Clunk Noise When Shifting From Park To Drive? (7 Reasons Why)

In most cars, you can expect to have a fairly quiet drive, given that your car is in good condition. However, your car could start making odd noises, especially when you are shifting gears.

You may be wondering why your car makes a clunking noise when shifting from park to drive. I did the research, and here is what I learned!

Clunk Noise When Shifting From Park To Drive?

Typically, a clunk noise when shifting from park to drive will occur because of loose engine mounts, which will move around when you shift gears. Additionally, parking at an incline can be the cause, but it can be a constant problem once your parking pawl is damaged. Moreover, a cold engine and worn-out gears can be the issue.

Do you want to learn about more reasons why your car makes a clunking sound when you shift gears? I made a list of possible reasons below, so read on!

1. Engine Mounts

Firstly, one of the main reasons why your car would make a clunking noise when you shift from park to drive is that you have a loose engine mount.

As you can guess by the name, an engine mount’s job is to mount the engine to your car so the engine will not move around while you drive.

For most cars, the transmission (which will be your gear shift) and the engine will be bolted to each other and kept in place by using three to four engine mounts.

Over time, the engine mounts can become loose as you drive your car more regularly. 

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Moreover, you can get loose engine mounts due to general wear and tear, so the mounts will not be able to effectively secure the transmission and engine.

Since the transmission and motor mounts are connected, you would hear the engine mounts move when you shift your car into drive.

Generally, you will need to have your engine mounts replaced. Otherwise, your engine and transmission could get more damaged or fall out.

2. High Idle

Another common reason why you would hear a clunk noise when shifting from park to drive is that you have a high idle.

High idling, also called rough idling, will happen when your car is in neutral or park, but your engine is revving too quickly.

Typically, high-idling cars would make loud sounds, and in severe cases, your car can shake.

Since your car would already be making loud sounds, shifting from park to drive while you were rough idling can lead to clunking noises.

3. Your Engine Is Cold

Occasionally, having a cold engine can make your car create noises when you shift gears.

A cold engine is a term used to call an engine that has not reached the ideal temperature for driving yet.

Usually, you would only have a cold engine if you had left your car parked for at least a few hours.

As such, a clunking sound would normally occur when you have left your car parked outside and are about to drive it, but you did not wait for it to heat up.

Usually, this problem would go away if you wait a bit longer for your engine to get hotter before shifting into drive.

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4. Parked At An Incline

Parked At An Incline

When you are parked at an incline, the weight of your car will not be evenly distributed as it normally should be.

Even if you park on a fairly small hill, the weight in your car would shift, so shifting into the parking gear would be difficult.

While at an incline, shifting into the parking gear would make your car roll a little bit before you fully shift gears.

So, shifting your car back into drive while you were parked at an incline will likely accompany a clunking sound, but this is usually no cause for concern. 

It is also worth noting that you should avoid parking at an incline when you can since this can take a toll on your parking pawl.

When your parking pawl goes bad, you will frequently hear clunking noises when you shift from park to drive.

If you need to park at an incline, you can use your emergency brake when parking at an incline.

5. Worn Out CV Joints

Your car has CV joints that connect the car’s wheels to the transmission, and worn-out CV joints can lead to clunking noises.

Since the CV joints are in charge of connecting your transmission and car wheels, worn-out CV joints would make you hear clunking noises when you would shift gears.

6. Lack Of Transmission Fluid

If you hear clunking sounds when you shift gears, and it feels rough to shift gears, you are probably low on transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid is a type of oil made for cars to keep the gears lubricated within the gearbox.

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Once you run out of transmission fluid, it will be more difficult to shift gears, and you will likely hear thudding or clunking noises.

While it depends on your car, you need to top off your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles for manual transmission cars and 60,000-100,000 miles for automatic transmission cars.

7. Shabby Gears

Occasionally, the source of the clunking sound could come from the gearbox itself since you would be hearing it when you shift from park to drive.

Your gearbox is made up of various gears to help you drive your car, such as helping it park, drive, etc.

Generally, the gears can get worn out as you would use them each time you drive.

Worn-out gear parts may not fit into the other gears as well as they used to, so they may make odd sounds when you try to shift gears.


Generally, most cars should make little to no noise when shifting gears, so hearing a clunking sound when shifting from park to drive could signal a problem,

Sometimes, you may have no issue with your car if your engine is just cold, but you could have a more serious problem if you have shabby gears, loose engine mounts, or no transmission fluid.

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