Car Won’t Go In Reverse But Drives Fine: 7 Reasons & What to Do

Jerry Wilson
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Reasons Why Car Won’t Go in Reverse

What to Do About It

You’re late for work, but when you push the gas pedal, the car just doesn’t move. After some careful observation of your surroundings, you realize your vehicle isn’t in neutral. You’re just spinning your tires. Or are you?

Backing up is a different part of the process than driving forward. It’s really no surprise that your car won’t move in reverse, but it still can damage your transmission if you keep trying to force it to work it out.

To know if it’s a transmission issue or if your car just needs a little extra kick in reverse, check out the following tips:

Start the car in Neutal

Put the car in neutral and shift the gear to drive. Turn on the transmission fluid check valve to your transmission to ensure transmission fluid is reaching all of your gears. Push on the gas pedal and see if your car rolls in reverse. If you’re rolling, back up to an empty parking space.

Check Trans Master Cylinder


Worn out gear assemblies

One of the most inexpensive yet vital parts of a transmission is the reverse gear assembly. Located at the rear of the transmission, the reverse gear assembly works with the reverse motor to engage the portion of the transmission that moves in reverse.

It forms a type of reverse gearbox, with gears and steels working together, along with multiple clamps and shims.

The number of clamps and shims (which are ring-like thin pieces of metal) is usually dependent upon the number of gears in the assembly.

Under normal use, gears in the reverse gear assembly wear out. If they are worn, the driver may notice that the vehicle doesn’t go in reverse. In some cases, the transmission control indicator light may light up even when the vehicle is in Park.

The fix is a relatively simple one: Replace the worn out gears and steels with new ones from a parts store.

The parts you’ll need are the gears (there are usually between two and five gears in the reverse gear assembly, depending on the make and model of your vehicle), several metal plates and several plastic plates. These plates are the shims and the metal is for the gears.