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My Car Won't Go Into Gear When The Engine Is Running

Last Updated On Wed Mar 13 2024

If you’re facing issues changing gears while driving, this guide is for you. It doesn’t matter if you drive a manual transmission or automatic car, we’re listing all potential causes, preventive care, and when you should see a mechanic to avoid any further headaches. 

Understanding Clutch Troubles

The first step to figuring out what might be happening to your car is understanding the potential clutch troubles. The clutch is the component that connects and disconnects the engine's rotating crankshaft to a traditional manual transmission. 

So if you’re driving an automatic car, you’re definitely not facing one of these. If your car has a manual transmission, please review the items below:

Worn-out Clutch

The clutch has a couple of parts, one of them being a clutch disk. If it’s worn out, shifting gears will be a struggle. If you happen to notice extra resistance or even slipping when you’re attempting to change gears, you might have a worn-out clutch. Time for a trip to the shop to replace it. 

Pressure Plate or Clutch Disk Issues

Another important part of the clutch system is the pressure plate, responsible for transferring the engine’s torque (which is basically the force that moves the drive shaft, a part of the car’s driving mechanism) to the transmission. 

That force transfer happens through the clutch disk, so if that’s not in good condition or if the plates are damaged, you’ll face issues going into gear while driving—another good thing to check. 

Dealing with Shift Linkage Concerns

A third very important part of the clutch in manual transmissions is the linkage. Its main job is to transfer power from the car’s engine to the wheels to put in movement. If they’re misaligned, broken, worn out, rusty, or have any kind of issue on them, you won’t face smooth gear changes. 

Also you can read: Car Struggles To Start But Runs Fine?

Navigating Automatic Transmission Challenges

Those three are the main possible reasons for a manual transmission car to face gear problems. Now, if you drive an automatic, the source of trouble is a bit different. 

Unlike a manual car, which uses mechanical components to change gears, an automatic vehicle uses internal oil pressure to do so, monitored by different sensors. The gears are activated by pressurized hydraulic fluid that enters a piston inside the clutch. 

Low Fluid Levels

All automatic transmissions rely on fluid to not only cool down the system but also to reduce any friction – these fluids are usually red or green, to not be mistaken for oil or other car fluids. 

If the fluid level is low, you’ll face gear-shifting issues without a doubt. Monitoring that and topping up as necessary are critical to maintaining your vehicle’s performance. This is quite an easy check: you can do it yourself by popping the hood and having a look. Then rely on a trusted mechanic or shop for product recommendations. 

Contaminated Fluid

You’ve checked the transmission fluid and it is at perfect level. Is it clean, though? Contaminated or dirty fluid will cause friction, malfunction, and other problems. To check that you’ll need professional help – and when in doubt, do a full transmission fluid change. 

Troubles with Torque Converters

A torque converter is the part that connects the prime mover to the automatic gear train that drives the load. That sounds complicated, but it really isn’t: it’s basically the automatic equivalent of the mechanical clutch. It helps the torque move through the engine. 

If it’s malfunctioning, you need a professional to evaluate it. There’s more involved than just popping the hood for this one.

Malfunctioning Shift Interlock Solenoid

A shift interlock solenoid is a mouthful, but its job is simple: it keeps you from shifting out of park when the brake pedal is not pressed down. It’s basically a safety mechanism for you and your car. 

If it’s faulty, however, it can mess up your gear engagement. Another thing to point out to the mechanic when you stop by to have your car checked. 

Exploring Common Causes for Both Transmissions

Now, there are causes that affect both transmissions: manual and automatic. Like any type of gearbox issue, for example. Take a look below to be fully informed and be able to ask during your next visit to the shop.

Gearbox Complications

A gearbox is exactly its name: a box of gears. It is the component consisting of integrated gears, which alters torque and speed between the motor and the load. Both manual and automatic transmissions have one, the difference is how they function.

If there are any damaged gears or bearings, you’ll face issues. For this one, you also need professional assistance – and quickly. These can represent a heavy financial burden when the damage is too severe. 

Damaged Shift Mechanism

The car’s shift mechanism, or stick, lever, selector, shifter, or gearshift, however you want to call it, can also be the source of the problem. If it’s bent ever so slightly, you won’t be able to shift gears correctly and that will cause further, more complicated damage. 

Empowering Preventive Measures

The first step for avoiding gear issues is: to know thy car. Pay attention to new and different sounds coming from the engine or even if the stick is rough or too stiff. Then, read our other tips below. 

Regular Maintenance

Prevention is key for everything in life and the same goes for your car: frequent, timely checks by qualified, trusted mechanics are the best way to keep a healthy transmission working in your car. 

Regular servicing means perfect performance, longevity, and no headaches. 

Recognizing Early Warning Signs

Your car is vibrating? Squeaking? Making weird little noises you’ve never heard before? Do not overlook these. Do not overlook any minimal difficulty changing gears or any raspy sounds when you do so. 

Transmission-Friendly Driving Habits

And lastly: drive your car nicely. If you want it to last, if you want to drive it without any visits to the mechanic (except the preventive ones!), if you want smooth cruising, don’t do anything abruptly: no sudden braking, no changing gears poorly, no speeding through potholes. You know the deal. 

Let us take care of your car

When you subscribe to a car with invygo, maintenance is included in the monthly fee. That means preventive maintenance but also repairments and service as needed. You will be notified ahead of time when maintenance is due, and we’re always available when anything happens with your vehicle. 

One monthly fee covers all of it: the car, mileage, service, insurance, and maintenance. Find your car on the app.

View now:-
1- Rent a car monthly
2- Subscribe to own car in KSA

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