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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
HI all,

Enjoying my 3rd summer with my 1994 S4 currrently, but was wondering if someone could help...

The car is hard to get into reverse. Particularily when warm. There is a lot of grinding when trying to get it engaged. I try to put it in reverse prior to starting whenever I can, but obviously can't always do it that way.

Anyway, is there an external adjustment that can be made or is it most likely an synchro issue I should look deeper into during the winter.

Car has had the red cable linkage upgrade. And no grinding in any forward gears.

Thanks
 

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Normal technique is to put the trans in 2nd gear first to align the teeth, then reverse. That said if you are getting grinding, there is a new clutch in your future. Unlike most cars, as the Esprit clutch wears it does not fully release when depressed.
 

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there is no synchro on reverse on the 4Cyl cars, and the V8 only has a brake to stop the motion to help get into reverse. I usually go into 1st then reverse. But as carsalesman said, could be a clutch, but it could also be that you need to bleed the clutch hydraulics and check the mechanical adjustment to make sure it is set to spec and the fork is moving the correct distance.
 

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Flush and bleed the clutch hydraulics. Check the shift linkage for any worn, loose parts. Check the shift linkage adjustments. Drain and refill the transmission with the correct oil. If all of this doesn't improve your shifting, you will be replacing the clutch. You should not have to shift into 1st to get into reverse and you should NEVER try to shift into reverse if you are moving. There are NO syncros for reverse. If you have a problem you typically see it when you try getting reverse before you have any problems shifting into other gears. Get it fixed quickly. Grinding and forcing shifts is very hard on all of the expensive parts inside the transmission!
David Teitelbaum
 

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I have a '94 S4 also. I assume you are lifting on the little tab under the shift knob before going to R (and, as everyone noted, first go into 1st or 2d gear ... then lift and go to R).

I have never had a problem like this. When my clutch started slipping, my symptoms were 5th gear engine roar/spike, not gear grinding.
 

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My 88 Esprit will do the exact same thing, but I can almost predict when it will grind into reverse. I have been driving the car alot and it has been very reliable, but mine grinds once every 5-6 times after I start it cold to back out of my garage, and it will grind every time if I try to quickly pull into a parking spot, but then have to reverse quick to then go back forward into it, its actually kinda embarassing as everyone around can see this bright yellow exotic car, then the gears grind. Its like something back there is still spinning way way fast but should of disengaged when going into reverse, nothing I do will stop it from spinning and grinding it seems. I just try not to do that parking spot K turn kinda thing and its fine. My car has a newer clutch, and my hydraulics are new and bled out. Usually backing out of places when its warm is fine. I look at it as thats the price I pay for getting a super car thats "cost effective" LOL. The transmissions are notchy, but wow is this car smooth to look at.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all so far.

I did replace the gearbox oil last summer. The car did this on the test drive when I bought it so it has been an issue prior to me having it.

The PO said the clutch had just been bled, so obviously the clucth itself is our leading candidate.

Thanks.
 

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Although it is very likely the clutch is shot you would kick yourself if you did not rule out all of the simple, inexpensive possibilities first. It is possible the clutch hydraulics were never properly bled of air.
David Teitelbaum
 

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My clutch periodically grinds going into reverse too. The second to first to reverse trick works perfectly. I think my clutch may be getting to the end of life though.
 

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This is an Esprit.

I would not use the transelixir (Redline + ford synchromesh)

Lotus recommends Castrol TAF-X only, though others have had good results with other gear lubes. I use Mobil-1 75w90, but my friend used Redline. My gears never pop out, but his often does... is it the oil? probably not, he drives his much harder on track, though his car has a small fraction of the miles that my Esprit has...

Grinding going into revers has nothing to do with oil in the gear box! Reverse doesn't have a synchro, and reverse on the 89-95 S4s does not have a brake.

All that is required to get into reverse is good hydraulic travel, good clutch dis-engagement, and proper shift cable adjustment.

There is also the reverse inhibitor that can wear and make it difficult to get into reverse. In that case it is more likely to select 2nd instead.

This S4 has a plastic reverse inhibitor block on the shifter, which is less likely to wear than the 89SE, but I could see it being possible.

This is my 89, the S4 is a bit different.
This is the reverse inhibitor block and the plastic bushing on the shifter that slides on the inhibitor.

They tend to wear each other down


I machined mine smooth and adjusted it so I could easily get into reverse with the locking ringk pulled up, and easily slide between 1st and 2nd with the locking ring down.
 

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A worn reverse block will make it difficult to get into reverse but shouldn't cause the gear grinding. Go through the hydraulics as mentioned above, flush and bleed and then look to the clutch.
 

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Another thing I had forgotten to mention is I dont know how the 89 and up cars are, as I think they maybe slightly different how the shifter actuates the transmission with the cables, but on my 88 it uses a cable and a heavy rod setup. When I bought the car the cable was shot, water had gotten in it and seized it up big time, I managed to find a new one on Ebay and now the car shifts great except for the reverse issue I noted above. I think I read the 89 and up cars have two cables. But its pretty easy to determine if its a shifter problem or something back in the engine bay, just start the car and maybe go for drive with the shifter gaiter (boot) off and see what the shifter is doing when you go for reverse, you can acutally see if the shifter is lifting up when going into reverse then dropping back down coming into the forward gears. I way over lubed my shifter thinking it was the problem before pulling that cable and finding out it was pretty sluggish due to rust inside it.
 

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A worn reverse block will make it difficult to get into reverse but shouldn't cause the gear grinding. Go through the hydraulics as mentioned above, flush and bleed and then look to the clutch.
On my car the reverse inhibitor was so worn, the shifter would catch and made it very difficult to complete a shift smoothly, since the stick couldn't make it all the way and move the shift fork into the gear detent. The stick would go as far as it could , but it wouldn't be engaged, and you'd get a grind.
 

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Another thing I had forgotten to mention is I dont know how the 89 and up cars are, as I think they maybe slightly different how the shifter actuates the transmission with the cables, but on my 88 it uses a cable and a heavy rod setup. When I bought the car the cable was shot, water had gotten in it and seized it up big time, I managed to find a new one on Ebay and now the car shifts great except for the reverse issue I noted above. I think I read the 89 and up cars have two cables. But its pretty easy to determine if its a shifter problem or something back in the engine bay, just start the car and maybe go for drive with the shifter gaiter (boot) off and see what the shifter is doing when you go for reverse, you can acutally see if the shifter is lifting up when going into reverse then dropping back down coming into the forward gears. I way over lubed my shifter thinking it was the problem before pulling that cable and finding out it was pretty sluggish due to rust inside it.
The 88 Citroen transmission and 89+ Renault transmissions are completely different.
 

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On my car the reverse inhibitor was so worn, the shifter would catch and made it very difficult to complete a shift smoothly, since the stick couldn't make it all the way and move the shift fork into the gear detent. The stick would go as far as it could , but it wouldn't be engaged, and you'd get a grind.
I hear what you're saying Travis, but if the clutch is totally disengaged as it should be and the gearbox internals aren't spinning then there would be no grind. And from the OP's original post, he doesn't seem to have a problem getting into reverse with the engine off...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi all,

I took the car out for the first time the other day since starting this post. Using hte 1/2/reverse method made getting into to reverse vastly better.

Obviously something to keep an eye on, but the improvement is welcomed.

Thanks
 

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Also check the rod end adjustments. The original Lotus Rod end parts had a small delrin or nylon inserts to keep the rod end's moving freely, but maintained taughtness, but tend to wear out as mine did. If there is 1mm or more of play at the translator end, the rotation of the shift rod will not be accurate and cause grinding issues into reverse or lack of gear selection.
Artie
 

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Although it is very likely the clutch is shot you would kick yourself if you did not rule out all of the simple, inexpensive possibilities first. It is possible the clutch hydraulics were never properly bled of air.
David Teitelbaum
Agreed - grinding issues can very often be traced back to hydraulics. Clutches usually start slipping when they first begin going bad and you end up replacing it well before the grinding starts, IMO. My car had the master and slave go at about the same time and the car didnt want to go in any gear, let alone reverse!

Replaced both - shifting back to being perfect.

Like David says though, check the easy stuff first :)
 
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