Can you shift a rebuilt manual transmission without oil?

Just bought a rebuilt manual transmission without a drop of oil. But if it's a good rebuild, it should have been greased properly, so in theory you should be able to test shift it without adding oil, right? Just as you should be able to turn over a rebuilt engine without oil.

The reason I'm asking is because I just installed a rebuilt transmission, and I am unable to shift it into gear. Haven't started the truck, haven't added gear oil. I don't want to get any further into the process if the rebuilt transmission is dud.


Just as you should be able to _manually_ turn over a rebuilt engine _by hand_ without oil.*

Update 2:

The reason I think the transmission might possibly be a dud is because I bought it off eBay, the seller didn't have much of a reputation. But it was $800 compared to the normal $1400. He used a good heat resistant spray paint, there are signs of good lubrication (blue grease in the relevant places), so I assumed it was a good rebuild. But without opening it up, there's no good way to tell. I don't want to put too much force on the shifter.

Update 3:

The transmission is a dud. In addition to not shifting out of neutral, the propeller shaft is seized in place, and misaligned (cant insert the propeller in all the way). So looks like I'll be removing and sending it back for a refund.

12 Answers

  • don r
    Lv 7
    2 months ago
    Best Answer

    There is no reason a good manual transmission would be unable to shift while static. You missed the chance of shifting it before installation- which it should have easily done. Do not try running this vehicle with a dry transmission. Looks like you need to pull it down and exchange it.

    • John2 months agoReport

      My guess, as a total layman, is that maybe he used a bit too much sealant between the rear housing and the bell housing, so the rear housing (that holds the output drive and what not) is misaligned by a couple thousandths of an inch. Would explain why the prop shaft wont slide in all the way.

  • In
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    Are you sure the shift linkage is installed correctly?

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago


    How does a transmission work? The input shaft rotates. Did you rotate the input shaft and then try to shift? Also a vice grip is not as long as a shifter stick so much leverage is missing. If it is a fresh rebuild, it is going to be stiff.(that is what happens with NEW STUFF).

    "I don't want to get any further into the process if the rebuilt transmission is dud." Like the other end is going to waste their time mailing out DUDS?

    The reason it is dry inside is because they don't ship it with lubricants because lubricants can leak out. Even brand new, they are dry ...because in shipping it may be stuck upside down for a week as it comes via slow boat from China. Upside-down means all the lube would go out any vent holes...even at the rate of a drop an hour is a heck of a lot of oil on other mail. So they go out dry. For some of that mail could be winning lottery checks...or drug money for certain cartels, or your street drugs. So mail worth a hell of a lot more than a transmission.

    . The blue lube is not GEAR OIL. But you know it has been cleaned up and inspected and certain points got lubed that normally never get any lube so they checked "or would not have wasted the grease and time on it" PARANOID SHOULD ONLY GO SO FAR.

    Break down buy the correct gear oil and put in the right amount. and then slap it together.

    Your reputation as a trusting buyer also stinks.

    .Sometimes you got to be dumb sheeple.

    • Anon2 months agoReport

      Oughta report you for copying my post.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    It Will shift. Try rotating input shaft . In the vehicle, unless getting in 1st or reverse, remember, the shafts are All Turning? And, If you are simply grabbing a shaft to the fork;, Remember, a long shifter is connected to it when Installed? Leverage? (Puhleeze; Don't grab it with Vice Grips--?!!!)

    Do NOT install and try to drive w/o oil. You must be a troll. You prelube an engine to prevent that wee bit o'wear when timing it, by hand. And until Oil up to pressure. Not to :"drive it without oil". You won't get 50 yards.

    Your "rebuilt tranny" has grease at the New seals, as should be. A good sign to use that blue Boat and Trailer waterproof grease. If it's a truck; very good chance you will be launching boats and get it wet.

    Heatproof paint? How do you know? A manual shouldn't get hot, anyway. Many heatproof paints won't even cure under 500 degrees, and remain soft if not cured.

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  • 2 months ago

    If you bothered to install the transmission without test shifting it, putting in transmission fluid isn't even a MINOR additional cost OR time.

    Asking this question suggests YOU have no business behind the wheel of ANY vehicle, and that comes from someone that learned everything I know about driving a manual transmission from Yahoo Answers.

    • Anon2 months agoReport

      Cant tell a troll when you see one?

  • 2 months ago

    If you've already done the work to install the transmission, then adding oil isn't really that much extra work.

    Give it a shot.

  • Anonymous
    2 months ago

    < the seller didn't have much of a reputation >

    Some people amaze me.

    • John2 months agoReport

      It's a risk-benefit analysis. eBay has a 100% money back guarantee. So either I get lucky and save nearly $600, or I get unlucky and have to return the transmission at the seller's expense. Worst case, I just wasted a lot of time and effort, and maybe $10 in supplies.

  • Dan
    Lv 4
    2 months ago

    You should be able to shift it. If you're absolutely sure your linkage is connected correctly then it sure sounds like a problem in the tranny to me.

    • John2 months agoReport

      No linkage, it's an inline transmission. But yeah, the problem was the transmission

  • JetDoc
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Sometimes the gears need to be turning before they will shift between gears. Try rotating the input shaft by hand. Don't try to drive it without the correct amount of gear oli.

  • 2 months ago

    A good rebuilder will have oiled the parts as it is assembled and it is usual to test the operation before installing it into the car. Usually you'd need to rotate the input shaft to do this. All you can do now, apart from uninstalling it, is add the oil and try it in situ.

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