Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: How To Deal With Transmission Failure

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: How To Deal With Transmission Failure

So, your truck won’t move in any gear, and it has an automatic transmission? If you are facing similar issues, it’s time to assume some severe problem cooking under the hood. A variety of factors can be triggering these problems. Depending on the factors causing these issues, you will notice different symptoms.

These situations have to be addressed in different ways. But it would be best if you got your truck professionally checked. You may start panicking when your vehicle won’t move in any gear, and the automatic transmission lets you down. Luckily, there are simple methods to diagnose and repair these troubles.

What Is An Automatic Transmission System?

Knowing how automatic transmission functions may help you understand a few of the transmission problems that commonly arise in trucks. An automatic transmission relies on sensors to note a need for a gear shift. Thanks to this multi-speed transmission, there is no need for driver input when changing the gears.

Truck Won't Move In Any Gear

A gearbox or transmission is tasked with transferring power to the drive wheels from the truck’s engine. If the transmission and its parts are faulty, the truck won’t move in any gear.

The most prevalent form of an automatic gearbox in a truck shifts gears using hydraulic power. An automatic transmission is made up of the following gears:

  • When the truck is shifted into drive, all gear ratios available are engaged for forwarding movement. Essentially, this implies that your transmission can shift through the whole spectrum of forwarding gears. Automatic transmissions are typically seen in older vehicles and entry-level small automobiles. Six-speed transmissions are common in newer and more sophisticated vehicles.
  • The third gear will either restrict the vehicle to its 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear ratios or freeze the gearbox into 3rd gear. 3rd gear gives your truck the necessary power to move downhill, uphill, or pull.
  • The second gear will restrict the truck to its 1st and 2nd gear ratios or freeze the powertrain into 2nd gear. In slippery circumstances, second gear is utilized for traveling uphill or downhill. Second gear is also appropriate for driving on ice and snow.
  • The gearbox will be locked into the first gear if you use the first gear. Many trucks will simply turn out of this gear to safeguard the engine at a predetermined RPM. First gear is needed to drive downhill or uphill, towing an oversized cargo, or traveling in slick terrain.

Factors Causing Transmission Issues In Your Truck

Before delving into possible remedies for your truck’s transmission problems, it’s critical to identify the variables that cause these problems. Here are the main elements to take into consideration:

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Transmission Leaks

As with other solvents of your truck, the gearbox is susceptible to leaks.

In reality, it is one of the most typical answers to why a truck won’t move in any gear, especially automatic transmissions. If the fluid level falls below a certain level, the car will continue to move while in the drive. However, you cannot reverse.

If these incidents occur regularly, there is a good possibility of a leak in the transmission.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Signs Of A Leak

  • A dipstick test shows low levels of transmission fluid. You have to replace the liquid if the test gives a brownish color.
  • A dashboard warning light is an indication of engine problems. Modern-day vehicles are equipped with transmission lights that show up when there is an anomaly.
  • A puddle forms under the truck when you park. Usually, transmission fluid leaves dark stains on the driveway or garage floor.
  • Clunking sound from the transmission.
  • Grinding gear noises.
  • Weird vibration shakes the truck when driving.
  • A burning smell from under the hood signals fluid overheating.
  • The bumping sound is produced by the car when it is Neutral.
  • Delays in acceleration.
  • The temperature gauge tells you the truck is overheating or heat starts rising through the truck’s floor.

On average, fixing a transmission fluid leak will cost anywhere between $150 to $200. Minor repairs are included in this measurement, like setting the gasket, drain plugs, seals, pan bolts, or changing the fluid lines.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Worn Clutches

If the clutch fails to function correctly, the vehicle transmission will most likely fail. Steel plates and friction plates make up the clutch. These plates deteriorate with time. As a result, adequate pressure cannot be applied to the planetary gears – they decide which equipment your truck will stay in.

In this case, you must replace the clutch plates right away. The typical cost of a clutch replacement is around $1,200 to $1,400. Parts might cost between $700 – $750, while labor could cost $500 and $650. However, depending on where you reside, the average clutch kit may be less expensive, costing approximately $800.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: A Clogged Filter

If your truck doesn’t move in any fear when the engine is hot, you may have a blocked filter problem at your hands. A whining sound frequently accompanies this condition. The engine may occasionally enable you to go for a brief distance before refusing to move again. This is usually an indication that the transmission is deteriorating.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Gear Shift Quick Check

When the gear change for the four-wheel-drive system is accidentally pushed into neutral, your truck will not move. Fortunately, you can inspect yourself and avoid having to pay for repairs.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Bad Torque Converter

The torque converter is an integral component of the powertrain system that transfers power from the transmission to the engine and wheels. If there are any faults, it can create significant complications such as the truck not moving in any gear, transmission sounds while starting the car, and stuttering when switching from one gear to another.

A broken or malfunctioning torque converter might cause transmission damage in your vehicle. Some of the signs of a fractured torque converter are as follows:

A torque converter will cost you from $100 to $600 on average. If you cannot perform the replacement yourself, mainly because it would entail dropping the gearbox, a professional repair procedure might cost between $500 to $1,000.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Inadequate Transmission Fluid

Truck Won't Move In Any Gear

Transmission fluid transfers power; if there is a deficit of transmission fluid, necessary power cannot be supplied, hindering regular driving capacity. Thus, the truck won’t move in any gear, whether automatic transmission or manual.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Defective Automatic Transmission Valve Body

A malfunctioning automatic gearbox valve body is another reason your truck won’t move in any gear. The mechanical powertrain valve body is a labyrinthine control center composed of solenoids, tunnels, and valves that convey the transmission fluid required for gear changes. If the transmission fluid distribution medium develops a fault, it will impede the passage of power from the gear system to various truck elements.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: No Power In Car

Suppose the truck has little to no power, but the engine is functioning correctly. In that case, the culprit might be internal transmission difficulties, dragging brakes resulting from a faulty brake line or caliper, or the trucks’ computer is regulating power due to a problem it has recognized. It does so to protect the engine. To locate the situation correctly, have the vehicle evaluated for trouble codes.

Truck Won’t Move In Any Gear: Overdrive Or Check Engine Light Is On

A check engine light isn’t just for the engine. It can also indicate transmission difficulties such as solenoid troubles, overheating, sliding transmission, speed sensors, and many more. Read the trouble codes to determine which circuits and sensors report a problem. Although not every sensor-related code will indicate an issue that has to be solved, they will provide a starting point for the investigation.

Common Signs Of Defective Automatic Transmission

How will you diagnose problems with the truck’s gearbox system? If your truck’s transmission framework begins to fail, you will most likely experience the following indications and symptoms:

1. Excessive Noise

A common sign of transmission failure is that the truck will make a lot of noise when driving. When you notice such occurrences, you should inspect the transmission system.

2. Shaking And Grinding

Another typical indicator of transmission system problems is the vehicle rattling and grinding as you shift into gear.

Is it difficult for you to pack the truck? If this is the case, you should presume severe problems with the transmission system.

3. Slipping And Popping

One other standard indicator of a malfunctioning transmission system is the gear dropping and popping. This is when your truck is calling for immediate attention.

4. Burning Smell

Can you smell something burning whenever you try to put your truck in gear? If yes, assume there are significant problems with the transmission system. Typically, you would require a handful of spare parts to fix the issues.

What To Do When Your Truck Doesn’t Move

When your truck doesn’t move in any gear, you are dealing with a severe automatic transmission problem within your vehicle. Or it can be due to an unmindful oversight.

Truck Won't Move in Any Gear

These are the signs to look out for and what to do:

  • Make sure your truck is turned on. A few tracks are pretty quiet, so you may not even realize they are turned on.
  • The parking brake has to be disengaged.
  • Try putting your truck in a different gear. If only one gear is causing these problems, this will let you know.
  • Examine the transmission fluid.

Some Conditions To Consider

Is The Key Inside The Ignition?

When diagnosing a truck that won’t shift, the first question to ask is, “Is the key inside the ignition?” Some may find this amusing, but many vehicles nowadays are so silent that you can’t tell if they’re operating or not. Your truck will not start if the key is not in the ignition.

Is The Parking Brake Engaged?

Release the parking brake. Even if the truck is in drive, the parking brake stops it from moving. You’ll notice your vehicle resisting the forward momentum if you use a manual transmission. When you disconnect your truck, be sure no one is behind or in front of it.

Gear Fully Engaged Or Not

A shifter is used in manual transmission vehicles. This isn’t always wholly engaged. This stops the car from shifting into gear. Shift gears by pressing the clutch pedal. Release the clutch pedal when the shifter is placed in gear.

One Defective Gear Or The Whole Transmission

Try using different gear. Begin in first gear and work your way down to the final gear. Put it in reverse and try again. This will allow you to properly examine the problem.

It might be a single defective gear rather than a complete transmission. It might be a problem with your truck’s transmission fluid levels. If there’s still no progress, seek the assistance of a technician.

Can You Spot The Missing Link?

You might have a damaged shifter if you’re unlucky, a disconnected shift linkage. When diagnosing a truck that won’t get into gear, these two are the most common problems.

A defective shifter tends to slip. You won’t shift correctly if your shift linkage is damaged or detached. Look beneath the truck to examine the condition. Get a certified technician to repair it for professional results.

Is There A Damaged Clutch Plate?

Transmission gearbox problems reliability shifting gear lever

You can assess a defective clutch plate in three ways:

  1. The trucks engage in gear ever so slightly
  2. When in gear, it moves forward slowly
  3. Or the clutch slips

Moving onto manual transmissions for a moment, this method can only work when you’re not using an automatic transmission. Engage the emergency or park brake to test this—place blocks beneath the front wheels. Release the clutch and shift to a higher gear. If the truck keeps running, the problem is a damaged clutch plate that requires replacement.

Note: Do not try this in a crowded area since your truck may suddenly lurch forward.

Are There Transmission Fluid Issues?

Ensure you have enough transmission fluid if your truck has an automatic transmission. Check the level of your transmission fluid. Insert the dipstick into the container of transmission fluid and examine the color, level, and odor. If your transmission fluid levels are low, add extra.

If the fluid seems black or dark brown, it indicates that the transmission fluid is old or has a problem with the transmission. Flush the system and recheck after 1000 miles. The situation is alarming if the fluid has a burnt smell.

Do You Have A Deteriorated Torque Converter?

For a truck that won’t shift into gear, you might need the help of a professional to locate anything. Chances are, the torque converter is bad. Put the vehicle into park. Place several wheel blocks on the ground. Ignite the engine and shift into Drive gear. Let go of the pedal. The torque converter is worn if the truck is slow or won’t shift into gear during this process.

Hire a tow truck to transport your vehicle to the nearest auto shop. Driving it in less-than-ideal conditions will result in more harm.

How To Repair An Automatic Transmission

Truck Won't Move In Any Gear

Once you’ve identified the symptoms of the complicated transmission system and the elements that contribute to the problem, it’s time to talk about possible solutions:

  • Disengage the truck brake first. Even if you put the vehicle in gear, the truck will not move with the brakes engaged.
  • If your truck has a manual gearbox, the shifter must be locked with the gear. In some cases, if you do not push the clutch hard enough, the shifter can struggle to go into gear. Once you’ve selected gear on the truck shifter, you should deactivate the clutch pedal.
  • If you’re having trouble starting the vehicle, try shifting into a lower gear. It would be best if you didn’t release the reverse gear.
  • Therefore, you can determine if the problem is with a certain piece of gear or the complete structure.
  • Please check the transmission fluid in the automatic transmission mode now. Before doing this task, you should check your owner’s manual. It will make it easier for you to locate the fluid dipstick. After completing this step, you must activate the brake and start the car.
  • If you see that the fluid level has drastically reduced, you should add more liquid to bring it back to the proper level. If less juice was the problem, this should fix it without fuss.

How To Prevent Problems With Automatic Transmission With My Truck

A truck equipped with an automatic transmission not shifting into any gear can become a pricey problem to solve. In some cases, you may have to replace the whole transmission. Check out a few preventive measures that can keep these issues at bay.

  • Warm your truck up before accelerating in winter. The transmission takes a while to heat up and work at its optimum speed. So, as you wait, have the engine in 1st gear and keep the motor speed from increasing.
  • Switch the powertrain shifter to every mode before moving the car and remain in each mode for five to ten seconds. As this process is in order, the oil will be able to access the hydraulic channels of the gearbox system.
  • Regularly check the quality and volume of the transmission fluid in your truck. Make sure low transmission fluid isn’t the problem. Moreover, with increasing wear and tear, metal shavings accumulate and contaminate the oil. Then you have to replace it.
  • Towing other cars or trailers is not recommended. Tow for a limited distance in exceptional instances. This is because automatic gearboxes are engineered to function with specific vehicle weights. Hauling a huge vehicle will result in a considerable increment, and your vehicle will not drive in any gear.
  • Replace the transmission liquid when necessary. The appropriate fluid change interval can be found in the owner’s manual. However, on average, change it every 60 to 100 thousand kilometers (37,000 to 62,000 miles).

Transmission Repair: Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

  1. It’s important to diagnose the root cause of any transmission issue.
  2. Some signs of transmission problems include:
  • The transmission won’t engage or stay in gear
  • Shifts are delayed or missing gears
  • Transmission slipping or engine is revving high
  • Transmission fluid is leaking
  • Burning smell
  • Buzzing, clunking, humming noise
  • Car has no power
  • Check Engine Light or Over Drive Light is on
  • Gears are grinding when shifting
  • The clutch pedal grabs very low or very high
  1. Low transmission fluid due to a leak, contamination, or lack of maintenance can cause several issues.
  2. Computer systems in newer vehicles may need to be checked for trouble codes.
  3. A burning smell is typically caused by a fluid leak or low fluid causing a burning clutch smell.
  4. Buzzing, clicking, humming, and roaring noises could be a sign of a bad bearing or other internal problem.
  5. A check engine light can also indicate transmission problems, including overheating and slipping transmission.
  6. Manual transmission vehicles can experience issues with grinding when shifting or a clutch pedal that engages too low or too high.
  7. Proper maintenance, including regular checks of fluid levels and condition, can help prevent transmission problems.

Final Thoughts

A truck won’t move in any gear and features an automatic transmission is a tricky vehicle to run. These simple tips and tricks will help you resolve the more common problems and avoid them. Take good care of your vehicle to keep it in perfect operating condition as your life and safety depend on it.


Here are some popular FAQs:

What Makes Automatic Vehicles Incapable Of Changing Gears?

One possibility is there isn’t enough transmission fluid. Inspect the fluid level regularly to know when it is low and can refill it.

How To Troubleshoot An Automatic Powertrain Issue?

Some indicators indicate that your gearbox needs to be replaced: burning smell, the CEL remaining illuminated, trouble switching gears, a dragging clutch, and leaking fluids. If you observe these symptoms, you should have your vehicle inspected right away.

Why Is The Transmission Not Working?

It might be attributed to various causes, including poor maintenance and extreme gas mileage. Regular check-ups would help a lot in preventing this.

What To Do When Automatic Gearbox Goes Into Gear But Won’t Move?

This might be a problem with the gearbox control solenoid. Bring your truck to a mechanic’s and have the damaged parts checked. If required, replace them.

How Many Gears Do Big Trucks Contain?

19. Splitters separate the nine gears of commercial vehicles. The 19th gear is reverse. Pickup trucks have four to seven speeds, plus reverse. Meanwhile, CVT gearboxes do not have gears. They may, in theory, have an endless count of gears.

When Should I Replace The Transmission Fluid?

Every year, make it a point to cleanse your whole transmission system. This removes the old transmission fluid, allowing you to replace it with a fresh bottle. When diagnosing a truck that won’t shift, it was discovered that old or unclean transmission fluid contributed to shifting difficulties.

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