What Causes a Transmission to Get Stuck in Gear (Problem & Solutions)

The frustration is immeasurable when our gears don’t change when we want them to. Many car owners or drivers have experienced this dreadful experience once in a while. 

According to NHTSA, 2% of car accidents are caused by mechanical failures of vehicles. 2% might seem like a little number, but imagine people losing their lives because of the faults of vehicles.

So, that’s why transmission getting stuck in gear is a consequential problem. But, what causes a transmission to get stuck in gear?

The reasons vary from the type of car or gear you have. The automatic gear has lesser reasons for your transmission to get stuck, whereas manual ones are pretty much faulty.

Let’s see why the transmission gets stuck in gear and how can you fix it.

Causes of transmission to get stuck in gear?

As we have mentioned earlier that the causes of transmission getting stuck in gear vary from type to type in transmissions. 

If your transmission is a manual type, then the reasons might be a low or incorrect level of oil inserted into the engine, the gearbox or gearstick getting stuck, clutch slips, etc. 

As for an automatic transmission, the reasons are limp mode and solenoid getting stuck.

What happens when your gear shift gets stuck?

When your gear shift gets stuck, you will be driving your car on that specific gear where the transmission has stuck. It often becomes a horror for most people.

You can’t change your gears, meaning if you’re stuck in 4th or 3rd gear, you will be driving the car in that gear the whole time. And we all know what happens when we can’t control the speed of our cars. 2nd and 1st gear are the safest. We should be calm when our gear shift gets stuck. Otherwise, we can end up hurting ourselves severely.

What do I do if my transmission is stuck in gear?

When your transmission ever gets stuck in one gear, you need to stop your car first. Although there are some scenarios.

If your transmission gets stuck in 2nd gear, you need to keep going. Your car won’t go beyond a specific speed limit and the speed limit is safe for driving,

But if they get stuck in 1st or 3rd gear, you need to engage the clutch and after that engage the brake until your car stops completely. While you have your foot still on the clutch, turn off your car.

How to solve stuck transmission in gear?

When your transmission gets stuck, try defrosting it by changing the gear shift. It’s most likely not to change. Still, you should check if it’s working or not.

Try to go in the park or neutral gear and let the shut off for 30 to 50 minutes. Though it isn’t the most effective way. The most effective way would be to change the transmission fluid right then.

Why is my transmission stuck in 1st gear?

Transmission stuck in 1st gear can be frustrating as 1st gears are always stuck to 10 km/h speed. But the speed we are talking about here is pretty low. You need to stop your car first to see what went wrong with your car.

The causes of your transmission is stuck in 1st gear would be problems with the gearbox or the gearstick. Normally limp mode doesn’t stick your transmission to 1st gear. They usually get stuck to 2nd and 3rd gear.

So, the problem with your 1st gear would most likely be something wrong with the gearbox or the gearstick.

Transmission stuck in 2nd gear

Transmission stuck in 2nd gear is mainly caused by limp mode or solenoid getting stuck. In other words, automatic transmissions are most likely to be stuck in 2nd gear.

When you are stuck in 2nd gear, you can drive along as the speed limit is somewhat ideal for driving, which is 15 km/h. And if you want to halt your car, you can do it just like you can stop your car in 1st or 3rd mode.

Transmission stuck in 3rd gear problem

Transmission stuck in 3rd gear can be a horrific experience. Your speed limit would be 35 km/h on average.

The first thing you should be doing is stopping your car. You should never drive your car when your transmission gets stuck in 3rd gear. Stop the car using a clutch and brake simultaneously.

What causes a manual transmission to get stuck in gear?

Although we already told you the reason for manual transmission getting stuck, still let’s review it again.

Fault in gearbox or gearstick, low level or incorrect level of oil insertion, clutch, noise emanating from the transmission, and many more. 

Manual transmissions are the most faulty compared to automatic ones. But it’s easier to find and fix the problems in a manual transmission.

How to fix a transmission stuck in gear?

To fix your transmission, you probably go straight toward a car mechanic. It’s not always something you can fix on your own. 

Solving a transmission failure for a short period of time and fixing it up for good is not the exact same. You can’t deactivate limp mode on your own. Multinational automobile companies like Tesla offer you maintenance services like this.

Why would an automatic transmission get stuck in gear?

Many people still get surprised when they experience transmission failure in automatic gear. Although, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. There are two reasons why your automatic transmission gets stuck in gear. 

The first one would be having a stuck solenoid. The solenoid is the part that enables your car’s computing system to make you aware of mechanically changing the gears. If a solenoid of transmission gets stuck, then the transmission also refuses to shift up and down. 

Another reason for the automatic transmission to get stuck is ‘Limp mode’ getting activated for some faulty sensors. You have to change your gears through the solenoid and the solenoid needs proper readings to work accurately. But if your sensors can’t give accurate readings to your computing system of the car, then the car will go into limp mode, where it will stick to one specific gear.

How do you prevent cars stuck in gear automatic transmission?

Generally, the metal debris gets mixed up with the transmission fluid and when it gets into the solenoid, the debris gets stuck, resulting in the solenoid getting stuck.

So, to prevent cars stuck in gear automatic transmission, you need to clean your transmission fluid once in a while.

But the limp mode is something you can’t change manually all by yourself. You should go check it up by some automobile garage like North Star Auto Repair Center.


Transmissions getting stuck while driving could be a terrible trauma for us. That’s why we should never speed on roads or highways even if they are completely clear.

You know 2% of the road accidents are caused by a mechanical failure like transmission getting stuck, so we should know what to do when this happens and take measures before it happens. And when it gets stuck, we should go check it up by an automobile engineer or garage.

Leave a Comment