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The 5-speed manual Fiesta does not have a pilot bearing, so the cause of the difficulty in shifting gears is most likely with the shifter or the linkage.
 

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I have had shifter related issues for the last couple years. The first problem that I noticed was that the shifter would squeak when shifting gears in cold weather. Last Spring, I started having the additional problem that the shifter would intermittently give a lot of resistance. As others have noted, this would typically get worse after several miles of highway driving. Some days it would be very difficult to shift, and other days it would give almost no resistance. One thing that would always cause the problem was if I did not drive the car for several days. For instance, I took a trip to Europe in May/June that lasted for about three weeks. When I picked up my car from the off-site parking facility after returning from Europe, it was very difficult to shift. I ended up having to drive through Newark rush hour traffic with a shifter that was almost impossible to shift. I assumed that the problems that I was having was either caused by the shifter or the shift cable assembly. I purchased both. Later in the summer, I replaced the shifter since it is much easier to replace than the shift cable assembly. This made no difference in shift effort and also did not fix the squeak in cold weather. As Fall approached, I replaced the shift cable assembly. This was a lot more difficult to replace. The cables ride under the heat shield for the exhaust, so you have to disassemble the exhaust to remove the heat shield to get to the cables. Getting the shift assembly bezel out was really tricky. My hands were too big to access it from inside the car. I ended up having to get my wife to help with this since her hands are much smaller than mine. After replacing the shift assembly, the cold weather squeak problem went away, but the intermittent problem with difficult shifting remained. Since this did not fix the problem, I assumed that the problem must be internal to the transmission. About three weeks ago, I changed the transmission fluid. The stiff shifting has mostly gone away since changing the fluid. However, the weather where I live in Upstate New York has also gotten quite a bit colder. Therefore, I'm not sure if the problem is really fixed. My car is currently sitting in the Albany airport. I fly back this Saturday. I'm interested to see how the car shifts when I pick it up. As I stated above, not driving the car for several days would also cause the problem with stiff shifting. This is the first time since changing the transmission fluid that I have let the car sit for several days. I'll give an update this weekend.
 

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After picking up my car at the Albany airport, the shifter was a little stiff when I first drove out. After driving about 40 miles to my home, the shifter became noticeably stiffer, but not excessively stiff. The next day, the car shifted fine. Today, it was fine as I left work but was a little stiff once I reached home. Overall, the shifting is much better since the transmission fluid was changed but is not 100%. I'm interested to see how it shifts in warmer weather. However, it will be several months before it gets warm again here in the Albany, NY area.
 
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