Truck Won’t Move in Any Gear Automatic Transmission! [Solved]

If your truck won’t move in any gear automatic transmission, some common transmission problems are the culprits.

The most common reasons why an automatic transmission truck won’t move in any gear are a faulty transmission control unit, a poor torque converter, worn-out clutches, inadequate transmission fluid, and a few more.

The solution for each problem will be different. Let’s walk you through the details of each cause and solution for a stuck-on transmission in any gear.

Why Won’t A Automatic Transmission Truck Move In Any Gear?

First, we will look at the reasons why a truck does not move even after being put in gear. Knowing the reasons then we will come to a solution accordingly.

Problem 1: Faulty Automatic Transmission Control Unit

Some of the common symptoms of a bad transmission control unit are transmission being stuck in one gear, transmission showing delayed shifting, erratic shifting, and more.

A transmission control module must work well because it determines the right time for your truck to change gears. If it malfunctions, the transmission won’t upshift or downshift when needed.

How will you recognize that your truck has a faulty transmission control unit?

It’s easy. You’ll notice incorrect gear readings on the dashboard. Also, when the control uni malfunctions, it doesn’t seem like your truck is changing gears.

But this problem can also show up if your truck has a failing battery because a damaged battery doesn’t have enough amount of power.

Solution: Repair or Replace The Faulty TCM

Since the problem might be associated with a failing battery as well, first, check whether your truck battery has enough charge or not. If it’s adequately charged, then you may need to replace the TCM (Transmission Control Unit).

Both repairing and replacing a TCM require professional help. So, call for help as soon as you diagnose the issue.

Problem 2: Poor Torque Converter

A torque converter does an important job for your vehicle; it transfers energy from the engine to the wheels. The most common reasons why the torque converter is faulty are:

  • Excessive friction
  • Degraded needles of the converter
  • If you use junky transmission fluid
  • If there’s a dirty filter installed in the truck

These causes can lead your torque converter to get damaged. Luckily, it’s easy to diagnose a broken or malfunctioning torque converter. Here are some common causes:

  • High stall speeds
  • Transmission slippage
  • Overheating transmission
  • Shuddering or humming noises
  • The vehicle doesn’t start in any gear

If things are this bad in your vehicle, you need to take proper action.

Solution: Replace The Faulty Torque Converter

Sometimes, the key problem is different and it leads you to have a faulty torque converter. For example, if you notice the transmission starting to slip or shudder, you have to check the fluid level first. If there’s the right amount of fluid, you need to inspect the converter then.

Also, an inadequate amount of fluid can cause the transmission to overheat. So, make sure that these things are okay.

If not, the key problem is with the torque converter and you need to replace it. However, a torque converter is one of the most expensive parts of your vehicle, so it will cost quite a lot to replace this part.

On average, the price range of a torque converter is within $100-$600. If you can replace it yourself, there’s no service cost needed. But if you call a professional mechanic, the charge may be anywhere from $500-$1,000.

Problem 3: Worn Clutch

The clutch helps to connect the transmission to the engine. Also, it enables and disables the transmission of your vehicle. But when the clutch malfunctions, your truck transmission eventually will fail.

There are two plates that make up the clutch; friction plates and steel plates. These plates can damage over time which results in a lower pressure supply to the planetary gears.

Therefore, a worn-out clutch can affect your power transmission and lead your truck not to move in any gear.

Solution: Replace The Clutch Plates

Don’t drive your vehicle after you notice it has worn-out clutch plates. Talk to a professional and let him remove the faulty parts. Professional help is important because replacing the clutch plates is difficult. And, an improper process can cause further damage to your vehicle.

The parts of a clutch can cost around $700 and the service cost can be around $600. If you opt for a complete clutch kit, it can cost around $800. 

Problem 4: Insufficient Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is required for any type of transmission to operate properly. When the fluid generates hydraulic pressure, the pressure spreads the energy from the truck engine to the wheels.

As you can guess, if there’s a shortage of transmission fluid in a vehicle, the gear system does not get the power needed to move. There’s a recommended level of fluid specified for individual vehicles.

So, you must ensure the level of fluid level or the lacking will cause different problems like slow gear engagement, burning smell, slipping gears, and more.

Solution: Check for Transmission Leaks and Check the Fluid Level

Sometimes, the problem is there is a transmission fluid leak that you need to seal. If you find that the transmission fluid is leaking, inspect from where it is leaking (e.g from the gearbox, torque converter, or transmission pan) and fix it from that specific place.

It’s also crucial to change the transmission fluid once in three years. If you can’t do it, do a transmission flush at least (note that you must avoid transmission flush if the fluid is dark black in colour, or it may cause your transmission to damage).

Check the fluid level regularly and make sure it’s up to the recommended level.

Also, make sure the quality of the fluid is good. If you notice the transmission fluid getting yellow or dark brown in colour, change the oil and the transmission filter.

Problem 5: A Damaged Automatic Transmission Valve Body

A transmission valve outputs a signal to engage the clutch of your truck and shift at the right time.

If the automatic transmission body malfunctions, you’ll notice symptoms like shift flares, incorrect shifting, and gear slippage when there’s a failing valve body. And the most common symptom is that your truck won’t move in any gear.

The transmission valve is made up of solenoids, valves, and passageways that transfer transmission fluid for gear changes.

If there’s a damaged valve body, the power supply from the gear system to different parts of your truck will hamper.

Solution: Replace The Damaged Valve Body

Neither the repair nor the replacement of a transmission valve body is easy. Also, it’s not cheap as well. The parts of a valve body alone can be around $250-$500 of price. And, you have to spend $300 or more on the service cost.

What Should I Do If My Truck Won’t Move in Any Gear?

When you know the causes of a problem, it becomes easier to solve. Since we have learned why an auto transmission truck does not move despite being in any gear. Now we can come up with a solution accordingly.

Stage 1

Turn on the truck and apply the brakes. In this way, even if the car is in gear, it will not be able to run.

Stage 2

If your truck has a manual transmission system, you need to engage the shifter with gears. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the shifter into gear if you don’t press the clutch significantly. Disengage the clutch pedal when you put the shifter in gear. Otherwise, it can affect the gear.

Stage 3

In this case, if you have trouble starting the truck, try shifting the gear. It may even work if you don’t go into reverse gear. Thus, you can easily understand where the problem is.

Stage 4

At this stage, you need to check if your truck has enough transmission fluid. For this, find the dipstick of the truck. If you can’t find the location of the dipstick, check your truck’s manual.

Now check the transmission fluid. When this episode is complete, grab the truck’s brakes and turn them on. If you see that the level of fluid has decreased, add the appropriate amount of fluid.

If the problem is caused by insufficient transmission fluid, then it will not be seen again. Because you add fluid and bring its level to a tolerable level.

How to Prevent Automatic Transmission Problems?

If you do not take quick action, the problem of automatic transmission trucks can be even more complicated and expensive. For this reason, you can avoid the problem by following the following steps to avoid all such troubles.

Warm Up Your Truck

You should warm up the truck for only 30-60 seconds in the morning on winter days. It helps the transmission fluid to flow through the gears properly and get them ready for driving.

All the moving parts of your vehicle should be lubricated properly and warming up helps it on those chilly winter days to prevent any damage to the parts.

Check the Transmission Fluid Regularly

The transmission fluid should be fine by its colour, smell, and level in your vehicle. You already know that a transmission needs the right type and level of fluid to prevent the gears from grinding.

So, it’s a must to keep the fluid up to the necessary level. The fluid should be reddish-pink in colour. But if you find it’s dark brown and it smells bad, know that the thing needs replacement.  

Switch The Gears Properly

Improper shifting between gears can cause serious damage to your vehicle. You must get the job done in the right way to keep your transmission functioning well.

Avoid hitting the gear shifter into reverse when you drive and be gentle while changing the gears.

Tow Carefully

If you tow beyond your truck’s capacity, this overloading thing can lead your vehicle engine to overheat. Also, towing in hot weather can make the transmission fluid hotter, which can cause further transmission problems.

So, be very careful when you tow. Don’t ever tow something that exceeds the tow rating.

Prevent Automatic Transmission Problems Infographic

Conclusion

When an automatic transmission truck does not move on gear, there are several reasons behind it. Specify the right reasons first then take action accordingly.

Test the level of transmission fluid and add if needed. Check the battery and its connection so that the automatic transmission control unit can supply the power to the truck.

These are the most common reasons. Apart from these, there may be even more complicated that prevent the truck from moving in gear. Whatever the problem, the solution is possible if appropriate action is taken.

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William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news