Car Stuck in Reverse? [Causes & Possible Solutions]

You start the car engine and shift the gear to drive, only to find the car moving backward. This can lead to a frustrating experience as you might not be completely acquainted with your car parts and how they function? In order, to handle such situations, it’s always better to have the basic knowledge of how to handle these minor problems.

In normal cases, the car should be able to move to the front and the back without any issues. If you find your car stuck in reverse gear, the main problem is something related to the transmission. Though this issue can happen to manual or automatic transmission, it is a common issue you will encounter with manual transmissions.

If your gear only keeps backing up, it can be due to a defective clutch or failure in the mechanical or hydraulic systems. You’re left with no choice but to analyze and find out what exactly is the problem and fix it immediately or tow your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop to get it fixed.

Transmissions Keep Your Car Moving

Whether you are using a manual or automatic transmission, they accomplish the same task. While transmissions and gears are complex auto components, the main goal of the transmission is to keep your vehicle moving in the direction you want. By transferring torque and power to the wheels, the transmission takes responsibility for maintaining the right speed and moving in the correct direction.

By switching the gear from drive to reverse, the transmission takes extra effort to reverse the normal path of motion fully. When shifting the gear to reverse, the hydraulic fluid system activates the clutch system for automatic transmission.

Next, the reverse gears connect with one another and lock or unlock the output transmission shaft, which helps move the wheels. For manual transmissions, the reverse gears are connected to one another when you move the gear system physically using a shifter. 

Car Stuck In Reverse: Possible Reasons 

Your car won’t shift gear to drive, and it’s impossible to get to your destination in reverse gear. Well, check out the reasons why you are facing such situations. 

1. Defective Clutch Cable

The clutch cable must be extended ideally for the reverse gear to function properly. If not, the clutch cable must be completely damaged by layers of grime or rust. Naturally, the cable gets worn out due to overuse.

How to fix it?

The best way to fix this is by slowly pulling the clutch pedal upwards in a firm manner. In case the cables are completely damaged, you’re left with no choice. You will have to replace the entire clutch cable with a new one. 

Replacing the damaged cables can be easily done in your garage even without any prior experience. You need to purchase the replacement cables and change the worn-down ones. If you are not aware of how to do it, you can go through online tutorials to get the work done or visit the local auto repair center to get professional assistance.

2. Bad Gearbox

Shifting gears is not a complex issue. However, during the reverse process, the gear sticks must move in the backward direction. Due to overuse, the gears might get damaged or misaligned, resulting in the gear system getting stuck in the reverse position. 

How to fix it?

If you notice any gear malfunction, open the transmission box and check carefully. A small change in alignment can be fixed by lightly tapping the affected area with any hard tools or a hammer. If the issue is due to severe damage to the gearbox, you will have to get the entire gearbox replaced. 

3. Faulty Gear stick

Look no further if you own a manual transmission and find yourself stuck in reverse gear. It simply has to be a physical issue with the gear stick. In most cases, the stick shift gets stuck in place due to rough use.

How to fix it?

Defective shifters need complicated repair works which can be hard to resolve on your own. However, you can temporarily sort the issue by taking off the top portion of the gearshift and forcefully attempting to move the gear to the neutral position. 

Keep in mind the shifter won’t stick to that position for long, and you need to look out for a permanent solution by taking your car to the local auto repair center. 

4. Low Transmission Fluid

One of the most common possibilities of being stuck in the reverse gear might be due to low or old transmission fluid. When your vehicle is running on low transmission fluid, the gear system does not have adequate efficiency in shifting the gear positions with ease. This results in the shifter slowly moving to the reverse position and getting stuck. 

How to fix it?

The easiest way to fix this problem in your garage is to check the transmission fluid level using a dipping stick. If you notice the liquid level is low, refill the fluid. Before doing this simple maintenance on your own, you need to know which transmission fluid is suitable for your car model and avoid overfilling the tank. Making a mistake with the transmission fluid or overfilling the tank can damage your vehicle. 

This is a temporary solution as the transmission remains closed at all times, and the reduction in the fluid level indicates the existence of a leak that must be addressed soon.

Though you can easily fill it up with the liquid on your own, it is advisable to take your vehicle to the nearest auto repair shop or consult a transmission expert to find out where the leak is and fix it. 

On the other hand, if the transmission fluid is filled with grime and dirt, avoid refilling it and get it completely flushed out with the help of an expert mechanic.

Get Your Car Fixed!

If your gear shift is stuck in reverse, there can be several reasons. This is why you need to check your vehicle thoroughly before attempting to do any repairs. 

While most issues can be resolved on your own, if the problem is related to transmission, you will have to get it fixed by a professional mechanic. No matter which gear you’re running in, the transmission helps the engine turn in sync with the wheels. Irrespective of the cause of concern, it is advisable to resolve the problem quickly to avoid further damages leading to a complete breakdown. 

Liam Dare

As CEO of, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.