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Old 04-28-2017, 07:01 PM   #1
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Default 2013 6MT hard to shift

Hi all,
Long time lurker, first time actually posting a technical question! My wife has a 2013 Sonic 1.4 with the 6MT. As far back as 3 years ago she has had intermittent issues with being able to get it into gear that the dealer has not been able to replicate, but over the past few weeks she has noticed it is consistently becoming difficult to shift into 3rd and 4th particularly, and even when in neutral she is sometimes not able to move the shifter as freely as expected. I was riding with her yesterday and observed the difference first hand at one point where she was able to move the shifter and a few minutes later where in neutral it was still difficult to move. The car has about 80k miles on it, and is completely stock.

Unfortunately I don't drive stick on a regular basis so I'm not the best person to try and replicate the issue, I did have a 5 speed Fiero a few years ago with similar issues that I had concluded was probably a combination of shifter linkage adjustment, needing to switch to a better transmission fluid, and general 80s awful build quality, but never sorted it out before I sold it and don't know how relevant that diagnosis is to a 21st century vehicle anyway. I know that it's outside the bumper to bumper warranty and anything other than an issue inside the transmission itself won't be covered under powertrain, so I'm hesitant to take it to the dealer again between them not being able to replicate issues in the past and the fight we had to go through to get them to fully cover a P0171 code PCV/valve cover replacement under warranty last year. Does this sound like a potential linkage adjustment issue, or are there other things I should consider as well?
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Old 05-04-2017, 08:37 PM   #2
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Hello Commodore_dude,
We certainly understand your frustration. We're sorry to hear that the dealer was unable to duplicate the concern. Intermittent concerns pose quite the challenge when the conditions causing the concern are unknown. Often intermittent concerns don't show themselves when we most want or need them to do so. Much like a doctor needs symptoms to diagnose a condition in a patient, our service technicians need symptoms to diagnose a concern in a vehicle. It's frustrating, but there are some things you can do. If the concern happens again during your dealer's business hours and you can safely drive your vehicle to your dealership for immediate diagnosis, do that, but be sure to keep the engine running once you get there. Do not key off the vehicle. You don't want to turn off the concern before the technicians have a chance to look at your vehicle! You can also take your Service Manager on a test drive in your vehicle & try to trigger the concern yourself, with the Service Manager in the passenger's seat. No one knows your vehicle better than you, and no one drives your vehicle exactly as you do. Taking this test drive gives you the opportunity to try to demonstrate the concern yourself & provide valuable information or clues to the Service Manager. If at any time when you need to make arrangements for another service appointment or you'd like me to document details associated with another intermittent concern occurrence, please feel free to send us a private message.
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Old 05-07-2017, 02:10 PM   #3
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I know my 2015 M32 transmission can be difficult sometimes. It's not uncommon for me to be sitting at a stoplight with the car in 'neutral' (stick out of gear and centered, clutch out) and when I try to shift into 1st on a green light, the shifter refuses to clunk into place and just pushes pack.

The manual states that if this happens, simply put the shifter back in neutral and pump the clutch a few times. Personally, I've formed a habit of punching the shifter lever down into 2nd with my foot depressing the clutch before throwing it forward into 1st and letting off the clutch to move. 90% of the time this prevents 1st from rejecting my attempt to put the car in gear; however, on the odd occasion, usually during cold weather, my trick doesn't work and I am resigned to rowing through all of the gears with the clutch depressed before 1st will cooperate.

Don't know if it's related to your issue or not, but I can understand having to fight your own shifter.
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreenDragon View Post
I know my 2015 M32 transmission can be difficult sometimes. It's not uncommon for me to be sitting at a stoplight with the car in 'neutral' (stick out of gear and centered, clutch out) and when I try to shift into 1st on a green light, the shifter refuses to clunk into place and just pushes pack.

The manual states that if this happens, simply put the shifter back in neutral and pump the clutch a few times. Personally, I've formed a habit of punching the shifter lever down into 2nd with my foot depressing the clutch before throwing it forward into 1st and letting off the clutch to move. 90% of the time this prevents 1st from rejecting my attempt to put the car in gear; however, on the odd occasion, usually during cold weather, my trick doesn't work and I am resigned to rowing through all of the gears with the clutch depressed before 1st will cooperate.

Don't know if it's related to your issue or not, but I can understand having to fight your own shifter.
Have the dealer adjust the cables on the shifter

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Old 07-31-2017, 11:15 PM   #5
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Well, an update. We've been too busy the last couple of months to have the cables looked at, but as of today 3rd gear simply doesn't exist. All other gears are fine, but it isn't physically possible to shift into 3rd. From some digging it seems like this could be a syncro issue other people have had with Sonics and Cruzes requiring the replacement of the transmission, which would still be under warranty at now 84k miles if that is the issue... will keep this thread updated for anyone else having a similar problem.
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:18 AM   #6
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Pop up the shifter boot (carefully), then you can pull the outer center console assembly (that holds the shifter boot) towards you and UP.. That'll pop it out and you'll be able to remove that piece. Under it is a foam shaped piece (noise reducer) that you can then remove. You'll see two cables connected to the shifter. A white one on the left, a black one on the right. Looking down into the center console toward the engine, ensure both are sitting in their cradle. if not, push the offending cable (I'd suspect the black one), into its cradle and reassemble....

Just a thought.
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:48 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tip! We were headed to the dealer after I posted this, wife got a call today that the transmission is toast and on its way to GM. I will definitely get more details about the actual failure.

*Update*
The only details the dealer had for me were that 3rd gear was definitely gone, GM instructed them to install a new transmission and return the old one for analysis. Pretty impressed that this was turned around in 4 days. Also, that would have been a $2800 repair out of warranty, so I'm glad it was kind enough not to wait another 16k miles to fail!
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Last edited by commodore_dude; 08-07-2017 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:50 PM   #8
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Be very observant if you have this transmission replaced under warranty. After getting the car back my wife noticed that the upshift light randomly comes up even in 6th gear, cruise control randomly cuts out, and that there seems to be a delay in clutch engagement when changing gears. After several weeks of fighting to get a courtesy car and have this looked at, within a couple of minutes of having the car they blamed all three symptoms on a worn clutch. There isn't much information online about how the upshift light in this car is driven, but I feel reasonably confident that this and the cruise control issue are related to some sort of sensor, either transmission speed or gear position perhaps (example - Shift Indicator Light on in top gear, ax15 trans - JeepForum.com).

I suppose I could buy that the clutch isn't in its prime past 80k miles, but I do wonder if that was so quickly diagnosed this morning why it wasn't when the car was being test driven after the new transmission was installed. Will keep updating on these issues since I didn't see the first two reported anywhere else.
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:49 AM   #9
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M32's in earlier Sonic/Cruzes are failing left and right mostly due to under-servicing the fluid at the factory that slowly eats the 5th/6th gear bearing. There is a TSB out on this but really the smartest thing to do regardless is to replace the fluid in your new transmission as soon as you can with a quality fluid (Amsoil is highly regarded, as is Pennzoil Syncromesh), and put between 2.2 and 2.5 liters in the box. My box started eating itself around the 70 kilomile mark and was replaced.

As to the clutch, there are so many factors that effect the life of the clutch it's impossible to diagnose the issue. Suffice it to say, there are original clutches out there in this car with well over 100K miles on them. Like brakes, a clutch life is determined on how and how often it is used. It is possible with abuse or bad habit to kill this (and any) clutch very, VERY quickly.
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Old 10-02-2017, 10:27 PM   #10
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Well the dealer came back confident that a new clutch will fix all of the observed issues, however they're asking 50% more for the repair than multiple other quotes I received so we will be taking it to an independent shop I've used for years. I'm wondering if the throwout bearing/slave cylinder should be replaced at the same time while they have the new transmission out?
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