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I am considering buying a 1994 Land Rover Defender 90 Diesel imported from Poland with 223,000 kilometres on it. While test-driving it, I noticed a grinding noise when shifting into second gear. The owner says I was shifting too quickly. Any clue as to what it may be? The other gears shifted smoothly. – Tom

I am going to assume that the vehicle in question features a manual transmission. With most manual transmission vehicles, second gear accepts its place in life as the gear that is most often mistreated by clumsy shifting.

The typical manual transmission features an input shaft, output shaft and counter shaft. In order for the driver to execute a gear change, the shafts need to match speeds. As the driver initiates a shift, the clutch pedal is briefly depressed, momentarily disengaging the transmission from the engine and allowing the transmission input shaft to spin freely. Sitting between the desired gear and synchronizer is a blocker ring. The blocker ring slows or "matches" the shaft speeds, allowing the synchronizer to execute a smooth gear change. The blocker ring is made from brass and will naturally wear out over time, exasperated by sloppy shifting techniques. As it deteriorates, it can no longer effectively slow down the shaft and gear grinding will occur when you don't wait that extra moment.

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This particular vehicle has a worn second gear blocker ring and synchronizer. Should you decide to buy the vehicle, you will have to live with it, nursing it into second gear – or have the transmission rebuilt.

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