Automatic Car Stuck In Reverse? 5 Common Issues (Solved)

You put your car in reverse; it rolls out easily. Then, when you try to shift to D gear (which is Drive gear), your automatic vehicle can’t get out of the reverse gear.

It is stuck there.

This article highlights some of those reasons why your car may get stuck in reverse.

Why is your automatic stuck on reverse?

Your car’s transmission is a crucial mechanical system; if something is wrong with it, your car won’t run.

For those car owners who don’t know what a transmission is, here is a simple explanation:

A car transmission is your vehicle’s gearbox. It makes the engine and wheels operate in sync with one another.

Put differently, your car’s transmission keeps the engine turning in time with the wheels regardless of your gear. Because your transmission has many layers and parts that it should interact with, if one of those parts is not working, your car won’t go out of gear, including in reverse.

A couple of things can cause your car not to go out of reverse.

In most cases, your vehicle won’t reverse because there is something flagrantly wrong with your transmission. For example, a simple problem like low transmission fluid can make your car not go out of reverse gear.

Sometimes your car won’t go out of reverse because of a problem with your hydraulic and mechanic systems. When those two systems can’t work together seamlessly, your vehicle will likely get stuck in reverse gear.

Here are some of the problems that can make your automatic car not go out of reverse:

#1 Low hydraulic oil

Low hydraulic oil is the most common reason your automatic car won’t go out of reverse. If your vehicle has a low amount of transmission fluid, it may not shift to other gears.

An insufficient amount of hydraulic oil may sometimes cause gears to slip.


You may have a low amount of hydraulic fluid because of a leak. However, it is also possible that your vehicle overheats hydraulic fluid.

So when your car doesn’t have sufficient liquid to lubricate gears, it won’t allow you to continue shifting gears.

Hydraulic oil is one mechanism that protects the teeth of gear from breaking.

Signs of transmission fluid leak:

  • Brocken’s transmission seals: Your automatic transmission should sustain hydraulic pressure through various transmission seals. However, when you expose transmission seals to heat, they will crack and break.
  • A worn-out transmission pan gasket: The gasket on your transmission will crack and eventually wear out, especially if you expose it to hot temperatures. Once this happens, your transmission fluid will begin to leak.


You can solve the leaking problem by replacing the pan gasket, then replenishing the transmission fluid.

You can take your automatic car to a mechanic to look at your transmission, then replace the gasket.

This may also cause the opposite problem, that your car will drive forward but not drive in reverse.

#2 Broken Teeth on Reverse Gear

Suppose the reverse gear breaks, one of the first things that will happen is that your automatic car won’t go out of reverse.

When this happens, it becomes virtually impossible for you to shift gears.

If your car damages a reverse gear tooth, that will automatically impact the transmission.

Common signs your car has broken gear teeth:

  • Your car produces gnashing sounds when you try to shift gears;
  • Your car may make a loud grinding sound, especially when you put it in reverse,
  • You may hear unusual clicking sounds.
  • Your vehicle can also make a loud clunk;
  • Or your car won’t out or into reverse gear.


The teeth on reverse usually break when you don’t shift gears properly.

But sometimes, teeth may break because you’ve overloaded your automatic vehicle.

When you overload your car, that may cause a partial contact at the tooth ends, typically spur gears.


Experts recommend that you pull out the entire transmission and replace it.

It is the best way to ensure your car gets new broken teeth. That said, we recommend that you don’t try to replace broken teeth yourself. Book your car with a seasoned mechanic to do this job for you.

It will cost you roughly $300 to replace reverse broken teeth.

#3 Rancid Automatic Transmission Fluid

Your car won’t go out of reverse gear if it uses a bad transmission fluid.

Low-quality transmission oil becomes too thin or dirty quicker than quality fluid. Once your transmission fluid becomes rancid, it will no longer lubricate your car as it should.

Once that happens, your gears will begin to lock.

Signs that your automatic transmission fluid is rancid:

  • Your gears begin to slip.
  • You hear an unusual whining noise from your transmission.
  • Your car makes a grinding noise when you try to reverse it.
  • Your car won’t go out of reverse gear.


If you notice a rancid automatic transmission fluid, replace it at once.

To ensure that your transmission oil lubricates your gears properly, we recommend that you replace the automatic transmission fluid recommended by your owner’s manual.

#4 Faulty Transmission Position Sensor (Automatic)

Your automatic car won’t go out of reverse gear if it has a faulty transmission position sensor. In most cases, you won’t even go into reverse gear.

So how does a transmission position sensor of your car work?

You’ll find the transmission position sensor on the side of your transmission. The transmission position sensors detect changes as you shift the automatic gear selector from park, neutral, drive, or reverse.

When the transmission position sensor is faulty, it becomes impossible to enable and disable your car out of reverse gear.

Usually, when you shift your vehicle into reverse, the transmission position sensor will communicate with the powertrain control module. Then your car will roll into reverse.

But if your transmission position sensor is faulty, it won’t allow your vehicle to shift into reverse.

Signs that your transmission position sensor is not working:


Take your car to an experienced mechanic to fix this problem.

A mechanic is adept at detecting the problem and replacing the connector between the sensor and your vehicle’s wiring. They will connect the new sensor to the car’s wiring.

Once your mechanic connects the new sensor, your mechanic will proceed to install it. Removing a faulty sensor requires a proper socket only a mechanic will have.

#5 Worn-out Valve Body

Every automatic car has what we call “a valve body.”

A valve body is a sizable maze-like component that directs the flow of hydraulic fluid to the valves. Without it, your car cannot shift from one gear to another.

Like any car part, a valve body is likely to wear out, and you should replace it immediately.

Signs that your car has a worn-out valve body:

  • You begin to notice an unusual slippage of gears,
  • There is a delay when you shift gears,
  • Your transmission shifts into higher or low gears at the wrong times,
  • Your car fails to move out of the park mode,
  • Your transmission shifts into the wrong gear;


Consider replacing a worn-out valve body immediately.

An experienced mechanic will be in the best position to replace a worn-out valve for you. The mechanic will have two options: To replace the entire valve body with a new one.

Or to repair and rebuild a valve body. Remember, that will depend on how worn-out or damaged your valve body is.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, if your car gets stuck in reverse, take it as a sign of something wrong with your transmission.

You should take your automatic car to a repair shop specializing in transmissions.

That’s the best way to ensure that your transmission gets the attention of someone who can detect and solve your problem.


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