Why Does My Car Not Go In Reverse? (and How To Fix It)

Why Does my Car Not Go In Reverse?

The drive system’s function should allow the driver to park the vehicle, drive the vehicle, and put the vehicle in reverse. When any of those three systems are not operating correctly, it can be dangerous for both the vehicle’s driver and other drivers.

All three driving systems are vital for a safe drive. Focusing on the reverse gear, it cannot be understated that the gear’s whole point is to allow for the vehicle to maneuver easier. For example, when the vehicle is in the drive, and the vehicle is blocked in, the reverse gear adds flexibility to the driver.

By simply going in reverse, the vehicle can also park in a normal parking spot. Without it, the vehicle will have a hard time parking, which puts the driver in a tight situation. The main focus of this article is to discuss the main reasons why any vehicle can have issues going in reverse.

A car that does not go in reverse may have issues with the transmission selector switch. If the problem isn’t solved with easy remedies, the next step is to check the transmission fluid. If the car has a manual transmission, drivers should check the clutch. Lastly, the issue could be related to the engine.

Does Your Car Work Fine When in Drive?

If the vehicle tends to work fine when it is in the drive, most potential issues will be eliminated. As stated above, it is best to check the transmission selector switch as it is deemed to be the easiest fix for the car. If the vehicle does not drive well in the drive, it can be a more complex issue.

When a vehicle has a hard time in reverse but drives fine and operates with no issues, the problem will probably resolve with the transmission selector. When the shifter is locked, a lot of the time, the vehicles have a hard time engaging in gears (particularly in reverse).

Can You Shift Into Reverse?

Often, some scenarios can address the problem. If the vehicle can shift into reverse, but cannot engage in reverse, try to see if adding more throttle to the vehicle will help it move. A lot of times, the vehicle needs more power, and it will move.

If the vehicle can shift into reverse but cannot reverse (even with the added throttle), it may need some work. If the vehicle cannot shift into reverse, it is best to check the vehicle’s transmission selector because it might be stuck. Relieving the jam will most likely help the issue at hand.

Possible Issues

If the simple fix of a vehicle’s transmission selector isn’t the problem, it is best to take the vehicle to a professional. It can have something to do with the transmission fluid, as it could be too low. When this happens, the vehicle will not shift properly.

Checking the clutch (on manual cars only) can also point to the issue. If the vehicle will not shift or is having a hard time shifting, try turning the vehicle off and pumping the clutch pedal a few times. If it works while the engine is not running, the clutch will be deemed the issue.

Replacing a clutch instead of the whole transmission is a lot simpler, so check these issues accordingly. If the clutch isn’t the issue, it is best to check the gaskets. Although the gaskets deal with the engine and not the transmission, they can still give the vehicles issues when reversing.

Usually, replacing the rubber seal will take time and patience. Once it is fixed, the issue should go away. If not, it is best to take the vehicle to a transmission specialist because it can do with the transmission itself. This costs a lot of money (between labor and parts). Since there are complex parts in the transmission, a trained mechanic should do the trick.

How Much It Costs To Fix a Car That Doesn’t Reverse?

Fixing a car that doesn’t reverse usually costs between $50 and $1,000. Parts will usually cost between $30 and $300 (depending on the issue), while labor will usually cost between $100 and $700. Issues related to the transmission are usually cheaper, while engine or clutch issues are more expensive to fix.

A transmission selector issue may be the best possible solution. For example, the mechanic may resolve the issue for less than $50, and it could be free if the owner can solve the issue on their own.

Next, a transmission fluid flush isn’t too expensive. The cost of a transmission fluid flush is around $100-$200. The cost covers mostly the labor because the transmission fluid doesn’t cost more than $30.

Then, there is the clutch replacement. The clutch costs between $150-$500, while the labor is between 4-6 hours (which could be between $300 to $600).

This is why it is necessary to make sure the issue is confirmed, as the owner doesn’t want to pay a lot of money for an issue that isn’t guaranteed.

At least with the clutch, the problem arises every 75,000 miles. With the transmission, the issue can be tricky. Also, the issue can be expensive. The price to fix many issues with the transmission typically costs thousands of dollars because the transmission has to be opened to fix, and the work is strenuous and in detail. Please make sure that this is the last possible solution available.

Final Thoughts

Although there are various issues, it is best to start small and end with the most expensive fix. Reverse issues are more common in older vehicles or vehicles with higher mileage. With that being said, it is best to search for the root of the problem first before throwing random parts and solutions at the vehicle.

If the problem isn’t solved before the last solution, it is in the driver’s best interest to really take the vehicle to a transmission specialist. It is better for the vehicle to get fixed for more money than to fail at a solution. Always remember, time is money!

Gui Hadlich

Hey there! I'm Gui. To be honest, I'm not really that interested in cars. But what I'm really, really not interest in is spending lots of money fixing my car up. Thankfully, I have a father-in-law who's obsessed with cars and a brother getting a PhD in internal combustion engines, so I get to learn about fixing cars. And with Fixing Engines, I hope to help you save a lot of money and take good care of your cars.

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