Reasons Your Car Won’t Go in Reverse

Shifting problems will certainly make driving difficult, and any issue with the transmission isn’t one you want to ignore. Especially if your car won’t go in reverse, you have a major problem. Fortunately, there are a few ways to troubleshoot the problem at home. A number of issues could be at the root of shifting difficulty, so check out these common dilemmas:

Transmission Selector Switch

The first thing to look at is the transmission selector switch. If it’s not working, the computer won’t receive the signal that says it needs to go in reverse. Over time, corrosion can disrupt this part. For a quick fix, try putting the car from park into reverse several times slowly. This action sometimes dislodges rust in the component, making the signal more readable. If it doesn’t work, try taking it in to a technician for service.

Transmission Fluid and Filter

You can also try changing the transmission fluid and filter, as hardened particles can become stuck in the discs, preventing the car from shifting properly into reverse. If this doesn’t fix the issue, there may be other damage at play. However, it’s never a wasted effort to get clean filters and fluid into your vehicle.


If you drive a manual transmission, try pumping the clutch a few times. If this doesn’t work, you can switch off the engine, then shift into first and neutral. From there, try going into reverse. If it works with the engine turned off, the clutch is the source. In good news, a worn out clutch is an easier fix than a troubled transmission.


The problem could also be the engine, not the transmission. If you look at the seal and link under the engine and notice a worn gasket, this may be the cause of your troubles. Sometimes, replacing the rubber seals will fix the shifting issue. You may need special tools to complete this task, or if you feel uncomfortable attempting it, a mechanic should be able to take care of it.

If none of these checks reveals a problem you can handle at home, your best bet is to take the car in for repairs. Transmission trouble can be complicated and scary, but your best chance at having the trouble diagnosed properly and serviced is an experienced technician with special training and skills.

For all your vehicle’s repair and maintenance needs, call Mike’s Auto Service & Repair in Springfield, MA at 413-523-0180 today!

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