Toyota Tacoma manual transmission pop out of gear? Here's the simple fix!

Picture of Toyota Tacoma manual transmission pop out of gear? Here's the simple fix!
If you have a Toyota truck with a manual transmission with a considerable amount of miles on it, there's a good chance that you suffer from a common problem that these trucks have. Gears that pop out of gear while driving.

I have a 1996 Tacoma that I bought new. In the intervening time, I've put close to 220,000 miles on it. Around 4-5 years ago, 1st and second gear began popping out especially during warm-up. Fearing that the repair for the problem might be extremely costly, I put off the inevitable for several years.The problem grew worse until I found I was holding 3 of the 5 gears in place. After some research, I discovered that the problem is very common on these trucks and to my surprise, the fix was not only inexpensive ( $20) but easy.

In order to perform this repair, you will need a Philips head screw driver and some general purpose grease. The job takes 30 minutes. You will also need to order parts from a Toyota dealer or equivalent. The parts you need are: 1 shift lever seat and 1 shift lever cap. Bring your VIN number as there were slight variations.That's it! So here it goes.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Removing the shift lever to get access to shifter seat.

First, you'll need to get at the screws that hold the rubber boot cover to the transmission tunnel. They are underneath the carpet, so you'll need to pull the carpet back a bit to get at them.The rubber boot is held down with a stamped steel retainer with four screws. Be careful not to lose the screws under the carpet or you'll have to either remove ALL the carpet or find new screws.

The steel retainer was difficult to remove from under the carpet. I had success pulling it out corner first. Once that comes out, the rubber boot easily pops out. Pull up on the boot to get it out of the way so you can get at the shift lever retainer cap. There is a rubber dust cover over the top that easily pops off.
1-40 of 114Next »
leila.figo21 days ago

Oh gee, I am going to have to try this. I have been taking my truck and all my cars to the same guy for 20 years and I trust him so. It is popping out of third and fourth gears and he told me to take it took him that it might be a little problem. After looking at it, he said the problem was deep in the transmission and I needed a rebuild. He does not work on transmissions although he only works on Toyotas. So he stands nothing to gain from the rebuild. I would hate it if he is wrong on this, but I will just have to try it. I will let you know how it goes. I am not mechanical at all but you made it look very simple. Thanks.

I followed this process with my 98 Tacoma pushing 162,000 miles. It took a few choice words, along with my so having the proper tools to remove the retainer cap. Shifting is very smooth and no longer pops out of third or fifth gears. This is definitely a two person job. Don't remember when I was so happy to spend $31.33. Thanks for the great info.

sh212501 month ago

Thanks for the info. My 1999 Toyota Tacoma started popping out of gears about a month ago, especially gears 1, 3, and 5. I ordered the parts from Marlin Crawler and installed them this morning. With help from a friend it took us about an hour to do the replacement. The hardest part is getting the retainer cap free. We used some WD-40 and screwdrivers to compress the spring and turn the cap. We weren't sure if it was going to come loose, but it did! I think dirt accumulates in that area and makes it hard to compress the spring and rotate the cap. So my recommendation is to use plenty of lubricant to help free it up. The replacement parts and reassembly went very easy. The transmission is shifting very smoothly now, with no popping out of gears. Thanks again for the posts. I spent $30 to fix it vs probably $200 to $300 or more if I had taken it in to the shop.

davesan11 month ago

1993 pickup was sometimes jumping out of 4th and (less often) 3rd gear. Did the fix and all is well. Thanks for the info! However, now it grinds a little bit when I go from 4th to to 5th. It never did this before. Anyone else had the same problem?

For future readers help I also made a simple tool to replace the repaired shift assembly very easy (typically the toughest part of the job). The tool can be easily made using a suitably modified plastic irrigation pipe joiner (< a dollar in Home depot) and a saw (metal or wood) along with a vice of some sort to hold the part whilst sawing. Takes about 5 minutes and is reusable. Will post a write up along with a few pics. shortly and hopefully make the job easier for future readers wanting to fix the same problem.

EricB51 month ago

Very handy reference, thank you! I did the repair 9/6/14 on my 1995 T100 2WD V6. I was having probs with shifting and most gears not seating properly, and the shifter randomly popping out (mostly when starting in a gear). I ordered a shifter ball seat and a bushing (socket) from Marlin Crawler and they worked great (

As others have commented, getting out the shifter was a pain!! I ended up using a 22mm box wrench to press down on it (using the open end), and had a helper with a screwdriver & hammer gently tap on the lip of the cover to get it to turn. I had also sprayed some silicon to help loosen it up. I also found that removing the carpet was pretty much a necessity to get to the screws...perhaps this is unique to the T100, but I couldn't see any other way to get things out and back without ripping the carpet.

As others have commented, the plastic seat for the shifter ball on my truck was just crumbling pieces of plastic. I twisted up a small shop towel and put it down the center to help avoid getting pieces down the shaft while I pulled out fragments and cleaned it up. A dramatic difference after finishing the repair! I could easily tell shifting was back to 'normal' (for a 20-year old truck) and have no more popping out of gear. Even the guy at Marlin Crawler didn't know if this would fix the problem, but it surely did.

Many thanks for the manual transmission info. Because of this forum I saved tons. The local dealership's parts guy told me that i needed to purchase the whole shifter with bushing already in place, for $275.00. A local parts dealer has the bushing repair kit for $29.99. 45 mins start to finish. And it really works! Thanks again!!!

sgskinny2 months ago


I just wanted to say thank you for making this posting. I am sure it saved me a ton of money and a lot of headaches. After reading some of the other comments I purchased the ball seat and lever socket from Marlin Crawler (Part #'s MCTM-522 & MCTM-532) for my 1994 Toyota pickup. Your instructions were right on the money. My only issue was getting the retainer cap back in. I could get it pushed down but found it difficult to turn it to lock it back in place. After some swearring and sweating I got it. Thanks again for helping so many with this issue.

Toolwizard5 months ago

I just finished following these instructions and the out come is awesome. One hint that will save time is to notice in step 2 the shift lever is centered with the spring housing. The housing only clears the ball on the end of the shift lever by .001" per side. The fact the my lever seat was completely worn away caused the ball to be misaligned with the cup. While pressing down on the spring housing move the lever slightly in the center of the cup and when the mating parts line up the spring housing will compress easily.

Note: Shift lever retainer cap = spring housing.

jhentr5 months ago

Thank you for the instructions and hints and tips from everyone.

I would like to contribute my hint and tip.

First, I got my parts from from Redlands Toyota in Redlands, CA (~$19.50). The parts guy behind the counter was able to recite the two part numbers by heart when I ask him for the shift level and cap (wow...he must get a lot of request for them)! Truck is 1999 Toyota Tacoma with 150,000 miles. The grinding/hard getting into 4th and the popping out of 5th gear started a week ago.

Anyways, my first night's attempt was a failure. After 1 hour of fiddling with it with hammer, needlenose pliers, screwdrivers, pushing down on it, oiling it, WD-40, etc- it wouldn't budge. I gave up and called it a night.

I then tried again the next night. Somehow after a while, I somehow tapped it with a hammer and piece of wood straight down on the cap. It seemed to move down 2-3mm. I thought that was progress Then I hit the cap with the stick of wood and a hammer again at an ~30 degree angle at the "4 o'clock" position counterclockwise - and what do you know - it started moving. After a minute, the cap was off!

Hope this will help others in need (if other methods failed). I think the spraying of WD-40, oil, tapping it downwards and then from and angle helped loosened it up.

Once I got it off, I carefully put a wipe down the hole so none of the pieces of broken plastic would fall into the tranny? I used my shop vac to suck all the tiny pieces and then greased the new washer and ball of the shifter and reinstalled. Now my shifting is as good as new.

foxinsox7 months ago

I just did this today in my 91 pickup, and it is SO SATISFYING to drive now. WOW. as with everyone below, the damn spring & cap were a huge pain to get through, and I scratched mine up some biting into it with pliers, but after much perserverence (and cursing) it finally popped up, and it was easy-peasy from there.

and now my truck is like BUTTAH! buttah that shifts neatly and doesn't pop out of gear. $25 and a couple hours of time. hoo freakin' ray.

AzRaven8 months ago

Great thread here. I have a 1990 4x4 with 42,000 miles It started popping out of 4th 2 weeks ago, followed closely by 3rd. When I first read this thread I was overjoyed, thinking this was a done deal. Well, like others I found that removing the cap was a bit more challenging than anticipated. Unlike others, the rubber gasket was fine but the green plastic bushing was crushed. I bought a second set because I don't know how much longer Toyota will make these spares. I think they are only required to make parts for 20 years.

The spring pushing up on the cap does not push down evenly. Access to the cap is from the front side and pushing down on the cap in the front makes the spring push the cap up on the back. I tried to reposition the spring, but the friction was too great. After trying the various methods and tools suggested above, I decided to make a tool.

I took a short length of 1x1 square steel tube. I cut a notch about 1/4 deep and about 5/8 inch long at one end, then made two parallel cuts along the edge, just inside of the inner wall of the tube. use a set of pliers to work the tongue back and forth until it breaks. File the edges smooth.

This tool compresses the inner spring while pushing down on the cap. I used a visegrip to turn while I pushed down.. You need to put it into neutral ( parking brake please....) in order to do this. All you need is a hacksaw and a file to clean up the edges. It took about 5 minutes to make this tool.

If you have a center console, I put photos of the location of the screws and bolts. I also included a photo of some useful things: a magnetic tray to put screws in and a type of screwdriver that will hold the screw on the screwdriver. Nice things if you have them and inexpensive if you don't.

TrueStory9 months ago

A huge thanks to this site and all others here!!!! My 94 Toy started popping out of first gear every once in a while, On 4/15/2003 I took my truck to a Toyota ONLY specialist for this same problem. Shop fixed it, bill was $38 parts and $150 for labor, still have repair bill. No problem, I was happy to get it fixed. I had 136,293 miles on it then.

Last week I drove my truck to repair shop for same issue. I was told that most likely it was my transmission. I did some Google-ing and found this site. Drove truck to dealer, bought parts, replaced them myself. Cost for parts, Seat Sub-Assy $16.86, Bushing Shift Lever $7.51, and Boot Shift Lever $11.68. The ONLY issue I had was with "Shift Lever Cap". I could not press down to twist. I used a 7/8 open wrench, as suggested here, tapped it with a rubber mallet and worked like a charm. My old "Seat Sub-Assy" was all crumbs except for 2 pieces. One was no bigger than quarter inch. I cleaned up area, applied grease and reassembled. I could feel the difference even before I started my "Dusty". Drove around and just like new.

2/01/2014, I now have 244,874 on original clutch, just barely replaced original starter this last October, no engine work.

Dusty: 1994 2WD, V6, still have original floor mats on it, Awesome truck.

boogaloid9 months ago

Replaced the seat and bushing today with the help of my mechanic. A little more tricky that advertised, especially the re-installation of the metal cap that is above the spring. With that said.....worked like a charm! Went with the Marlincrawler bushing which was $20 including shipping. Thanks for the is thread....saved me hundreds of dollars!

stampday10 months ago
I thank u
acth434710 months ago
Thanks for this great instructable. I too have a Toyota truck, 210,000 miles and counting. Almost never needs maintenance, but it started dropping out of 5th gear and then wouldn't go into 3rd all the way. Did some Googling, found this post and soon had the problem identified. I took a picture of it before I vacuumed out the old bushing, what a mess. The new Marlin Crawler bushing did the trick, works really well.
2013-12-03 18.48.32.jpg
dalephill21 year ago
I just bought a 1989 toyota deluxe truck, it was poping out of gear, and wouldnt go into third, i got it home actually bought a new clutch kit 100 dollars, and called many shops to install all wanted 400-600 no parts.. so I was gonna tackle it myself and before doing thought id read up more into it, and came across this site, I thought for 20 dollars how could i not try it since it was doing what most said on here, went down to toyota dealership bought the two pieces 19.75, and it jump into it, after getting the arm lever out i discovered the old gasket was non existent, only the ruber gasket on the bottom was left, put it back together and i was surprised ans all heck, it fricken worked, it shifts like a new truck now.. amazing... just fricken amazing... thanks for the post and info... im still in shock......
bonzaijohn1 year ago
I have a 93 Toyota Pickup that would not go into 3rd gear and after reading this post, I removed my shifter and this was exactly what fixed my issue. I absolutely had no seat left.
Replaced the seat and bushing and all was well with the universe. $35

Thank You!
khurley231 year ago
I have a 2001 Tacoma and started noticing this issue today. I'm not at all handy. Is this something a novice could do? Any extra tips from what you experienced? Thanks for the help!
ssmith1611 year ago
My 1994 Toyota P/U stopped letting me shift into 4th gear.  I was getting around without 4th, but then 3rd gear started to give me a similar issue.  Got 282K 'PROUD' miles on 'her'.  My mechanic dismissed my problem and told me to get a new car.  Met this guy at a party who told me to check the seat/gasket in the gear shift.  Then found your site from Google and with the pictures and the good explanations, I was able to completely remove the 'remnants' of the seat where I found the gasket that still remained.  Greased up the new seat/gasket and pushed the shift lever cap back on and...YOOOHOOO!!!  I got my truck back and all her gears are working.  BTW, removing the shift lever cap was the hardest part of this entire process.  Used 2 small square 1/4 inch stick pieces of wood cut from a floor board of new oak.  Pushed down and then to the left on the 2 corners inside the cap.  NOTE:  When I went to the Toyota parts desk, the guy told me I'd have to buy the whole gear shift for about $200, that they didn't carry that part.  Went to the service desk there instead and got the part number.  It's called a "Seat Sub-Assy", part number 33505-35020.  Costs $18.  Thanks for the help.  Hope this helps someone too!
You do not use any other parts with the plastic Marlin shifter seat, its designed to be a standalone unit.
It worked great for me on my 1994 Toyota 2WD pickup by itself as shown in the installation photos at the Marlin website:
ivinatus1 year ago
Does anyone know if the rubber seal is still needed when replacing the shift lever seat with a marlin after market one. I tore my truck apart and the old seat consisted of about 10 flakes the size of cake sprinkles. I cleaned it all up and put in the new marlin seat without the seal, it helped a bit and the truck does not pop out of first as much but still does sometimes. I tried to re-install the marlin seat with the old seal in place and could not get the cap to twist on. Do I just need to try harder or is the after market seat not designed to use a seal?
I had the pop out of some gears problem and hard to shift with some grinding at times issue recently with my 1994 Toyota 2WD standard bed pickup.
Followed the instructions here and was able to open up the shift lever and sure enough the old green shift seat was almost dissolved into little green bits and goo. Cleaned it all out and replaced with the more durable Marlin Crawler version (uses the white one) and put it back together today. Now it shifts like new again in all gears nice and solid. Cost me about $30 total with the high FedEx shipping they use, but I got it in only one day from when it shipped yesterday. Thanks for the relatively simple and low cost fix!!
mrxixx1 year ago
I just finished this repair on my 01 Tacoma 4WD. Second gear was hard to push in and fourth gear it seemed as if the shift lever was not travelling far enough. On my way to work one day, fourth gear would not engage unless I held the lever down and relesed the cluch. On the same day, the return trip home, 4th would engage, but it would pop out of gear when I released the throttle. I was thinking that the synchro's might need to be replaced.

After reading thie article if you will, I took the shift lever seat assembly and found multiple pieces of plastic or rubber that once were my shift lever seat. After waiting for several days for Toyota to get the parts, I finally got them, and promply put the truck back together.

The shifter feels super solid, there are no gears grinding, it woeks better than I can remember. Great tip!!!!
Thanks for the info-struction. I followed the guide and got it done, with a struggle getting the spring held cap off. Had to have extra hands/strength with that. The was rest was cake.......the seat was oatmeal..........the cap was fine. Got parts from the local Toyota dealer, put it together and it shifts like new now. Amazed at the Toyota dealers estimate of $$$ to fix, and of the local mechanics who knew nothing of this fix. They really have the uninformed public at their mercy. Thanks for your service.
ianlebov2 years ago
Last Sunday I knew there was a problem with my tranny on my 1990 toyota pickup. It was slipping out of gears and barely going into gears.
I read this instructable Sunday night, ordered the parts on Monday and installed them last night. It fixed the problem 100%.

I am a mechanical engineer and the job took me 3 hours from opening the tool box to closing the tool box.

Like others, it was very difficult to compress the retainer cap thing. I ended up un bolting the whole assy from the top of the tranny, 6 bolts. I had to get under to truck to do this.

Then I used a dentist pick to scrape out the old seat and seal from the bottom of the shifter assy. After I got a lot of the old crumbly seat out, the retainer compressed easily and I was able to twist it in place with two needle nose pliers.

I was not able to install the Marlin Crawler seat with the seal that was originally installed so I left the seal out. I read some comments that suggested that was the thing to do. It worked fine when assembled so I guess it's ok
zoecloe2 years ago
Many thanks to you!!! I am a woman and I did this, followed the steps, and now my 97 Toyota shifts like new!!! The shift lever seat was dissinigrated!Finished in about 20 minutes I am sure a shop would have seen me coming, and said that I needed a new clutch, or tranny. I feel very empowered.
I just got finished replacing the soft parts at the base of the shift lever in my 1995 Tacoma. I was aware the transmission would pop out of gear when the parts wore out, but I didn't know which parts they were until I found this article. A friend and I recently (in mid-January) replaced the clutch and had to remove the shift lever to get the transmission out of the way and had plenty of fun with the retainer cap then. If only I'd thought to fix this at the same time. Oh well... After trying without luck to get the shift lever retainer cap out last night, I came up with an idea that made it much easier. Thinking the problem might be friction between the retainer cap and the sleeve it fits in, I added a drop of motor oil to the gap between the two. I then inserted the jaw end of a pair of channel locks into the hole around the shift lever, pushed down a bit and turned counter-clockwise. The retainer cap was out with little effort in a few seconds. 15 minutes later, I was reinstalling the shifter boot. The transmission shifts better than ever!

The love affair continues...

I cannot say enough how much you guys just saved me in cash. My 1994 Toyota King Cab V6 4x4 just started slipping out of 3rd and 4th. I guess it's felt a little strange going into those gears for a little while, but didn't really think much about it. Thought maybe the clutch needed adjustment, but it never gave me much trouble until I got back from a long road trip the other day and then it started popping out of 3rd and 4th when going slow.

I called around and all the shops said clutch or tranny. I found your (this) blog and figured I'd at least give this a shot. The parts cost me $19.79 total.
Taking out that springed retainer was a P I T A!!!! It took two of us, 1 to push it down and another with a screw driver to knock it counter clockwise. Once we opened it, the rest of the job was 15 minutes to finish and driving down the road.

What I found was shocking! There wasn't anything left of that shift lever seat. It was literally ground greased powder chunks!!! Picked out the pieces best I could and put it all back together. It shifts like a brand new truck. No slippage!!! I couldn't have done it without the great photos and tutorial!!! Thank you!!!
F1shermark12 years ago
Removing the retainer cap is best accompjished using a short 1/2" x 18" bar clamp, a notched piece of wood about 12" long, a fine tipped chisel and hammer. Unfortunately I did not take pics of the clamp rig I had in place BUT place the clamp on the upper left of the shifter.Tthe screw end is upwards. The bottom has just enough space to finagle into the area between the shifter and body. Place the notched piece of wood on the retainer cap and screw down enough so that the tabs are clear of their retainer of the TABS. Look in there with your light and you will see what I'm talking about. With the hammer and chisel GENTLY TAP the bottom right towards the passenger / front of the vehicle. Tap gently is does not take much and you will see the retainer cap moving in a counter clockwise fashion. From there you are home free.
sting-tify2 years ago
chinhofive0 i got 96 5 speed tacos. im having same problem which is grind going to 3 and forth gear, sometime fifth also. i've changed those those bushing mention on this site. still grinds. But shifting is Excellent!! i was just wondering what you do to your truck get rid of that grind? what is the issue? im gona change trans fluid next, to see if it works.
I would check that the clutch is working properly and the linage is adjusted properly
the clutch is hydraulic. so is it adjustable?
Every vehicle is different but there is usually some kind of adjustment, although it could be there isn't enough pressure ie: slave cylinder is worn. Personally I would buy both a Haynes and Chilton manual for the truck, between them you can do almost any troubleshooting/repair
I am so THANKFUL I found this site. My husband has a small 1993 Toyota truck with 83,000 miles. It started popping out of gear and not one, not two, but THREE different mechanics/transmission shops told him it was a sycronizer and would be a major expense. One was even looking for a used transmission for the truck. I purchased the two parts from the Toyota dealership at less than $20 and it shifts easily now. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU so much for sharing this information and saving us a bundle!
deckarep2 years ago
As of 1/25/2012: I can confirm that this tutorial works!
I successfully fixed my 1999 Toyota Tacoma with the following part numbers:
Part# 33505-35020
Part# 33548-31010

If you are experiencing the same issue you owe it to yourself to try this out first before you take your vehicle to the mechanic and pay at minimum 100.00 bucks for such a repair. And that's assuming they know what's wrong.

1. I bought the parts at Toyota of Glendora, CA for 20.00 total.
2. The Shift Lever Retainer Cap is a B*TCH to take off, I used two needle nose pliers in opposite direction to help get leverage, push down and rotate it counter clockwise.
3. Sure enough, my previous Shift Lever Seat was completely trashed, it basically crumbled upon touching it and i had to take it out in pieces.
4. Job should take 30-45 minutes assuming you don't have any problems.

I hope this helps out someone else as it did for me, thanks for this tutorial!
Thanks for posting this Instructable, it really helped me understand the shifting problems my 1994 Toyota Pickup has been having.

The rubber seat in my transmission was completely destroyed - it was hard to tell that there was ever anything there. I scraped the remaining bits out with a spatula.

I replaced the seat and seal with a delrin one from Marlin Crawler. The shifting on my truck has never felt better.
llecompte2 years ago
This site saved me alot of money & time. I had trouble shifting my 1991 toyota 4x4 truck in fifth gear & reverse . When I looked up this site yesterday I couldn't even get it in reverse . I researched this site , took it apart (which was a breeze) ,got the parts for $15.00 at the toyota dealer and put it back together in about 15 minutes.There was no rubber bushing left.Tried it out & it shifts just like a new truck. Thanks to all of you for your comments & pictures . By the way I'm a 50 yr. old female with mechanical skills ! Got it done, Thanks alot
stash33 years ago
Will this problem solve a grinding in reverse occassionaly and a hard time down shifting shifting from 2nd to 1st? I also have the poping out problem in 4th every now and again iin my 97 4 runner. Every resource I checked an the mechanics said either syncros or clutch. I will go this route first. I would love some input in hopes that this solution will apply to my problem above. Thanks
stjeff03 years ago
This fixed my grinding and slipping I Thank you.
Second it took much longer than it needed too, because I thought I needed to reuse that damn black rubber washer, DOH! After I took it out and put the saddle back in 'Whamo' the retainer cup turned with little effort.
WooHoo I have third gear again :)
tthor13 years ago
they cost 35$ at a Toyo dealer in NJ. Thanks for the instructable!
1-40 of 114Next »