This is why the car won’t move into drive (D) gear

After one or two years of car ownership, most people know their vehicle. So, whenever it starts to act differently, it is easy to notice right away.

In fact, every time it ticks and knocks or makes the slightest strange noise, you may even stop to pop the hood, check all of the tires, or look at everything else to find where the problem is coming from. This is especially true if you need to know the answer to questions like, why does the automatic car won’t move into drive (D) gear? 

First of all, the answer to this question can vary from one car malfunction and vehicle to the next. Therefore, it is not always easy to diagnose. On the flip side, there are some common reasons why these issues can occur. So, let’s get started by discussing 3 of the most common reasons why your car won’t move into (D) drive.

Neglecting Basic Maintenance Of Transmission

Hopefully, if this problem is related to your vehicle’s regular transmission maintenance, it is just a matter of adding more transmission fluid because the fluid level is too low.

Therefore, if you have a bottle of transmission fluid inside of your car, you can add this fluid immediately to correct this issue. Or, based on the situation, you may need someone else to buy and deliver a bottle or two of transmission fluid to your door. Whatever the case, this is a common problem that’s normally caused by neglecting this area of car maintenance.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Leaks

On the other hand, if this problem is related to a fluid leak in the transmission system, it may not be just a matter of adding more transmission fluid because the fluid level is too low.

Instead, you may need to take your vehicle to a car repair shop to identify the source of the leak, especially since these leaks may occur over and over again. Whatever the case, this is a common problem that may eventually lead to more costly repairs, particularly if left unrepaired over a long extended period of time.

The Transmission Shifter Is Locked In Park (P). 

Another common problem that some drivers may have at one point in time involves dealing with a locked shifter. Fortunately, this is a problem that you can fix yourself if you can follow the directions of your automaker.

It is also important to note that there may be other underlying issues involved. However, this is a quick fix until you contact your mechanic to follow up with a permanent fix. 

How much does it cost to fix an automatic car that doesn’t move when engaging gear?

If you are like most vehicle owners, this type of problem may be very upsetting and frustrating from the onset. Since this type of car problem may cause a significant amount of downtime, unexpected costly repairs, and transportation issues that are not always easy to solve, many drivers’ first concern is the actual cost of these mechanical repairs.

Therefore, until the actual problem is diagnosed, you can get a possible estimation of what these issues may cost out of pocket. 

With that being said, the cost to fix problems with your transmission can range in price as follows:

  • The cost of buying a couple of transmission bottles of fluid – about $8 to $20 a quart
  • The cost of fixing a transmission fluid leak may be as little as $150 to replace a seal to about $1,000 to buy a new torque converter.
  • The cost to repair or replace your vehicle’s permanently damaged transmission can lead upward toward several thousands of dollars based on the solution for the diagnosis.


Why your car won’t move into drive (D) gear is a car problem that needs to be addressed proactively instead of after the fact. With regularly scheduled maintenance and keeping the transmission oil-filled correctly, these and other problems can be avoided.

Therefore, as the owner of any vehicle, you need to make sure that you are prepared in every way possible. From making sure that you have access to your automaker’s instruction guide for these and other malfunctions to ensure your transmission is inspected as recommended, there is a lot that you can do to prevent your car from having a malfunctioning gear problem.

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