My Car Starts and Shifts but Won’t Move?

My Car Starts and Shifts but Won’t Move?

If your car starts but won’t actually move, you may have a fault in your transmission control system. This is especially true of vehicles that deploy automatic transmission systems. The underlying causes could be varied, such as low transmission fluid due to leaks, faulty clutch, faulty gears, wear and tear in the transmission links, or bad transmission control solenoid.

Why Won’t My Car Move in Any Gear After Starting?

A breakdown in one of the many components of the transmission control system is typically what stops your car from moving even though your engine is on. To narrow down which component, here’s a list of the most common underlying causes:

1. Low Transmission Fluid

A well-functioning automatic transmission unit holds up to 16 quarts of transmission fluid. If more than two quarts of this liquid leaks out, the system fails to maintain the required level of hydraulic pressure to function correctly.

If there are leaks in the transmission fluid and the car is running low, you’ll notice that your car won’t accelerate properly. Low transmission fluid can also lead to wear and tear, gear slippage, sluggish acceleration, heat buildup, and eventually, transmission failure. Faulty fluid transmission causes delayed gear shifting, or in extreme cases, failure to shift, resulting in a non-moving vehicle.

2. Clutch Failure

If your clutch makes squealing, squeaky, or growling sounds when you engage or disengage it, there’s probably a fault with the clutch, and it needs to be replaced. Clutch failure could also be a reason why your car can start and shift gears but won’t move.

3. Worn Out Shift Linkage

Loose external linkage, a stretched shift linkage, or other problems caused by rust, binding, or failing transmission mount can cause the transmission to jump out of gear into neutral. This will also stall your car after starting.

4. Problems with Planetary Gears

If planetary gears fail to manipulate speed and torque, and move in tandem as a set instead of individually; it could lead to malfunctioning of the gears and cause other transmission-related problems. If your planetary gears are wearing down, you may have previously noticed vibrations or odd sounds while driving.

5. Clogged Filter

Another reason for transmission system failure could be a clogged filter. If you can’t shift any gears once the car has stopped moving after heating up, then a clogged filter is probably the culprit. If you can hear a whining sound when you shift gears and the car stops, this is typically a sign of a clogged filter.

Sometimes, something as simple as checking your gear shift to see if it has been knocked into neutral can fix the problem. Your car will start moving again once this has been taken care of. But, more often than not, you’ll need to make a trip to the mechanic’s or a service center, to resolve transmission-related problems.