Why Is My Car Stuck In Neutral? (9 Reasons Why)

A component of your car’s powertrain is the transmission. Without a working transmission, you may be sure that you won’t be able to operate a car.

It’s very frustrating when your transmission breaks down. Driving is nearly impossible if you are trapped in a car that only has neutral. Here’s what we’ve learned about why vehicles are stuck in neutral gears!

Why Is My Car Stuck In Neutral?

1. Stuck On Solenoid Transmission

Failure to change your vehicle’s transmission fluid on the prescribed timetable is the most frequent cause of a stuck solenoid.

Further, small metal fragments and debris will gradually make their way into your transmission fluid.

In addition, these tiny metal fragments get lodged in the solenoid when the contaminated transmission fluid is forced through it, preventing it from shutting.

As a result, when something goes wrong with either set of solenoids, they stop working correctly and cause your car to be stuck in neutral.

2. Limp Mode Transmission

A unique fail-safe mode is activated when the car’s computer cannot read the sensors.

Additionally, when that happens, your car’s transmission goes into “limp mode,” inhibiting it from appropriately changing gears.

Further, it is a safety feature that enables you to travel to a transmission repair shop in your car without endangering the haul.

That said, this is why the transmission will shift into second or third gear and remain in that neutral position.

3. Jammed Parking Pawl

Another common reason your car is stuck in neutral is a jammed parking pawl on your transmission.

With that, a parking pawl is a spring-loaded device inside the car’s system that holds your vehicle in first gear when parked.

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Aside from that, it can be caused by various things, including a faulty transmission or a problem with the parking pawl itself.

In most cases, if the parking pawl isn’t working correctly, your car will be unable to move out of first gear and back into neutral after you’ve positioned your vehicle.

4. Inaccurate Brake Light Switch

A brake light switch is a small device that tells your engine when it needs to stop or start.

That said, if you press the brake pedal and the brake switch doesn’t signify holding the pedal, the car won’t know you are doing so.

Because of that, when the brake light switch is not set correctly, your car will be in the wrong gear and will not move.

Overall, it could result in your car being stuck in neutral gear and causing other issues such as transmission failure or premature wear on parts of your vehicle!

5. Imprecise Ignition Switch

Imprecise Ignition Switch

An ignition switch is a device that determines how your car will start, how it will engage gears, and how it will lock up for you to go forward.

Subsequently, if you notice that your car’s transmission is stuck in neutral, it may be due to a faulty ignition switch.

Besides, if this switch doesn’t function, the solenoid won’t ever get a signal telling it to let you shift the car into gear.

Above all, if something is wrong with this ignition switch, it may even result in your vehicle being stuck in neutral.

6. Heavily Stepping On The Gas Pedal

Stepping on the gas pedal is another frequent cause of a car being stuck in neutral.

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In addition, when you apply more force than usual while applying the gas, it causes your gearbox to change into the next gear and disengage from the one it was in before.

Also, if your shoes or boots are excessively tight, they may squeeze the gas pedal so hard that it becomes stuck in one position.

For that reason, the gas pedal becomes stuck in one position because your foot is forced against it.

7. Dead Battery

Car batteries are designed to be able to hold a charge for a short amount of time.

However, if the battery has been discharged (low on power) for too long, it will not have enough power to turn over the engine.

Apart from this, your car will not start, and the reason could be that you have a bad alternator or an electrical problem with your car’s transmission.

Furthermore, a battery needs to be charged before it can be used again.

Without a doubt, if a battery car is dead, it won’t be able to provide enough power to start up your engine so that it can turn over its transmission into gear.

8. Defective Neutral Safety Switch

An automatic transmission contains a safety feature known as a Neutral Safety Switch that prevents the vehicle from starting while it is in drive or reverse.

Usually, the Neutral Safety Switch connects the starter and ignition system to the vehicle.

Additionally, this neutral safety switch is designed to prevent an accident if both gears are engaged while driving down a steep hill or on uneven terrains like gravel roads or dirt trails.

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On this account, if either gear slips out of place while driving, there will likely be an accident because neither gear will disengage when both gears are engaged.

9. Loss Of Fuel

Occasionally, the car may lose its gas in the tank, which can happen when a valve is stuck, or the fuel line has been pinched.

Aside from that, low fuel pressure from a clogged fuel filter can also lead to a lean fuel condition and engine misfire.

In this case, the engine will try to run on empty and eventually stall out. Therefore, it is advised to perform a maintenance task to inhibit the buildup of fuel pressure.

Overall, the car will be unable to move forward or backward and may cause your vehicle to be jammed in neutral gear.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why your car is stuck in park, why your car is blowing white smoke but not overheating, and why your car smells like fish.


While a transmission repair shop may not be the most practical solution, it is by far the most satisfactory solution for fixing stuck-in-neutral problems.

These are due to several issues, including a jammed parking mechanism, a stuck-on solenoid, and a transmission in limp mode.

In general, DIY projects are too risky, especially considering how expensive transmission repairs can be when they break down.

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