Q: Won't drive forward only reverse

asked by on

My car will not drive forward only in reverse what would cause this to happen?
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hello...there is a fault in the transmission of course. However, check your transmission fluid level first. If fluid is REALLY low, you could have an issue like this. There is a mechanical linkage in play when you shift into drive. Of course, that should be checked but inasmuch as reverse works, it appears that the linkage is not totally disconnected. If the fluid level and mechanical linkage are good, the next most likely fault is the transmission valve body.

Faults there are not unusual. Valves get stuck because the clearances are so tiny even a speck of dirt can gum things up. Valves can also wear and that will cause shift problems. Hydraulic pressure testing (on car) will identify some of these issues. If by chance, it is just a valve body issue, often that can be repaired without removing the transmission. Beyond the valve body, no or faulty shifting, can be caused by clutch pack failures, missing or torn o-rings and piston leaks and failures (pistons are hydraulically actuated components that operate the clutches).

Although you have a serious issue, there is a silver lining as you are not complaining of an intermittent transmission fault. In other words because the fault is "there" now, it can be found and probably reasonably quickly. Intermittent faults at least require more time and, worse, often "the luck of the draw". Keep in mind, transmission are relatively complex. The wisest repair course will depend not only on what is wrong "at this time" but also in your case the total mileage on the transmission and so you might have to consider the issue of whether a rebuilt will be the best long term solution. For example, you don’t want to spend "x" dollars on a transmission repair this year only to find out next year (if another failure elsewhere in the transmission occurs) that "x" plus another $500 could have gotten you a completely rebuilt transmission. So, the thing to do is get a professional’s opinion that covers all of your options so you can make the decision that is best for you. YourMechanic can get you a diagnosis of the shifting issue and at least an initial repair estimate.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Won't drive forward only reverse

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Truck shuts off when you turn headlight or turn signals on.

Hi there. Check all of the wiring from the headlight switch to the headlights and the turn signal switch to the turn signal lights. See if there is a short causing the lights to exceed the power limits causing the...

Q: Q: Car is overheating

The flapping noise may have been the serpentine belt breaking. Once the belt broke completely both the water pump and alternator stopped turning, thus accounting for both the overheating the charging light coming on. In all probability you just need...

Q: Q: Car not cranking

Hello. If your engine will not crank the most common cause is the battery. The battery should be load tested to see if it is bad. If the battery is fine, then I typically test for voltage at the small...

Related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...