I did once have a car that was just as you are describing and I took a lot of stuff apart to find the cause. I could start the car and drive it just fine, usually getting into fifth on the highway and cruising. Then as I went to downshift, after the car was fully warmed up, I couldn't get out of fifth. I first assumed that it had to do with the transmission case heating up and pinching the fifth fork tube but that was totally not the case. The car's catalytic convertor heat shield was rusted away completely too. The problem was solved by disassembling the shift lever and concentrating on the plastic ball assembly. Evidently tightening the three screws fully home would allow it to move well when the grease on it was cold but once the grease got hot and ceased to act as a lubricant (thanks to the exhaust system below) the plastic ball was bound by friction to it's socket. Sounds nuts but replacing the heat shield and re-greasing the plastic ball is what cured that car. Next time it's bound up try just loosening those three screws and see if it will shift.
posted by 96.60.12...
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