Car Talk

Why My Manual Car won’t Go into Gear?

Avatar Adie Tinkle -

Whether you drive an automatic or a manual vehicle, shifting gears is an important part of driving any car. If you cannot shift gears, you cannot drive the vehicle. 

Transmission is a reliable component of a vehicle, but it can also face expensive issues over time. One of the issues that you can face is the inability to shift your vehicle into gear. There can be many possible causes why your car won’t go into gear when the engine is running. Some issues are easy to fix, while others can be complicated and costly to repair. 

However, regardless of the cause behind your vehicle’s issues, it is crucial to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Go into Gear?

Understanding why your vehicle refuses to shift gears is crucial for your safety and convenience. Here are some of the primary reasons why your car won’t shift into gear. 

Clutch Issue

If it’s your first time driving a car with a manual transmission, you might not be pressing the clutch until the end of the floor before changing gears. 

However, if you have to press the clutch harder than you usually do, it can be a sign of a deeper problem, including: 

  • A misaligned clutch housing 
  • Requirement for more transmission fluid 
  • Failure of clutch master cylinder 
  • A broken clutch wire 
  • A bad clutch release bearing 

Transmission Fluid Issue 

If there is a problem with transmission fluid, your gears will not shift properly. Issues with transmission fluid can have an effect on how gear changes. Some common issues with transmission fluid include 

  • Thick transmission fluid 
  • Burned transmission fluid 
  • Dirty transmission fluid 
  • Empty transmission fluid 

An issue with Brake Safety Locks 

Modern cars have a number of safety features that prevent you from shifting into gears accidentally when you are parked. These features require you to press the brake and shift lock in the park. However, if the shift lock release fails, it can become impossible to move out of the park even if you push the brake. Your shift lock may be damaged and need repair. 

Bad Transmission 

Sometimes, the gear shifting issue is caused by bad transmission. Because of this, you can hear strange grinding sounds coming from your transmission when you try to change the gear. If the issue is of bad transmission, a professional mechanic will have to repair or replace it. 

Bad Torque Converter 

In a car with an automatic transmission, the torque converter does the same job as the clutch in a manual transmission car. If any of the components within a torque converter fail, automatic transmission can be difficult. The issue can be related to the transmission field, turbine, stator, or pump. Transmission slipping into and out of gear is one of the indications of a bad torque converter. 

Misaligned Gearbox 

A misaligned gearbox issue is observed in cars with manual transmissions. If it is not addressed early, it can lead to total gear failure. 

Although thermal expansion, along with other issues, can be the cause behind misalignment, it usually happens because the mechanic or the car’s manufacturer did not install or mount it properly in the first place.  

How to Fix a Car that is Not Changing Gears?

If your vehicle is not changing gears, here are some of the things you can do to solve the issue: 

Push the Clutch Fully: Manual Cars

Try to push the clutch in manual transmission all the way down before changing gears. if changing gears is easy, there might be an issue with the clutch. 

Press Brakes: Automatic Cars

If shifting out of the park is not possible, press the brake pedal firmly, as it sometimes unlocks the gear.

Use Emergency Release 

If applying brakes does not work, there is an “emergency release” method in the car manual that you can try to unlock. If that does not work as well, your vehicle’s locking system might be broken. 

Try Another Gear 

If a specific gear is not working, try other gears, as it helps pinpoint the problem.

Visit a Mechanic 

If none of the above methods work, it is better to visit a mechanic, as the faulty gearbox might require some worn-out car parts to get replaced. 

Final Thoughts

It is a very annoying problem when your car won’t go into gear. However, it can also be very dangerous as it can leave you at a high risk in the middle of a busy highway or road. It’s preferable to consult a professional mechanic as soon as possible if you encounter such a situation. 


Why doesn’t my car move into gear in an automatic transmission?

If your vehicle doesn’t move into gear in an automatic transmission, no matter what gear you try,  the chances are that you have a weary clutch. Because of broken clutches, the transmission can be unresponsive. 

Another reason why your vehicle goes into gear but doesn’t move is that the transmission gear is stuck in two gears at the same time and is not able to move. 

However, you can avoid car transmission problems by ensuring regular maintenance of your vehicle. 

Why won’t the car go into gear when the engine is running?

One of the reasons why your automatic car won’t change gears is because the engine control module is malfunctioning. Common symptoms include worn-out sensors, bad internal connections, and faulty solenoids. It is important to get your car checked by an experienced mechanic. 

Why does my car turn off every time I try to switch gears?

A strong reason why your car doesn’t move into gear and turns off when switching is because the torque converter is broken. This is because the vehicle will not be able to maintain the required power at low speeds, causing the engine to shut off.

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