Why Your Car Won’t Shift Gears Common Causes and Solutions

Learn why your car won't shift gears and discover common causes like transmission fluid issues, clutch failure, and shift lock release problems. Get expert advice and instant solutions at Auto Advisor Online.
Why Your Car Won’t Shift Gears Common Causes and Solutions

Why Your Car Won’t Shift Gears Common Causes and Solutions


  • Transmission fluid issues
  • Malfunctioning shift lock release
  • Clutch failure
  • Torn shift linkage wire
  • Bad torque converter
  • Failed clutch packs
  • Misaligned gearbox

Common causes for gear shift problems

Transmission Fluid Issues

The primary reason a car won’t shift gears is often related to the transmission fluid level. If the transmission fluid is too low, it may be due to a leak. Conversely, excessive fluid can cause trouble shifting gears and gear slippage. Transmission fluid lubricates moving parts and ensures smooth operation. Dirty or burnt transmission fluid can also prevent proper gear engagement.

How to Fix This Issue:

  • Check the transmission fluid level and quality. Dirty fluid will appear blackish and smell burnt. Replace the fluid if needed. For more detailed instructions, visit our online diagnostic tool.

Malfunctioning Shift Lock Release

In automatic transmission cars, the shift knob locks when parked until the brake pedal is pressed. If the shift lock gets stuck, it can prevent gear shifting. Most cars have a shift lock release switch near the shifter, which can be accessed using a small screwdriver or key.

How to Fix This Issue:

  • Bypass the shift interlock solenoid by starting the vehicle, keeping pressure on the brake, and shifting into reverse or drive. Detailed instructions are available in our guide for shift lock issues.

Clutch Failure

In manual transmission cars, the clutch pedal uses hydraulic fluid to engage the clutch. Leaks in the master cylinder can cause the clutch to stop functioning, preventing the car from shifting gears.

How to Fix This Issue:

  • Consult a professional mechanic to diagnose and replace worn components, ensuring proper clutch operation. For more information, check our clutch troubleshooting guide.

Torn Shift Linkage Wire

Wires and cables can get pinched or ruptured due to friction against sharp metal edges. If the linkage cable to the clutch is broken, the car won’t shift gears.

How to Fix This Issue:

  • Inspect the linkage cables for breaks and ensure all components are securely connected. You may need to replace damaged parts. Consult a mechanic for a thorough inspection and repair.

Bad Torque Converter

In automatic transmissions, components like the pump, stator, and turbine in the torque converter can fail, causing gear slipping and preventing shifting.

How to Fix This Issue:

  • Fixing a faulty torque converter requires professional expertise and specialized equipment. Consult an auto expert for repairs.

Failed Clutch Packs

In automatic transmissions, clutch pack issues can prevent the car from shifting gears. Symptoms include transmission slippage and difficulty moving the car after stopping.

How to Fix This Issue:

  • A skilled mechanic should replace the clutch pack, ensuring uniform wear and quality across components. Visit our repair services for expert help.

Misaligned Gearbox

Manual transmissions are more prone to misalignment issues, which can lead to gear failure. Misalignment may result from thermal expansion or fluid imbalances.

How to Fix This Issue:

Gear Issues FAQ’s

Why does my car jerk when shifting gears in automatic transmission?

Jerking can be due to low or dirty transmission fluid, slipping clutch packs, or engine ignition problems. Consult an AT specialist for diagnosis and repair.

Why does my car turn off when I switch gears?

A broken torque converter can cause the car to shut off when switching gears, as the vehicle cannot maintain power at low speeds or idle.

Why is my automatic transmission not changing gears?

Issues with the engine control module, bad internal connections, worn sensors, or faulty solenoids can prevent gear shifting. Have your car checked by an experienced mechanic.

My car won’t move in gear in automatic transmission. Why?

  • Worn clutches or a stuck transmission gear can make the transmission unresponsive. Consult a mechanic to diagnose and repair the issue.

For more detailed information and instant solutions, visit Auto Advisor Online.


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