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Car Won’t Go in Reverse: The Most Common Reasons for It

Car Won’t Go in Reverse: The Most Common Reasons for It

More often than not, you’re going to have your car in drive when you’re sitting behind the wheel of it. You’re going to want your car to move forward to get you wherever it is that you need to be. But every now and then, you’ll need to throw your car into reverse to back out of your driveway or to work your way out of a parking spot. And it’s going to be impossible to do it if you find that your car won’t go in reverse. It’s also going to be a cause for concern when this happens. Learn more about some of the most common reasons for this problem below.

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What Helps a Car to Go in Reverse?

Before we begin talking about why your car won’t go in reverse, it’s important for you to know what helps your car go in reverse in the first place. You have your car’s transmission to thank for this. The transmission in your car allows you to control your car so that you’re able to either drive it forward or put it into reverse. It adjusts accordingly based on what you tell it to do and springs into action to move your car forward or back based on your needs.


When your car won’t go in reverse, it’s usually because there is some kind of issue with your transmission. In some cases, it’ll be a minor issue that you can clear up without spending a small fortune. But in other cases, you might have to be prepared to shell out a decent amount of money to get your car to go in reverse again. Either way, it’s important for you to pinpoint the problem with your transmission so that you don’t get stuck driving around in a car that won’t go in reverse.

What Can Prevent a Car From Going in Reverse?

As we just mentioned, your car’s transmission plays a huge role in helping it to go forward and in reverse. It’s why you’re going to have to turn your attention to your transmission when your car won’t go in reverse. But as we also alluded to, there could be any number of things wrong with your transmission when you have a car that won’t go in reverse on your hands.


Generally speaking, there are dozens of transmission issues that can stop a car from being able to go in reverse on a regular basis. These issues might not prevent the car from moving forward, but they will stop it from moving backwards when you need your car to go in that direction. Check out some of the most common causes of a car that won’t go in reverse to see what kind of problem you might have on your hands.

1. Low Transmission Fluid Level

If your car won’t go in reverse, one of the first things that you’re going to want to see is whether or not you have enough transmission fluid in your car. If your car isn’t equipped with enough transmission fluid, it can cause overheating to occur within your transmission’s gears since they won’t be as lubricated as they should be. This can then take a toll on your ability to put your car into reverse.


Oftentimes, your car not going in reverse will be one of the first signs that you’ll see when you have next to no transmission fluid in it. If you ignore this issue and don’t do anything about it, it could also prevent other problems with your transmission and prevent you from being able to drive your car at all. It’s why you should investigate the issue sooner rather than later to see if you need to have transmission fluid added to your vehicle.


The good news is that this is a relatively easy fix that shouldn’t cost you too much money in the end. You may end up having to fix a transmission fluid leak somewhere in your transmission system. But as long as you catch this problem on the early side, it’s not going to be able to do too much damage to your transmission. You won’t have to worry about how you car won’t go in reverse for too long provided you take the time to fix the problem at hand.

2. Dirty Transmission Fluid

Your car might have plenty of transmission fluid in it at the moment. But that doesn’t always mean that the transmission fluid is doing its job. It’s going to have a tough time providing your transmission’s gears with enough lubrication when it’s all dirty and filled with contaminants. If your car won’t go in reverse, you should see if this might be the case and have your transmission fluid flushed as quickly as you can.


Over time, it’s not uncommon at all for transmission fluid to fill up with all kinds of debris, which can put a huge strain on your transmission system as a whole. You might struggle to put your car into reverse when the transmission fluid in it is on the dirty side. You might also find that your transmission filter will fill up with the contaminants found in the transmission fluid and make matters even worse for you. It’s yet another reason why you need to keep an eye on your transmission fluid and have it flushed and replaced accordingly.

3. Damaged Reverse Gear Teeth

If you have low transmission fluid or dirty transmission fluid in your car, you’re typically going to experience more than just problems backing up your cars. Those issues will often plague your entire transmission system and cause lots of problems with it. But this particular problem will allow you to continue to drive your car like normal—except when you try to put it into reverse.


If your car won’t go in reverse, you should take it to a mechanic and ask them to inspect your reverse gear. There is going to be a good chance that they’ll report back about how you have broken reverse gear teeth that are preventing your transmission from putting your car into reverse. This problem often affects those with manual transmission systems as opposed to automatic ones. But it’s worth noting that those with automatic transmissions can also be impacted by this issue.


You’ll usually hear your transmission might a loud clicking sound or a clunking noise when you try to put your car into reverse with a reverse gear that has broken teeth. It’s going to leave you no choice but to have the reverse gear replaced since it’ll be impossible to back a car up when its reverse gear has been damaged.

4. Bad Transmission Selector Switch

If you have enough clean transmission fluid in your car and your transmission’s reverse gear is working just fine, they’re not going to be the causes for your car not going in reverse. The next thing you’ll want to check out is going to be your transmission selector switch. It plays an essential role in your car’s ability to move forward and backward in your vehicle.


When you put your car into reverse, it’s your transmission selector switch that is in charge of sending a signal to your car’s computer letting it know that it needs to switch into the reverse gear. As long as your transmission selector switch is working, this shouldn’t be an issue. But if your transmission selector switch has gone bad, the signal that it’s supposed to send won’t ever reach your car’s computer and your car won’t go in reverse.


You might be able to get your transmission selector switch going again by putting your car into reverse several times. But even then, you’re not going to want to keep on driving around in a car when it won’t go into reverse consistently because of a bad transmission selector switch. Your only option will be to take your car’s transmission in for service to potentially have the switch replaced.

5. Worn Out Transmission System

In what would be considered a worst-case scenario, there might not be any one part in your transmission that is causing your car to not go into reverse. Rather, it could be a combination of a bunch of different parts of your transmission wearing out on you that are stopping it from moving backward when you want it to. This could force you to rebuild or replace your transmission to get things running smoothly again.


You might be able to salvage a worn out transmission system by taking it in for service and having a few minor repairs made. But if your car won’t go in reverse, it could be a sign that you may have a serious problem on your hands. You’re not going to have any choice but to bring your car to a transmission specialist to see hat they can do to save it for you.

6. Faulty Engine Gaskets

When your car won’t go in reverse, it’s almost always going to be because of something that’s happening within your transmission system. But we want to point out that there are also times when issues in your engine could be to blame for your car not backing up. If everything looks OK in your transmission system, you might want to investigate whether or not something like faulty engine gaskets could be stopping your car from going in reverse.


Worn down gaskets in your engine can stop the gears in your transmission from shifting smoothly like they’re supposed to. You might be able to fix this problem from replacing the gaskets with new ones. It’s unlikely that this will happen, but it’s worth checking it out if you can’t figure out what else could be wrong with your car’s transmission.

What to Do If Your Car Won’t Go in Reverse

Did you just notice that your car won’t go in reverse? If so, you might not know exactly what to do. Should you keep on driving it without putting it into reverse? Stick it in your driveway and refuse to drive it? Or do something else?


There are some instances in which you might be able to keep on driving your car even though your car won’t go in reverse. But in general, you should try to steer clear of driving a car that appears to be having transmission troubles. You could make the problem a whole lot worse if you have a car with low transmission fluid or another semi-serious transmission issue. You’re going to be much better off driving down to an auto repair shop to have your car looked at right away.

How Much Will It Cost to Fix a Car That Won’t Go in Reverse?

One of the top reasons why you might be worried when your car won’t go in reverse is because you think it’s going to cost you a fortune to fix things. But this isn’t always the case. If, for example, you need to have a transmission fluid change done to get your car’s transmission working like normal again, that’s only going to cost you around $200.


At the same time, there is, of course, a chance that you could have a serious transmission problem on your hands. If a mechanic tells you that your transmission is shot and needs to be replaced, you could be looking at paying anywhere from $1,000 to over $5,000 for a new transmission. That’s not a situation that you’re going to want to find yourself in anytime soon.

When a Car Won’t Go in Reverse, Should You Consider Getting Rid of It?

If your car won’t go in reverse and you know it’s probably not going to be worth fixing whatever the problem is with it, you might wonder what you should do with it. Is there anyone out there who will pay for a car with a bad transmission in it? Private buyers might balk at the idea of buying a car that seems to be experiencing transmission troubles. But junk car buyers won’t have any problem doing it.


Cash Cars Buyer specializes in buying all types of cars, including those with transmission issues. So if your car won’t go in reverse, you should give us a call and find out how easy it is to sell it. We’ll pay you top dollar for your car and prevent you from having to deal with transmission problems anymore. Contact us today to get an offer for your old car.