A gear shifter, or transmission selector, is the lever on your car console that allows you to change gears. These gears are connected by rods and levers that make sure things don’t get out of whack when you switch between them. If one starts spinning faster than another, for example, there are mechanisms built in so they don’t collide with each other.
Also, the side effect of this arrangement is that when you pull back on your shifter lever near where it meets its cable (or push forward), this motion causes those internal levers and rods to move as well: thus changing gears.
However, there are some situations where your gear shifter will move but your gear will not change. In case you are wondering why here are some of the possible reasons:
Table of contents
- Reasons Why Your Shifter Moves But Doesn’t Change Gears
- Symptoms of a Damaged Shifter
- Frequently Asked Questions
Reasons Why Your Shifter Moves But Doesn’t Change Gears
1. Loose Shifter Wiring
Loose wiring is a possible cause for a shifter that moves but does not change gears. The wires may have come loose from the transmission, causing your vehicle to shift gears incorrectly or not at all. You can check this by removing the console from your vehicle and looking for any loose connections or frayed wires in the console area.
2. Faulty Torque Converter
The torque converter is a device that connects an engine and transmission. It allows you to change gears, but it can also hinder your transmission from changing gears properly if it is faulty even though you can move your shift lever.
The torque converter consists of a pump, a rotor, and a turbine. The pump supplies hydraulic pressure to the turbine when it spins in one direction.
This causes fluid to flow through the stator (a stationary section) and into the turbine housing where it expands due to heat created by friction between moving parts before being released back into normal operation outside of the clutches.
3. Worn-out Clutch Disc (Manual Transmission)
For manual transmissions, the clutch disc can wear out over time. This happens when your car is in use and you put pressure on the gas pedal to drive it at speed.
The clutch is a friction component that connects the engine to the transmission, which then drives your wheels.
A worn-out clutch could rapidly render your transmission inoperable. As soon as you shift gears into first gear or reverse, your car will not move because there isn’t enough power being transmitted through that component anymore. This could lead to catastrophic damage in other areas of your car’s engine system, including expensive repairs down the road. It’s also important to note that a worn-out clutch disc is one of the major reasons why a car vibrates in reverse.
4. Broken Shifter Cable
A broken shifter cable can also be the reason why your car’s transmission doesn’t change gears properly. The cable that links your shifter and transmission tends to stretch, distort, and deteriorate through time.
The switch could change gears relative to its position when the shift linkage is stretched. Fortunately, this is not a difficult repair job if you have access to a lift or ramp so you can raise the front of the vehicle while working on it.
5. Low Transmission Fluid
A transmission shift failure is low transmission fluid. If you’ve been driving around for a while with low transmission fluid, then it’s possible that your car may not be able to change gears properly.
This can happen because the liquid could deteriorate and get contaminated over time. It may be pretty challenging to shift gears when the contaminated fluid remains in your car’s transmission for extended periods. While refiling your transmission fluid, it’s important to ensure that you’re not putting in too much transmission fluid as this would cause other issues.
Symptoms of a Damaged Shifter
1. Shift Lever Doesn’t Shift Gears
If your car has a manual transmission, the shift lever is what you use to change gears. If it doesn’t move when you turn the key to start your car, or if it moves but doesn’t shift gears while driving, then one or more of these components may need to be replaced.
2. Engine Won’t Go Off
Your engine will not go off once your shifter is damaged and the moment there is difficulty in turning off the engine a lot of things will go wrong.
3. Show an Incorrect Gear Position
You’ll see the current gear position in the DIC, but it may be incorrect. For example, if you’re in 4th gear and tap the shifter to downshift, you won’t shift into 3rd gear and the transmission is still thinking that it’s in 4th gear.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do If The Gear Shifter Moves But Doesn’t Change Gears?
If you find that your gear shifter is moving but not actually shifting gears, there are a few things you can do to fix the problem. First and foremost, make sure that the vehicle has enough gas in it. If the vehicle is out of gas or if there is an issue with its fuel pump, then it will be impossible for you to change gears because the car won’t have enough power to turn over. Here are things to do:
- Step 1: First, start the car.
- Step 2: Step on the car brake to gradually transfer the gear to P. (park)
- Step 3: Place the automobile shifter assembly in the park.
- Step 4: Because the parking brake is independent of the foot brake, you must activate it with your hand. Typically, this entails pressing a pedal near the driver’s seat (though some vehicles use an electrically-controlled parking brake). If you’ve never used the parking brake before, or if it’s been a while, educate yourself on how it works before attempting to fix changing gear’s difficulties.
- Step 5: Shift to reverse by pushing the lever to the letter R while simultaneously checking the dashboard to see that the reverse gear is verified. You may change gears by releasing your foot from pressing down on it and turning it around.
- Step 6: To test that the reverse gear is engaged, break briefly and then begin backing up to observe if the car reverses in response to your action. Try shifting again if nothing happens and you’re still stuck in first gear.
- Step 7: Finally, do the same test with N and then D.
Can You Drive With a Broken Shifter?
Yes, but it’s not recommended. You’ll be able to get around in first gear, but if you need to shift into another gear or change the speed of your car, it won’t work.
You’ll just have to leave the car on first gear and go slowly until you get somewhere where it’s safe for you to pull over and call for help.
What Connects the Shifter to the Transmission?
Shift linkages are cables that connect the gearshift or gear selector to the transmission. If these cables are damaged or broken, they cannot send signals from your foot pressing on one of those pedals (or pressing down on something like a joystick) and get them to work properly inside of your car’s chassis.
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Changing gear is one of the vital tasks you assign to your car. It can be for maintaining balance or parking your car. But what do you do when you are trying to change gear and you couldn’t?
The surprise behind this is that the shifter moves but doesn’t change gear. This may be a result of low transmission fluid, worn-out clutch, broken shifter cable, loose shifter wiring, or faulty torque converter.
Furthermore, if you are thinking of what to do to address the situation, you can do the following; First, start the car, step on the car brake to gradually transfer the gear to P. (park).
After this, place the automobile shifter assembly in the park and engage the break. Also, test and check if the break is really engaging. Lastly, repeat the same test with N and D.
Ugo is a passionate car enthusiast with a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree and hands-on experience in troubleshooting and fixing automobiles.
I combine my electrical and mechanical engineering knowledge with practical skills to address car-related issues.
My love for cars and dedication to educating others led to the creation of Fixandtroubleshoot.com!