is in the area of $2K. The flywheel (from Lotus) is about $1K (if you need it and your old one can't be ground), flywheel bolts, pilot bearing and labor and this is going to be expensive. I would also recommend you have the transmission opened and inspected since you have to remove it to get to the clutch. At that mileage it is cheap insurance. The reason a worn-out clutch prevents you from getting into reverse is because reverse does not have any syncros so if the clutch won't fully release, the transmission is still turning inside. Try JAE for the parts, they have better prices than Lotus.
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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David,

I wouldn't be so sure it's the clutch as he says it won't go in reverse with the engine off once it's warm. I first thought it could be the clutch binding on the input shaft but that should affect more than just reverse. Also, Are you sure the V8 gearboxes don't have a reverse synchro, I was under the impression that they did.

Linkage/shifter issues are likely suspects as Travis said.

I would also rule out hydraulic problems as well by doing a complete flush/bleed and making sure the master and slave cylinders are working properly.

If nothing turns up in the linkage or hydraulics then it's time to pull the gearbox and have a look.
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Old 03-12-2010, 05:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Reverse doesn't have syncros. You should be able to shift into reverse with the car off and not depressing the clutch at all but there will be times when the teeth are exactly out of mesh so rock the car in gear then try again. Most likely it's in the reverse lock out so as suggested remove the surround around the shifter and make sure the lift up for reverse mechanism is working correctly - it sounds like it's not lifting enough. I hope it's this as it's the easiest to fix. It could be a lot of other things but this is where I'd start.
Other things could be a bent slave to clutch rod or a bent clutch fork. Sometimes problems show up in reverse gear first even though the forward gears work properly.
I don't think it's a worn clutch but you can check by driving car in 3rd gear, keep gas depressed about 1/2 way, push clutch in then release. RPM's should immediately return and not "drift" back.

Last edited by billt; 03-12-2010 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 03-12-2010, 05:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Since he says it's temperature related I don't think it's the reverse gate. The way to find out would be to just disconnect the cables and try right at the transmission to shift into reverse. At that point if he still can't get it into reverse it's all coming out, the clutch, and the transmission and then he will find the problem. In many cases a single problem can have several sources. For instance, the linkage adjustments can be off a little, the clutch can be worn, and the transmission can have internal problems. Add them all up and the result is hard shifting. Another possability is a problem in the clutch hydraulics. If the brake fluid has a high moisture content, when it heats up it becomes a pneumatic system and will not fully disengage the transmission. That begs the question, in the history I did not see a typical "A" service, ie, was the brake system and the clutch system flushed yearly? What about the front bearings? Is that included in the "Lube oil and filter service"? There is a whole lot more to an "A" service than just dumping the motor oil and replacing the filter!
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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One clue if it's in the hydraulics is to see how much free play you have in first gear. You should have several inches before it grabs. If the clutch grabs with the clutch almost fully depressed you'll need to bleed the system - a little air bubble or moisture can cause a lot of trouble.
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The mention that it is temperature related doesn't necessarily mean that it is hydraulic...
The shift cables are also affected by heat as the engine and transmission grow.
Also if the cables are not properly constrained, then the mechanical energy is wasted in the movement of the cables.

I would start with the simple easy things like the reverse inhibitor and the shift cable adjustment before removing the transmission.
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