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Why Transmission Will Not Engage In Any Gear

Why Transmission Will Not Engage In Any Gear? 7 Reasons That You Should Consider

It is no brainer that a lot of components work together to run your car smoothly. And when a single peripheral doesn’t work appropriately, it begins giving you a toll until you get them fixed. One of the most common issues in automatic cars occurs when the transmission will not engage in any gear.

Transmission is a vital component of a car that transfers the power taken from the engine and releases it to the wheels so your car can get good speed in no time. But instead, if your vehicle doesn’t move an inch even if you keep it moving in the transmission gear, there must be some serious issues that you need to deal with.

What can be the reasons for which your car isn’t moving or what are the symptoms when there are issues with your automatic transmission? We’ll discuss each and every part of the reasons today to keep you posted.

Reasons why transmission will not engage in any gear

When it comes to jotting down the reasons for a car that is not moving in gear – the common reason that may come across in many minds can be a leak or a less amount of transmission fluid in the vessel. The other reasons can be body shaft solenoid, clogged filters, bad valve body, defective transmission control, bad gear position sensor, failed torque converter, and can be a worn-out clutch that is not working fairly.

Here is a comprehensive discussion of why your car is not moving in the transmission gear;

  • Low Transmission fluid or leakage

The transmission fluid between the transmission gears is responsible to shift the gear smoothly so a vehicle can move forward. But when the transmission fluid is low, it becomes difficult for the car to shift gears.

Possibly, you have checked the fluid quantity but you again experience the gear shifting issues, which may be because of fluid leakage. For checking the level of the fluid, you can check the fluid dipstick. To prevent permanent damage to the transmission, you should check the leakage and fix it beforehand. In many ways, this helps in resolving gear-shifting issues, if not, some other reasons are there that you need to consider.

  • Blocked Transmission filter

Your vehicle transmission also has a filter installed which is responsible to prevent transmission from dirt and contaminants and creating damage to the components. If you are neglecting your regular car repairs, then you are welcoming dirt and other contaminants to create a fuss and clog build-up inside the transmission. As a result, the practice will result in a blocked transmission filter.

When the filter is clogged, a clear sound of engine whining can be heard clearly. Also, it affects your driving intermittently before it completely stops and doesn’t move. Generally, the life of a transmission filter is two years or you should replace it with a new one every 30,000 miles. Fortunately, transmission filters are not expensive compared to any other important component of your car. Depending on the conditions where you drive and how you drive, you should keep your transmission filter repaired or replaced (when needed) to avoid sudden surprises.

  • Bad Valve body or Shift Solenoid

There are hydraulic channels in the transmission valve body. In these hydraulic channels, fluid flows so the shift solenoids operate appropriately. When the transmission valve body is clogged due to dirty fluids, these solenoids become bad. When this happens, you will constantly experience weird noises and vibrations whenever you shift your transmission gear. Once it has gone bad, your car can also stall and it won’t move at all.

Unfortunately, the replacement or repair costs of the valve body and transmission solenoid is not an easy, inexpensive task. Possibly, you need to take the whole transmission pan out to fix the issue which may take a generous amount of time.

  • Torque conversion failure

One of the common reasons for a bad torque convertor is not properly maintained transmission. If your practice contains;

  • Failing to do regular maintenance,
  • Using dirty/corrosive transmission fluids,
  • Leaving the filters clogged, and
  • Ignoring the sounds and signs

Then eventually you will end up having bad torque converter issues. A torque converter doesn’t get bad overnight. Before it goes bad or makes the car stop, it gives you multiple signs to consider. It would start making noises on start up that may get dimmed when the car gets heated. Besides, it can make your car stall if not taken proper care of.

You have to be vigilant when there are issues with your torque as when it gets worse. It can take more than a day to get repaired, as the mechanic has to take out the transmission to replace or repair the torque converter.

  • Worn out clutches

Similar to the manual transmission of a vehicle, automatic transmission also contains clutches. When your car gets stuck and does not move, this could be the reason owed to worn-out clutches. The clutch discs in your car are the components that connect your transmission to the engine, this is why when they get worn out, they create great trouble. Worn-out clutches also create noises while changing gears before they completely fail to work. Also, when you feel a rough expression of changing gear, it would be the result of worn-out clutches.

Like any other important component, changing or fixing worn-out clutches is not an easy job, as to reach the clutches, a specialist has to remove the transmission and many other components associated with it to complete a job. This is why it is not recommended to change it on your own, but getting a professional hand.

  • Bad gear shifter or position sensor

If your car sensors are not working properly, it can also create problems for you to run your car smoothly. One of them is gear sensors. Switch or Gear sensors, when sending an incorrect single to transmission and control unit malfunctions. For instance, if the transmission is already in first gear or in D, but TCM assumes that it is neutral – the car will hardly move. Although, it is quite easy to check the gear position and the sensors. Just hover over the car dashboard and see if the gearbox settings have the same gear position.

  • The malfunctioning transmission control unit

Oftentimes, the malfunctioning transmission unit is easy to figure out as it says ‘incorrect gear’ on the car dashboard. When the transmission control unit doesn’t work properly, the car doesn’t appear to change gears even though signs are showing an increase in RPMs. Not only does the car change gears but it doesn’t seem like moving at all.

In addition, a failing battery or an uncharged battery can also be the reason for the malfunctioning of the transmission control unit as it is not getting the proper power it wants. For the start, check on your battery that it is properly charged or if the plugs are intact correctly.

If nothing works, your battery is fine and you are still experiencig transmission unit issues, then you should try fixing or replacing the transmission control unit. And then again, while installing a new transmission control unit, you would need professional help as it takes professional skills to not just replace but install the settings according to the functions of your car.

Another thing here to mention is to check if the parking gear is engaged. Oftentimes, this can be the one neglected issue that creates silly but easy-to-tackle issues.

Diagnosing Automatic transmission issues

Diagnosing Automatic transmission issues
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In case you want to check on your own what is there that makes your car transmission not engaged in the gear, here are some steps that you can follow;

  • Begin checking the transmission fluid levels. Check the dipstick and figure out the level, if it’s low – fill it up.
  • Check the fluid level after a day or two, if it is again low, then check for leaks. Place cardboard under your car for some time, maybe overnight, and check if the leak is present.
  • If it has been a good time already passed when you last performed your car maintenance, then it’s time to replace/clean transmission filters, check and refill fluids, and clean transmission gears.
  • Check the shifter or position sensor if it says the right position on the car dashboard.
  • Try decoding the trouble codes shown by the transmission control module by using a device OBD 2 scanner and find the shifter solenoid or valve body codes. Follow the instructions given by the scanner and adjust the transmission.
  • After checking and reinstalling everything, if your car still doesn’t move or change the transmission gear, then look for the battery as the last option before approaching a specialist. See if the plugs are closely intact and the battery is charged.

After applying all the steps, if the issue still is undercover, then your car needs qualified assistance. A specialized mechanic will use the transmission diagnostics techniques and can figure out the issue in a minimal time as they know generally what is causing problems mostly just after getting to know the symptoms.

It is necessary to take your vehicle to a garage if the transmission needs total repair.

How you can avoid car transmission problems

  • In cold weather, always warm up your car before you actually start accelerating. Since the transmission is cooler than the normal temperature, once you start your car, operate it in first gear so that the engine doesn’t have to make an extra effort to get the speed.
  • Before you push the accelerator to start the car, make sure to switch the shifter transmission to all modes and wait for 5-10 seconds on all the modes. This will make the fluid travel all the way to the hydraulic shafts and channels.
  • Not only the quantity, check for the quality and the level of the transmission oil. It is necessary to keep a certain level of oil that is clean from any kind of product formation in it which may cause problems. The presence of worn products and deposits as metal shavings will indicate that you have to replace them.
  • Towing trailers and heavy vehicles can also take part in affecting your automatic transmission in an automatic car. Keep in mind that automatic transmissions are made to adapt to a certain weight. An enhanced mass weightage can lead to signaling to the operations that the high loads are in process and that can cause a serious breakdown of the transmission control unit and structural elements that would need fixing.
  • Do not try drifting on slippery surfaces and especially, in cold weather.
  • When you get an oil change maintenance, the manual book will tell you when the next oil change is planned. Change the engine oil and transmission fluids on time to avoid sudden surprises. However, if the car manufacturer has filled up the grease for the entire service, it must be checked after every 37000 to 62000 miles or 60-100 thousand kilometers drive.


As you can see there are multiple reasons why your car won’t get into transmission gear. Whether you want to take it to a specialist or not, you must make sure to check all the possible reasons mentioned above which include checking fluid levels, transmission control unit, shifter solenoids, and most importantly battery power. The behavior of the transmission gear can be affected by any of these you need to check and figure out when the transmission will not engage in any gear.

You can easily figure out the issue if the problem lies in any of these that we have listed above. There are solutions that you can keep up with to avoid them in any weather and conditions. Keep in mind, as the wear and tear of a vehicle is not an easy or inexpensive task, make sure to follow a maintenance routine for your vehicle to avoid lingering issues.

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