These Are The Worst Manual Transmissions You’ve Driven

A photo of a blue Ford Focus hatchback.

Photo: Ford

“The worst manuals I’ve driven is a tie between two cars… a 1991 Ford Escort with over 250,000km on it and a 2005 Focus with over 250,000km on it.

“For the Escort, the shifter was somewhat sloppy, made odd noises at certain speeds and would sometimes get stuck in 5th gear if you came to a stop with it still in 5th. To get it out, you’d have to rock the car in some fashion while having someone pull on the shifter and it would pop out.

“For the Focus, it was the opposite issue. If you were standing still, it would often be almost impossible to get it into first gear or reverse… especially when cold. So I got into the habit of parking it and shutting it off with it either in 1st or reverse.

“But note that the shifters for both the Escort and Focus are fine when new. They just don’t age as well as the manual transmission you’d find in a Honda.

“And an honorable mention goes to the 2003 Suzuki Aerio I had for a short period that would pop out of 5th gear at certain highway speeds at certain engine loads. And the issue was somthing bad about the design of the transmission where the springs that hold the gear in place were too weak. They had a recall on that which I did… but it didn’t fix the issue completely. Not a big deal. But it would be jarring when it would pop out of gear every so often… and then I’d just put it back in gear and carry on. Someone smashed into my Suzuki and it got written off before I found a resolution to the issue or got used to living with it. Prior to it getting written off, I was thinking of making a custom spring to hold it in gear even more firmly than the replacement OEM spring and see if that would fix the issue. Also tried replacing the transmission fluid, but that didn’t fix it.”

Neither of these sound like fun driving experiences. Do better, Ford.

Suggested by: manwich

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