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Why Is My Manual Car Stuck In Neutral?

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Have you ever been in a situation where your car is stuck in neutral? When you find your car stuck in neutral automatically, it is not safe to drive around. Not sure why or how that happens and what to do in such a situation? Worry not! This article covers everything you should know about such a situation so read on!

What Causes The Situation Car Stuck In Neutral?

There can be several reasons why your car is stuck in neutral. For example, your car can get stuck in neutral because of the low temperature during the winter seasons. In such a situation it will be as easy as heating the machine lightly to restore normalcy. You can put the gearbox in neutral and apply the handbrake. Then increase the RPG by accelerating the car while pressing the clutch pedal multiple times. Then turn off the car and switch it on after a couple of minutes and check if the gearbox is back to neutral.

Another issue that can cause a stuck gearbox making your car stuck in neutral is low oil levels. In such a situation a thorough checkup and top up of oil may be needed to bring the gearbox back to normal. 

However, if both of the above doesn’t seem to be the issue, check the fuses that regulate its use. Just a single non-working fuse is enough to create a block and make the car stay in neutral. A car stuck in neutral can mean different things for automatic transmission and manual transmission.

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1. In Automatic Transmission

When your car with an automatic transmission is stuck in neutral, it can be because of two reasons. The first one is a stuck solenoid that makes your car computer mechanically engage the gear changes and the other is your car being in “limp mode” because it has faulty sensors. 

a. Stuck Transmission Solenoid

Like mentioned above the automatic transmission in your car shifts gears because of the transmission solenoid. Your car’s computer keeps monitoring the speed at which you are travelling and the RPM of the engine using several sensors. These sensors then calculate the needed gear and send an electrical signal to the corresponding solenoid thus engaging the gear shifts. This function can be disrupted when at least one of the solenoids is stuck making your car get stuck at neutral. Over time debris and similar particles can get in between the solenoid, making it get stuck.

b. Your Car’s Transmission Has Activated “Limp Mode”

When the sensors of the car computer cannot detect the above-mentioned factors like the car’s speed and RPM in the engine for it to decide on gear, it goes to “limp mode”. Under this model, your car will simply shift to either second or third gear. This is a safety measure that lets you safely drive to a mechanic and get the sensors fixed so that the cat can go back to being normal. 

2. In Manual Transmission

When your manual transmission car gets stuck in neutral, the problem is most usually with the clutch cable. You can sometimes cure this condition by pulling the clutch pedal upward slowly and firmly. The cable may be badly damaged by rust, grime or overuse. Replacing the cable can be necessary in this case.

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How To Use My Manual Gearbox In Car?

The gearbox of a car is one of the most delicate tools. Using the gearbox in the best way means lower fuel consumption. The basic rules you need to follow to use them well are:

  • Release the clutch gently
  • Climb at the right time
  • Always start first
  • Take advantage of the gears in sequence, without skipping them

Following these simple rules can keep your car in the best condition and save you from issues like a car stuck in neutral

Common Issues Caused In The Gearbox

When the gearbox gets stuck it’s best to get it checked by a mechanic immediately. However, that may be impossible if this happens to you when you are in the middle of nowhere. It’s best to stop your car and call a tow truck in such a situation as driving your car with stuck gear is not at all safe. 

Many times a gearbox issue starts with a jam. This issue is mostly easy to handle. A malfunctioning gearbox cannot carry out the necessary manoeuvres to perform proper circulation. So it’s best to get the mechanism checked when your car is stuck in neutral. 

A locked gearbox usually means a failure in a car’s transmission. This can be a failed fuss and you can only fix this by replacing the fuse. Another reason for a locked gearbox can be related to the way you parked your car. Modern cars have a sensor that deactivates the shift lever when the handbrake is applied. This can lock the gearbox and removing the lock can’t be that hard. All you may have to do is deactivate the handbrake by pushing the vehicle a few centimetres. 

How To Fix My Car That’s Stuck In Neutral?

Fixing your car when it’s stuck in neutral differs from vehicle to vehicle and car model to car model. So providing a clear cut answer to this can be hard. This is mainly because the procedures of fixing can be different for manual transmission and automatic transmission. 

If your car is a manual transmission, more than saying “car stuck in neutral”, saying worn out clutch is more accurate. The worn-out clutch won’t disengage from the transmission making it look like your car is in neutral. If your car has automatic transmission, the problem could be that the lockout mechanism which is associated with the brake pedal has failed

You can first check if the shifting mechanism associated with the gearbox is intact in such a situation. If that does not seem to be the issue you can check the fuse and see if that’s alright. If these both do not seem to be the problem then you may have to get your gearbox replaced. 


Having a car that is stuck in neutral is not a desirable condition. The problem that caused this condition can be different depending on if your car uses automatic or manual transmission. This article has covered all the important topics that come under the issue of cars getting stuck in neutral. Hope you found the article helpful.