Why Does a Car Gear Get Stuck in Neutral

all about when a car gear gets stuck in neutral

Sometimes a car gear gets stuck in neutral, naturally, the vehicle doesn’t move when this happens. This can be a problem if you’re on the main road. It can also be problematic because you may not be able to reach your destination in time. Let’s go through the reasons why a car gets stuck in the neutral gear shift and how to solve the issue. 

How Do Manual and Automatic Cars Work

Before we discuss the reasons why the car gear shift gets stuck in neutral, let’s consider the different car transmission systems and the working of automatic and manual car transmissions. 

Automatic Car Transmissions 

Automatic and manual car gears get stuck in neutral because of transmission problems
In automatic car transmissions, the gear shift automatically

A series of gears gives power to the wheels of an automatic car. Simply put, a torque converter connects the transmission to the engine and helps to convert the engine’s power into motion.

Then, power is sent to the wheels via the transmission through a series of gears that enables the car to move forward or backwards. 

A computer controls the automatic type of car transmission system. It determines when the gears are to be shifted based on the vehicle’s speed and engine load. The computer also determines the fluid level amount and sends it to the transmission. This helps keep the transmission cool for a smooth operation. 

Usually, there are four or more gears in automatic transmissions. These gears enable quick vehicle acceleration and maintain high speeds. Most modern cars are equipped with an automatic transmission. Here are the detailed pros, cons and types of automatic transmission systems.

Manual Car Transmissions

Transmission control module problems are among common symptoms of car gear shift stuck in neutral
Manual car drivers have to change gears themselves

In a manual car transmission, the driver has to use the clutch and accelerator pedal and has to shift gears manually, based on the vehicle’s speed. The main difference between automatic and manual transmissions is how the gears are changed. The transmission changes gears by itself in an automatic transmission. However, in a manual transmission, the driver changes the gear themselves physically.

Another major difference between the two types of transmissions is fuel economy. Usually, manual transmissions are considered more fuel efficient than automatic transmissions because less energy is lost in the process of shifting gears manually.

Reasons Why the Car Gear Shift Gets Stuck in Neutral 

low fluid transmission is among the causes of gear stuck in neutral.
Low fluid transmission levels and damaged shifter cables are among the common reasons a car gear shifter gets stuck in neutral

Now that we’ve discussed the difference between automatic and manual car transmissions, let’s go through the reasons why a car gear gets stuck in neutral. Common reasons include: 

  • Low levels of fluid transmission 
  • A damaged or worn gear shifter cable
  • Transmission control module problems
  • Damaged transmission gears

Low Levels of Fluid Transmission

A common reason why a car won’t go into gear or get stuck in neutral is low levels of transmission fluid. Check the fluid level with an oil dipstick. The gears usually slope and get stuck on neutral when the transmission fluid levels are below the “full line.” Add more transmission fluid till it reaches the required level.   

Damages or worn gear shifter cable

Another reason why a car gear gets stuck in neutral is a problem with the shifter cable. The shifter cable connects the shifter handle to the transmission with a shifter cable. If the cable is worn or damaged, it can cause the car gear to get stuck in neutral. To check for this problem:

  • Park the automatic car on a level surface and put it in the “Park” gear. Turn off the engine and open the hood.
  • Locate the shifter cable and follow it till you find the adjuster nut (the cable will be running from the transmission to the shifter).
  • Loosen the adjuster nut with a wrench, and pull the cable tight. Tighten the nut back down and check if the shifter moves smoothly. Repeat the step till it does not
  • Finally, check the cable routing to ensure it isn’t rubbing against anything that could cause it damage. If everything looks good, close the hood and take your car for a test drive.
  • If the shifter cable breaks, the car won’t shift gears or it may jerk when shifting. If that happens, take your car for repairs at a professional automotive centre.

The transmission control module problems and Damaged Transmission Gears

The car gear can also get stuck in neutral if there is a transmission control module problem or in case of damaged transmission gears. Take the car to a professional auto mechanic if these are the reasons. They require the professional tools and expertise of professionals. 

Those were some common reasons why a car’s gear gets stuck in neutral and their fixes. That said, car transmission problems can be avoided easily with a regular car maintenance checklist. 

Besides, if your car’s gearbox is not repairable or if your vehicle doesn’t fuel economy and needs a lot of maintenance, you can consider buying another vehicle. Here is a list of used cars for sale in the UAE. 

Stay tuned to dubizzle’s auto blog for more on car problems, solutions, DIYs and more. 


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