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Car Not Moving Forward In Drive

Car Not Moving Forward In Drive? Why & How To Fix It

Driving your vehicle is supposed to be simple. When you change to “drive” on the transmission and press on the gas pedal or release the brake, the car should be moving forward. However, if you encounter an issue with your car not moving forward in drive it could be frustrating and you need to determine the cause.

The main reason for many cars not moving when the vehicle is in drive is related to a transmission malfunction. This is due to the connection not being made with certain gears and the vehicle will behave as if it is neutral. Having a transmission malfunction could be disastrous and should be taken care of immediately.

According to a recent survey, about 96% of all US drivers prefer automatic over manual. This makes a lot of sense, as driving an automatic vehicle is slightly easier. However, when the vehicle does not move forward in drive, you could have some frustrating issues. This article aims to help you understand them and fix these problems.

Why Is My Car Not Moving Forward In Drive – Top 5 Possible Causes

If you have transmission issues, you might already be scouring the internet to help you find a solution. Fortunately, we have done some in-depth research intending to find as many possible causes of transmission failures or stuck gears. Some of these have easy-fix solutions, while others could result in a replaced gearbox.

1. Stretched Gear Cable

automatic transmission
Photo by Pixabay

Problem: If your car does not want to stick in a specific gear, the culprit can often be a gear cable that has been overly stretched. When this happens, the gear does not stick and your car will act as if it is constantly in the neutral gear. It can often be the result of an older vehicle or one that has not been serviced when it should.

Solution: The best solution would be to inspect the cable and the transmission. You should be able to identify a stretched cable and a simple adjustment is all that is needed. Alternatively, you might want to visit your local mechanic to assist you in finding the fault. It should not be an expensive trip to your local mechanic.

2. Low Transmission Fluid

checking oil levels
Photo by Pixabay

Problem: Transmission fluid is important to lubricate the transmission and ensure that all the movements are smooth when gears are shifting. When transmission fluid is low, you will notice the jumping of gears and sometimes, the gear might not connect. You could find that the vehicle is stuck in no gear and this prevents it from moving forward.

Solution: The solution to this problem is easy. You will have to check the transmission fluid. Fortunately, replacing transmission fluid is simple and can be done with ease. You will have to check the levels and if you notice that it is low, you can easily replace it. It should not take that long to do. However, your service plan will often have this covered.

3. Faulty Speed Sensor

mechanic checking car
Photo by Pixabay

Problem: Do you know the component that indicates how fast you are driving on the dashboard? Well, this component has plenty of functions aside from indicating the traveling speed. Since it communicates with the ECU, it will transmit information to the computer of the car. The computer determines the gear the vehicle needs and could lead to jerking.

Occasionally, the sensor can be damaged from driving over bumpy terrains and this will cause some damage to your vehicle. Once the sensor is damaged, it does not transmit the correct information to the ECU, which means the car cannot automatically shift its gears.

Solution: The two main ways of fixing this issue is either to replace the speed sensor or to have it readjusted. Most modern vehicles have active computers that can be accessed by skilled mechanics. You might find that a reset of the sensor using a computer at your local mechanic can fix the problem.

4. Hydraulic Pump Failure

car on lift
Photo by Pixabay

Problem: Hydraulics is a vital part of the modern vehicle, and you will need to understand how the hydraulic system works. The hydraulic system is responsible for assisting in the gearing process, and could be faulty. A faulty hydraulic system will affect numerous other components of your vehicle and hinder the forward movement when shifting gears.

Solution: This could be a tedious and expensive fix, and you will have to visit your local mechanic. Once the mechanic looks at the hydraulic pump, they will immediately spot any faulty components, which will need to be replaced. It might be one of the more expensive ways you go to have your gearbox fixed when driving.

5. Worn Out Clutch Plates

clutch plate
Photo by Pixabay

Problem: The automatic vehicle does not have a clutch pedal for drivers to press. However, clutch plates are crucial, and your vehicle should have these to activate the different gears. The clutch will engage once you leave the brakes, and the vehicle should move forward as the clutch disengages. However, worn-out clutch plates could cause pauses or delays.

Solution: We all know how expensive it could be to replace a clutch on your car. You might need to deal with a worn-out clutch plate for a while, but we recommend having it fixed. If your vehicle does not have a smooth transition between gears, it could damage other components. It might also be a driving hazard.


What Are The Signs Of Low Transmission Fluid?

Transmission fluid is an essential part of your vehicle and could be responsible for your car not moving forward. Grinding noise in your engine is often a telltale sign that the transmission fluid needs to be topped up. You might also have a burning smell that could be combined with slipping gear when driving.

Why Does My Car Not Move Forward When I Press The Gas?

Many people do not understand how many components and functions are responsible for propelling a car forward. The gas pedal is only one of the components, but the gearbox and ECU also play a vital role. If your vehicle does not move forward, you are best to visit a mechanic to have them run down a list of possible problems.


An avid car enthusiast, I love spending time researching new cars and seeing how technology improves each year. With a passion for cars, I often find problems with certain vehicles and believe these should be addressed to ensure everyone can have a happy driving experience. I spend hours on the road each year and having driven numerous cars, I have encountered some basic and unique problems. I love sharing my knowledge and experience with you to help you prevent and even deal with some of these issues before they become fatal!!!

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