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1990 Ford Ranger 5 speed manual lost first gear


New Member
Ham Radio Operator
Apr 20, 2024
Reaction score
Mesa, AZ
Vehicle Year
Make / Model
Ford Ranger
Hello! Seeking some wisdom from you wise folks.

Just recently bought a1990 Ford Ranger XLT 4x4 with x68000 miles (x because idk how many times it has rolled over... the interior is in good shape so my guess is 168000), it has the Mitsubishi 5 speed manual (I think that's who made it) with the drain plug on the bottom of the 'oil pan' of the transmission. Pretty interesting no doubt.

Anyhow, the transmission was great for a few days after getting it, but then it became really loud. Pretty much all of the gears are super noisy, especially 2nd and 3rd, and when it is in neutral and my foot off the clutch it sounds like it's growling. I think the syncrogears are bad. But that's not my purpose in this.

I had to get a new driveshaft because it wasn't in the truck anymore for some reason. So I got one from a junkyard, had it fixed up good at a driveline shop, installed it. While doing the install, I thought to myself, "it would be good to change the fluids in the t-case & transmission" to see if new fluid would help it be quieter. It did not help. About 150 miles of freeway driving later, I slowed down to do some city driving, and suddenly I couldnt shift into 1st, 3rd, or 4th. There wasn't any loud noises or grinds made, it just wouldn't let me push the stick into gear at all. Then after rolling in reverse for a few feet, i could get into 2-5 (3 & 4 were really stiff to get into). So I drove it another 150 miles like this. Then I parked overnight, and in the morning, 2nd-5th felt like usual (the stiffness in 3 & 4 went away) but 1st is still not letting me in.

I put 80-75w gear oil in (
if my memory serves me right, I don't have the fluid here in front of me). I also put some fluid additive that was supposed to help quiet the transmission down (I think this is the culprit to be frank). So now I don't have 1st gear. But all the others seem to work like they did before.

I have a replacement transmission I also got from a junkyard. I don't want to replace the transmission yet. But this might be bringing me to that point. Any recommendations for what might have happened? Or what I can try to bring 1st gear back?

Otherwise, I am also wondering if there is anything I should consider doing while I drop the transmission. I
want to do the engine main seal because I think there's a small leak there. But anything else that should absolutely be done while I'm down there?

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