free hit
Help - Can't get into reverse - Gearchange/Gearbox/Clutch - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Help - Can't get into reverse

Recommended Posts


Please let me know what you think is the problem. I have a 1999 Lotus Esprit V8, with 59,000 miles. (USA)

It wont shift into reverse, even if I shift into 1st or 2nd before trying. The shifting into the rest of the gears is fine. The clutch was resurfaced and rebuilt with a new clutch flywheel and clutch pressure plates in 2005, and it feels good, no slipping or anything. The previous owner did force it into reverse once in 2008, and it disconnected the cable, so he had that repaired.

Here is what I have noticed:

Shifting into reverse has gotten progressively worse the last month or so.

I can easily shift into reverse when the car is turned off, and if it the car is cold.

If I drive the car and warm it up, then turn it off, I cannot get it into reverse even with the car turned off.

Here is the cars full maintenance history:


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


Reconnected shift cable and adjust reverse inhibitor bracket


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

Fixed wiring for rear brake lamp


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

Replaced air filters


Installed new SRS dual pole arming sensor assembly

Installed dual pole arming sensor assembly

Replaced AC system Freon charge for ice cold air

Fixed energy reserve voltage


Installed New Idle Speed regulator

Upgraded all 8 new NGK Iridium spark plugs

Replaced Plenum Gasket

Injector cleaner

Installed new Noise Filter

Rear window defog repair kit

Installed Capacitor for clear stereo sound


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

Replaced side marker light switch

Installed new front wishbone

Installed bolt for engine main

Installed new rear main seal

Installed 2 new roll pins

Brake cleaner service

Installed 2 new oil seals, x-shaft LH and RH

Replaced end housing gasket

Replaced bellows

Performed overall vehicle inspection

Installed new drivers door mirror and wiring

Heat-shield fix to prevent AC buzz

Pressure washed engine

Replaced lower control arm transfer ball-joint and bushings

Resurfaced and rebuilt new clutch flywheel and clutch pressure plates

Installed new transaxle shift shaft housing seals

Re-aim and re-set headlights

Adjusted rear hatch for easy proper opening

Repair slight curb rash on 1 wheel, mount and balance tire

Performed 4 Wheel Alignment


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

Installed New O Rings

New oil filter

Replaced oil cooler

Replaced 2 axle seals

Installed new alternator


Upgraded headlamp wiring, installed new headlamp switch

Installed Hi/Lo beam Diode, installed new fog lamp switch

Installed new weather stripping

Replaced upper control arm bushings


Performed spot and paint detail, minor touch ups

Refinished exterior door window trim


Replaced Master Light

Replaced Door Seal


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

Repaired 2 oil leaks


Replaced oil filter


New rear compartment carpet


Complete safety inspection and engine / transmission check


Upgrade modification to current shift cable and reverse inhibitor


Replaced lower control arm bushings

Repair right side axel shaft seal

Replaced Lotus wiper blade

SRS Light check service

Repair rear defrost


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


A/C refrigerant recharged

Front brake pads replaced

Maintenance inspection completed

Rear brake pads replaced


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


Replaced Exhaust

Maintenance inspection completed


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


Front Brake Rotors re-surfaced


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil


Lube Oil and Filter Service, Mobil 1 oil

Battery replaced

Chassis lubricated

Thanks for your help!


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Upgrade today to remove Google ads and support TLF.

Have you tried reding the clutch fluid and checked for air?

Checked for correct adjustment of the slave cylinder?

I've a feeling I've read on here about people suffering from drag on the twin plate clutches caused by the friction plates dragging on the splined shaft. There will be other V8 ownes come on here for sure with more ideas but to me if it shifts ok with the engine off then it has to be clutch drag.

Edited by Simon350S

Chunky Lover

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Howard

I agree with Simon here. It really does sound like Clutch drag. I'm guessing no problem going 1,2,3,4,5 but going into reverse, it really wont like. Even if you get the car into reverse, it will then not really like letting you back into forward gears. Engine off usially no problem though. I'm open to be shot down here, but if its Clutch drag, most likely a new clutch needed.

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk - that will teach us to keep mouth shut!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Probably just shooting in the dark here, but I did not notice the pilot bearing having been replaced along with all the other clutch work in '05. A seized or rough bearing could cause similar symptoms as well. About how many miles do you suspect the clutch has had put on since it was replaced in '05?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Howard,

Recently had similar problems with my 1997 V8, all forward gears select perfectly but reverse was either sometimes there or not. When engine running was near on impossible to select reverse and was also a problem with the engine warm and engine switched off.

Read on the forums about the clutch issues so decided to investigate further.

First it is crucial that the rear selector mechanism is in good order. I changed the joints and adjusted the cables as per the Lotus Service Notes Manual. This improved the situation slightly but still not perfect.

Second - checked pedal for downstop movement but it felt as though I was never getting enough pedal - some clutch drag apparent.

Removed clutch master cylinder and adjusted pedal so that there was more throw on the pedal (removed pedal downstop as not required). Its easier to remove the master cylinder than trying to work with your head stuck in the footwell and quicker than removing steering wheel, seat etc etc.

Situation now is - can select all gears although reverse (engine running or not) is a not perfect but will go into gear if you treat the reverse selection gently. Whatever you do dont jam into gear or lose your temper with it as something will break and that can be expensive.

The other area to check ( assume the system has been pressure bled) is the rear clutch slave pushrod and CRB actuating fork. The fork has some free play which is normal but after several clutch disengagement cycles some wear can be apparent. Also on my car the clutch pushrod was bent.

Would expect with your car having a new clutch its a simple adjustment situation and very much doubt its anything serious.

Hope this helps


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies mates. Everyone was basically correct. It was the clutch. The clutch was never fully disengaging, and it would only go into 1-5 because those of course have synchros. I took it in to Symbolic Motors in San Diego to do the work. It needed a twinplate, flywheel, and spigot bearing.

Now it shifts extremely smooth and goes in all gears perfectly. One thing I liked after I got the new clutch was it was very easy to depress, and I enjoy the easy clutch. Over a few miles, it seemed to stiffen up a bit, so I am wondering if it is a self-adjusting clutch?


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't say "self-adjusting" exactly, but being hydraulic, it will compensate to a degree for wear by allowing more fluid into the slave cylinder to take up slack at the clutch fork as the disks wear. Glad to hear that all if repaired. Just did some clutch work myself and can say I'm more than happy at the end results and can sympathize with the easy pedal. Mine was to the point that my left leg was building up muscle at about twice the rate of my right leg due to the heavy feel of the pedal.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...