With the transmission in neutral, the car is rendered motionless-the best you can do with it is hang out inside. To move you will need to engage another gear.
What if getting the car into another gear is the problem? What if the (N) sign on the dash proves persistent despite constant gear stick shifting.
It might seem odd or even funny but the inability to get your car out of neutral can be frustrating if not draining.
Why Is The Car Stuck In Neutral?
Transmission issues should not be a cause of major concern- they occur in almost all modest car models. It is however very much preventable but only if you choose to commit to a regular transmission maintenance routine.
Low transmission fluid levels are the main cause of transmission sticking. You will feel the gear stick move but the expected results on the dash or engine will not reflect.
This mostly happens in conventional cars after they are subjected to track-like treatment- their engines and other systems do not support aggressive driving.
What Causes The Gear Shift To Get Stuck In Neutral?
1. The Shift Lock Mechanism
Automatic cars come with a special feature that prevents the car from rolling down the road without an actual driver behind the wheel. The car needs to detect your presence in the driver’s seat.
The feature is more of a safety feature that prevents the car from moving when a toddler or an inexperienced driver shifts gears.
This feature helps to keep car occupants safe but it can also be frustrating when it malfunctions and fails to detect your presence. This gear-holding feature will remain engaged no matter how many times you move the stick.
Good thing is that the manufacturer oversaw this fault and installed an override feature somewhere in the cockpit- your owner’s manual should help you locate it.
2. Contaminated Transmission Fluid
It is apparent that the automatic transmission concept relies heavily on the efficiency of fluid dynamics. Without adequate and clean fluid, the system is very likely to fail.
Dirt or debris in the fluid hampers the efficiency and properties for which it is preferred. These contaminants can cause gear shifting issues.
Replacing the contaminated transmission should solve the issue although getting the right fluid is also important. Regular inspection of the fluid levels will prevent such a scenario in the future and maybe contribute to the system’s longevity.
3. ECU Failure
The Engine Control Unit is at the heart of all modern automatic cars’ transmission. It relies on its ability to interpret car operational needs to determine what gear to engage and when.
If the system suffers a fault or the entire transmission experiences a glitch which the ECU cannot work around, the car will not shift gears.
ECU problems can be deep and might sometimes be accompanied by other underlying car issues- you are advised to get help from a qualified technician.
The repair options include ECU reset and replacement.
3. Faulty Transmission Linkage
If you are experiencing issues after an accident, the issue could be a result of a disconnection between the gear stick and the transmission system.
The issue affects both manual and automatic transmission so if you push the clutch all the way to the floor without feeling it click in then your clutch pedal cables need checking. If that does not help you can proceed and check the hydraulics.
How Do I Get My Car Out Of Neutral When Stuck?
If your transmission gets stuck in neutral, your options are limited. The most common and effective way to get around the issue is to use the shift lock-override. It is located somewhere around the gear stick –check the user’s manual for more information.
What Do I Do If My Gear Shift Is Still Stuck?
If the shift lock override does not work, there’s not much you can do while on the highway. You will need to get the car to a repair shop where a further diagnosis can be done.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Stuck Gear Shift?
The repair costs for the transmission are high although the costs depend on the repair shop you choose to go to.
It will cost you $700 on average to fix transmission issues while replacement costs can soar up to $2000. To save on costs you can choose to go for used parts but if your love for your car is deep enough you can get new parts.
Transmission issues are quite complex and expensive to work around. It requires skills and an understanding of car operations to hold your calm when the transmission gets stuck.
The causes are quite subtle but very easily detectable by an experienced mechanic. If your car’s transmission gets stuck in neutral, try the shift lock override trick and if it fails, call your mechanic.
Do not attempt to fix things yourself- transmissions are complex and your inexperienced hands might cause more damage.