Why Won’t My Car Go Into Gear? (9 Reasons Why)

A car that won’t shift into gear can be troublesome for drivers. Though it doesn’t happen frequently, people who encounter this circumstance easily identify it as a transmission failure.

However, there may be other causes besides a faulty transmission system. So, join us in discovering why cars won’t go into gear!

Why Won’t My Car Go Into Gear?

Your car won’t shift into gear mainly because the transmission fluid level of your car is lower than needed. There can be a leak if the level is low regardless of proper maintenance. So, as a result, since the car’s moving parts need to be adequately lubricated to function, transmission fluid is crucial, among other factors.

Want to learn more about why your car won’t go into gear? Here are nine reasons. Find out more!

1. Shift Lock Release Malfunction (Automatic Transmission)

When a car is parked and has an automatic gearbox, the shift knob is naturally locked until the brake is applied and you start the engine.

So, this stops the car from changing gears by accident while the driver is not there.

However, automatic cars will not switch gears because the shift lock can sometimes become stuck and fail to release completely.

Further, a “shift release” or “shift lock” mechanism is typically located close to the shifter in modern vehicles with automatic transmissions.

If that is the case, you may need to use a little key or screwdriver to remove a small trim item covering it, and by inserting the key to disengage the lock, you can select “drive.”

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2. Car’s Transmission Fluid Is Low (Automatic Transmission)

The transmission fluid level in the car is lower than necessary, which is the leading cause of the car’s inability to shift into gear.

So, there can be a leak if the level is low regardless of proper maintenance.

In addition, transmission fluid is crucial since your car’s moving parts need to be adequately lubricated to function.

3. Not Having Enough Gear Oil (Manual Transmission)

Any manual transmission is lubricated by gear oil rather than the transmission fluid used in automatic transmissions.

So, given that it must endure intense heat, it has high viscosity (thickness).

Generally, you will have insufficient oil in the gearing if your gearbox leaks or if you do not replace it frequently.

As a result, shifting will soon get more complicated once this occurs, and your transmission will eventually sustain damage.

Also, your transmission can make odd noises, and your car might run poorly.

4. Damaged Linkage Wire (Automatic And Manual Transmission)

The wires and cables can occasionally tear or get cracked off due to friction toward the sharp metal surfaces on the car’s frame.

So, no matter what type of transmission your vehicle has, it won’t shift into gear if the linkage wire to the clutch has been damaged.

Get your car checked out by a qualified mechanic if you’ve tried everything else and suspect a damaged linkage cable.

5. Clutch Master Cylinder Malfunction (Manual Transmission)

Clutch Master Cylinder Malfunction (Manual Transmission)

A master cylinder is in charge of converting the motion of your car’s clutch pedal into the action of the car across all stick-shift vehicles.

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In addition, whenever the clutch pedal is released, the transmission’s clutch is engaged.

As a result, even a slight hydraulic fluid leak into the mechanism might prevent the clutch pedal from working and stop the car from shifting into gear because the master cylinder relies on it.

6. Faulty Torque Converter (Automatic Transmission)

A torque converter’s pump, stator, and turbine might develop faults and cause sliding as the transmission shifts gears.

Of course, it is crucial to check these components since they may prevent the transmission from shifting, which can cause you nothing but trouble.

Additionally, regular maintenance for your automatic transmission can assist in resolving minor issues that hinder your car from effectively shifting gears.

7. Gear Malfunction (Manual Transmission)

The manual transmission has a reverse gear, counter gear, first gear, second gear, third gear, fourth gear, fifth gear, and occasionally sixth gear.

Also, each gear has two small and two large teeth. The tiny teeth accept the hub sleeve’s engagement with the synchronizer ring.

Of course, changing the transmission of these tiny teeth to sustain damage or wear would be challenging.

Additionally, when a gear is changed, the bigger teeth engage the counter gear’s rotating shaft, directing a transmission to the car’s output shaft.

As a result, the transmission will create noise if the large teeth are worn out or damaged.

8. Engine Computer Malfunction (Automatic Transmission)

The car’s ECU, or engine control unit, controls a recent automatic transmission.

So, when deciding when to shift the transmission, the ECU considers factors like throttle position and engine speed.

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Of course, transmission issues may occur if something fails underneath the hood wherein the ECU cannot make up or if the ECU sustains damage or has a problem.

As a result, if the transmission is acting strangely, you might wish to get the ECU reset or changed by a skilled OEM technician.

9. Worn-Out Clutch (Manual Transmission)

A manual transmission may experience increased stress due to a dragging clutch. A hydraulic or linkage issue may bring that on with the clutch pedal.

Also, even if the gearbox seems to be in gear, you might not obtain any power if your clutch disc is causing the transmission to slip.

Of course, the clutch disc on your car is a worn part that frequently requires repair.

As a result, you might want the clutch adjusted or replace the disc if the manual transmission is losing power, slipping, and is hard to shift.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why the inside of the car is so hot, why your truck is idling high, and why rental cars are so expensive


As explained in this post, your car won’t shift into gear depending on whether you use a manual or automatic transmission.

However, the damaged or worn-out linkage cable is one common factor for both transmissions that causes your car to not shift into gear.

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