Car Won’t Move In Drive (Causes & Solutions)

When you’re prepared to leave, you ignite your vehicle and put it in reverse or drive. But what happens instead? Nothing changes even after changing tactics once more. If your car’s automatic transmission doesn’t go into any gear, you might not know your next line of action.

In addition to the fact that you need to be somewhere, and your car won’t move, the situation is annoying because you have no idea why your vehicle has decided not to move.

So, if you’re perplexed and anxious about saving aside money for maintenance, take a pause to go through this piece.

Let’s look at a few possible reasons why your automobile won’t move while we also tell you things to do if you use an automatic gearbox.

An Overview of the Automatic Transmission?

Modern cars typically have automatic transmissions, which allow the driver to shift into forwarding gear while regularly driving without any input from the driver.

As a result, driving is more straightforward than in conventional manual gearbox cars since, as the name implies, the car automatically shifts gears as needed.

When deciding when to shift gears, sensors are used in automatic transmissions. Because of the multi-speed gearbox, gear changes do not require the driver’s input when operating a vehicle normally.

Instead, the engine’s power is transferred to the wheels through a transmission or gearbox.

You cannot drive anywhere if your automobile isn’t in any gear or move when there’s a problem with your transmission or any of its parts, which includes the sensors and computers.

Why Won’t My Car Won’t Move in Drive?

Here are several potential reasons why an automated-transmission vehicle won’t move, regardless of the gear position:

1. Transmission Fluid leak

Your automatic gearbox’s low transmission fluid level is the most frequent cause of your car’s inability to move.

Transmission fluid may hold between 8 and 16 pints, on average, in an automated transmission. Therefore, the system will not be able to create the hydraulic pressure the transmission requires to operate if more than two quantities of this liquid leak.

Should your transmission be dripping fluid, look for the following symptoms:

  • Using a dipstick test identifies low transmission fluid levels (if the examination reveals a brownish color, the fluid also needs changing).
  • You are informed of an engine issue by a dashboard caution signal. In the event of a problem, a gearbox light will turn on in modern cars.
  • At your parking spot, a puddle is located underneath your vehicle. Transmission fluid on your garage or driveway floor typically leaves dark stains.
  • A gear is grinding.
  • The transmission produces clunking noise.
  • Driving produces an odd vibration.
  • The fluid in your transmission may be heated if you notice a burning smell.
  • Sluggish acceleration.
  • Your car produces a thumping noise when in a neutral position.
  • Temperature increases.

For a transmission fluid leak to be fixed, typically allocate between $150 and $200 for the repair. This category falls under minor fixes, like replacing the fluid lines or changing the drain plugs, gaskets, pan bolts, or seals.

Also Read: Transmission Fluid Leak When Parked (Causes & Solutions)

2. Torque Converter Malfunction

An example of fluid coupling is a torque converter, also referred to as hydraulic coupling. It produces mechanical energy, around which the engine transfers to the revolving driving load. In essence, it serves as a mechanical clutch substitute.

You might have a defective torque converter if your automobile won’t move after you’ve attempted every gear. Excessive friction is the root cause of most torque converter problems.

This indicates that the needle bearings in the torque converter are worn out. A malfunctioning torque converter could result from bad seals or a defective clutch solenoid.

Your car’s transmission may suffer from a failing or damaged torque converter. Some signs of a broken torque converter are listed below:

  • No gear will make the car start.
  • The transmission is shifting erratically.
  • You hear noises like whirring, buzzing, trembling, or clunking.
  • The transmission is very hot
  • Higher stall speeds
  • Contaminated transmission fluid.

The typical price range for a torque converter is between $100 and $600. A professional repair procedure could cost between $500 and $1,000 if you didn’t do the substitution yourself, particularly since you’d have to lower the transmission by yourself.

3. The Automatic Transmission Control Unit Is Faulty

Here is a typical explanation for why your automated vehicle won’t shift into gear. The dashboard displays the erroneous gear concerning the position of the shifter, which is a simple way to identify a malfunctioning control module for an automated transmission.

4. Defective Automatic Transmission Valve Body

A defective automatic transmission valve body is another cause of your car’s inability to move in whatever gear. Its control center resembles a maze.

The body of the automatic transmission valve comprises solenoids, tunnels, and valves that transport the transmission fluid necessary for shifting gears.

If your transmission fluid distribution system malfunctions, it could prevent your automobile from shifting into gear by interfering with its ability to carry the gear system’s power to other car parts.

5. Wear and Tear on the Clutch Plate

You probably only think about manual transmissions when you consider a clutch. However, a clutch system is also a part of an automated transmission.

You might have worn clutches if your automobile won’t drive, no matter what gear you put it in, or if the transmission has stopped responding. Steel plates and friction plates make up the clutch.

Unfortunately, these plates deteriorate with time. As a result, the planetary gears cannot get the necessary pressure (They decide what gear you’re in).

You might need to repair your car’s clutch kit if your automatic gearbox slips, even though your transmission fluid levels are accurate. When your gearbox slides, the engine revs high, but the automobile won’t shift into gear to match the engine’s speed.

Between $1,200 and $1,400 is the typical price range for a new clutch. The parts can cost between $700 and $750, while labor may cost, on average, between $500 and $650. The typical clutch kit, though, may cost as little as $800, based on where you reside.

Preventing Automatic Transmission Problems and Avoiding My Car Not Moving in Drive

The transmission parts can wear down over time, just like any other moving components of a car. But, since it’s always better to be safe than sorry, keeping your transmission in good working order can prevent being forced to drive your car in whatever gear.

  1. Get your automobile warmed up thoroughly before accelerating in the cold. This is to prevent the engine speed from increasing while you await the warming up of the transmission system; for it to function at its best, it is advisable to drive in first gear.
  2. Change the transmission’s gears to every mode before moving the car, then hold each mode for 5 to 10 seconds. This will enable oil to flow throughout the transmission system’s hydraulic channels.
  3. Regularly check your car’s transmission oil quality and level. The transmission fluid should be topped off if you detect that it is low. Another sign that the oil needs to be changed is the presence of metal shavings from wear and tear deposits.
  4. Avoid pulling trailers or other vehicles. In dire circumstances, only tow a limited distance. This is so because certain vehicle weights require automatic transmissions to function accurately. Your car’s mass will significantly increase due to the enormous vehicle you are towing, and it won’t shift into any gear.
  5. Whenever the transmission fluid changes, your car’s owner’s manual will specify the recommended oil-change frequency. The transmission fluid must be replaced, though, typically every 60 miles.

Also Read: Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas (Causes & Solutions)

Frequently Asked Questions – Car Won’t Move In Drive

Why won’t my car move when I put it in drive or reverse?

Put the transmission low when the oil is at the full mark, and it won’t move in either reverse or drive. If the car is moving slowly, the clutches in the transmission have burned and need to be replaced.

When the transmission fails, what happens?

A manual gearbox will feel and sound like the gears are grinding when malfunctioning, but automatic transmissions typically start to whine, hum or buzz as they fail. It leaks and has a smell. You must be able to distinguish between the many kinds of automotive fluids because cars leak a range of fluids.

What is the cost of changing transmission fluid?

Dealers, service centers, and independent mechanics charge between $80 and $250 to change your fluid. Both automated and manual transmissions have an average price of about $100.

Is it dangerous to drive a car with low transmission fluid?

A broken transmission can occasionally cause transmission fluid leaks. It makes the fluid levels drop, which has an impact on how well the car works. Driving with insufficient transmission fluid could result in expensive, long-lasting car damage requiring pricey fixing.

Can a transmission freeze?

At 32° F or 0° C, water begins to freeze. As a result, you risk having frozen and expanded water in your transmission when exposed to high temperatures, leading to cracks in the gearbox’s body. These cracks can kill your transmission if they aren’t fixed, requiring you to buy your car a new transmission.

Is it possible for low coolant to cause transmission problems?

However, in the case of low engine coolant levels, the gearbox cooler won’t be submerged adequately by the coolant. Because of this, the cooler will not let off the heat required for cooling the transmission. As a result, components expand as the transmission continues to heat up, and stresses mount.

How long do you let the car run before checking the transmission fluid?

So that it can warm up, allow it to run for approximately five minutes. Some automakers advise you to turn off the engine before examining the transmission fluid, but most do not.

Conclusion – Car Won’t Move In Drive

In conclusion, your car’s transmission can deteriorate like other components. Still, if it has an automatic gearbox, you can avoid your car’s inability to shift into any gear by adhering to the abovementioned methods.

We hope this post was of help to you. Please feel free to check out our other blog articles if you want to get more tips for fixing and preventing car troubles!

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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