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The hinges deserve some oil from time to time, but it's the switch's plunger you should clean.

I don't know if it's displayed as manual mode, but a sticking switch will keep it in first gear.
... but it won't display as manual mode.

I can think of only two possible scenarios where it will display 1 on startup.

A. Fluid/corrosion in the manual switch causing it to short out.

B. a dying Primary Pulley Position Sensor (which will most likely display other CVT related symptoms as well.

I'd check for A. first. :cool:
 

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Ok, so much for my stray-voltage on the switch circuit theory. Sorry I overlooked your post, Erik.

Tested what happens if you hold the manual mode button down from before turning the key to ON and then starting it with the button still pressed: It stays in 1, but won't start. (Load-reducing relay kicks in, starter doesn't turn.)
5 minutes ago I performed this test myself on my K8. The result?

The CVT stays in 1 AND the engine starts!

So I think, based on that result, that the inititial focus should be on eliminating the possibility of an intermittent short in the switch.

Craig, the reason I mentioned PPPS failure is because having the CVT display alternate between AUTO and manual 1, 2 was the primary symptom I experienced with PPPS failure 5 years back. I agree, though, that it is not a common symptom AND my PPPS did fail as a result of water entry shorting it out.
 
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