What is the Shift Indicator (Automatic Transmission) all about?
The shift indicator, or gearshift indicator, is a readout that indicates which gear your transmission is engaged in. Every vehicle with an automatic transmission has a shift indicator, whether it’s a digital or mechanical readout on your instrument panel or a lit or mechanical indicator by your console-mounted gearshift lever.
The shift indicator is attached to a shift indicator cable. The shift indicator cable moves the shift indicator’s position to accurately reflect the gear your transmission is engaged in. Many mechanical-style shift indicators are a needle that moves along a rudimentary track on the “PRNDL” display, which indicates whether your transmission is in Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, or Low gear. If the needle breaks, the track wears, or the needle becomes separated from the shift indicator cable, the shift indicator won’t display the proper gear.
Keep in mind:
- The shift indicator simply reflects what gear your transmission is currently in.
- If the indicator is not operating properly, your transmission will still function as it should though you will need to be aware of your shifter position before starting to drive.
- If your shift indicator is digital and stops working, you may need a wiring repair or a transmission sensor replacement to correct the condition.
The shift indicator is typically part of a larger component. If your shift indicator is mounted on the center console by the shifter, you may need to have the whole gearshift assembly replaced. If the shift indicator is on your instrument cluster, you may need to have the whole instrument cluster replaced as an assembly, which the mechanics at YourMechanic can do for you.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Shift Indicator (Automatic Transmission)?
- Readout doesn’t change when shifter is moved.
- Gearshift doesn’t reflect the actual gear your transmission is in.
How important is this service?
The shift indicator is an important device to ensure you operate your vehicle safely. Without a properly operating shift indicator, you can accidentally engage the wrong gear and potentially injure your car’s occupants or the people around you. Have your broken shift indicator repaired or replaced as soon as possible.