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Toyota Corolla Gear Shift Not Working/Shifting/Changing

Car automatic gear shifter

One frequent reason for a Toyota Corolla’s gear shift not working is due to a faulty brake-light switch. The car requires the brake pedal to be pressed before shifting gears as a safety measure. If the brake-light switch fails, it won’t send the necessary signal to release the shift lock. To address this, inspect and, if necessary, replace the brake-light switch.

Another cause for gear shifting issues can be related to a malfunctioning shift lock solenoid. This component is responsible for locking the gear shift when the brake pedal isn’t pressed. If the solenoid becomes defective, it can prevent the gear shift from moving. Diagnosing this requires accessing the shift lock solenoid underneath the gear console and checking its functionality, leading to potential replacement.

Low transmission fluid levels can also lead to the gear shift not working properly. Without adequate transmission fluid, the gearbox may not operate smoothly or might refuse to shift at all. It’s crucial to regularly check the transmission fluid levels. If low, top it up with the recommended fluid type and inspect for possible leaks that might be causing the depletion.

Toyota Corolla Won’t Shift Out of Park

Automatic gear shift with chrome finish

Most modern Toyota Corolla’s (and other brands as well) come with advanced safety features. As a result, you’ll find that your Toyota won’t shift out of park position unless you apply the brakes. You’ll know your car has a problem when the gear shift remains stuck in place even after you’ve applied the brakes.

There could be two main reasons why your Toyota Corolla won’t shift out of park.

Parking on an Incline

Although not frequent, parking on an incline or hill might lead to this problem. The failure will occur when the car isn’t parked properly, as it may roll once you shift into park mode and release the breaks. This often results in the car’s total weight going on the parking gear, whereby the pawl will prevent gear retraction.

To prevent such a situation when parking on inclined lots, avoid taking your foot off the brake before applying the parking brake. Once you’ve applied the parking brake, take your foot off and move the shift into park. This prevents the car from rolling, thus allowing the parking brake to hold the weight as opposed to the gear and pawl.

To solve the issue, you’ll need to push the car a couple of inches towards the incline. Doing so will remove the car’s weight off the transmission, consequently relieving the overall pressure.

Check Your Toyota Corolla’s Brake Lights

Your Toyota could also have its gear shift stuck in park when there’s a problem with the brake light switch. If the brake light switch isn’t working, then your car won’t release the shift since it won’t know it’s your foot on the brake pedal. On most occasions, it’s either your brake light fuse that has an issue or the entire brake light switch.

Check whether the switch is plugged in and whether it’s functioning. You’ll need to replace the fuse or the entire switch system to get your car to shift out of park. Once you’ve changed the fuse or replaced the entire switch, your car will shift out of the park position.

Toyota Corolla Shift Not Working

Automatic car gear shifter in top view

The shift might fail to work for a number of reasons, as discussed above. However, if the fuse and the brake light switch are functioning normal, then you might be dealing with a shift interlock failure, as discussed below.

Shift Interlock Failure

Your Toyota’s brake-shift interlock is designed to prevent the car from shifting into drive or reverse, thus avoiding property damage or injuring pedestrians. This explains why you must apply the brakes to signal the shifter interlock that you want the vehicle to shift from the park position.

If your shift interlock system has a failure, then the gear shift will remain stuck in park, no matter how hard you step on the brake pedal. The good thing, however, is you can override the system and release the shifter in case of emergencies. Check on your Toyota Corolla’s manual for instructions on how to override the shift interlock system in case of failure.

Toyota Corolla Gear Shift Loose

Manual gear shifter in modern car

It’s normal for shifter bushings to wear out over time. This is mostly because shifter bushings comprise grommets and plastic bushings that provide a smooth tight feel, thus keeping the shifter firmly in place in the correct shift rail. While most gear shifter bushings will grow weaker over time, aggressive gear changing is likely to enhance the wear and tear process.

Copyright protected article by Know My Auto and was first published on Feb 16, 2021. .

You can choose to take the car to your local garage and have an expert look at the situation and replace the bushings or take the DIY path. If you opt to replace the bushings yourself, you’ll need a ¼-inch drive ratchet, screwdriver, and a metric socket to remove bolts and nuts and have access to the center console. Check on the bushings, install new ones, and lock the bolts and nuts tightly.

Toyota Corolla Won’t Go Into Gear

Automatic car gear shifter in park

Your Toyota Corolla might fail to go into gear for a couple of reasons, as discussed below.

Low Transmission Fluid

Low or leaking transmission fluid is among the major causes of gear transmission problems. The transmission fluid plays an integral role in keeping your Toyota’s moving parts cool and well lubricated.

Good thing you can use the transmission dipstick to observe the levels, smell, and color of your Toyota’s transmission fluid. If you notice a dark brown or black color and a burnt smell, you’ll probably need to work with a transmission specialist.

Electronic Sensor Failure

Most modern Toyotas are controlled by advanced computer systems. Therefore, in case your Toyota doesn’t go into gear once you step on the gas pedal, chances are your electronic sensor is faulty. The best idea is to consult with transmission experts who know a thing or two about computerized diagnostic equipment.

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Toyota Corolla Won’t Go in Reverse

Hand on automatic gear shifter going in reverse

Below are some of the reasons why your Toyota corolla won’t go in reverse.

Transmission Fluid Issues

Issues with your transmission fluids will almost certainly affect gear performance. Low levels of transmission fluids can lead to overheating as the gears won’t be as lubricated as needed. Among the first signs of low transmission fluid levels is the car’s failure to go in reverse.

A dirty transmission fluid might also hamper the performance of your transmission gears since it won’t lubricate them well enough. To solve this problem, you’ll have to flush the transmission fluid and replace it accordingly.

Other reasons your Toyota won’t go in reverse include damaged reverse gear teeth, spoilt transmission selector switch, faulty engine gaskets, and a worn-out transmission system. Once your Toyota doesn’t go in reverse, it is best advised to take it to an auto repair shop and have it checked for any underlying issues.

Toyota Corolla Not Changing Gears

Automatic transmission fluid cap

Modern Toyota cars come with an Electric Control Module (ECM) that acts as the brains behind automatic gear shifting. Below are some of the reasons a transmission might fail to shift gears as expected.

Transmission Fluid

The transmission fluid plays a huge role in the functioning of an automatic car. If the fluid isn’t at the right level or an incorrect type is used, then chances are your gears will be affected. As a result, you should check to ensure the transmission fluid is at the right level in case you have problems shifting gears.

ECM Issues

A problem with the ECM is also another reason for unsuccessful gear shifts. Any issues with the solenoids or sensors or a bad connection might hamper the ECM from functioning as expected. In case you notice problems with the ECM, it is highly advisable to make replacements as soon as you can.

Toyota Corolla Shift Lock Release

Woman looking over right shoulder with a hand on car gear shifter

Most Toyota models manufactured after 2010 come with a safety feature known as a shift lock release. Drivers must press the shift lock release button to move out of park. If the shift lock release gets stuck, you’ll need to turn on the ignition (but it isn’t necessary to start the engine). Next, remove the plastic cap on the shifter console.

Once the cap is removed, take a nail file, a screwdriver, or a key and insert it into the slot and press down (hold for a couple of seconds). You’ll then need to press the brake while pressing on the override. Finally, you can shift gears as you would in a normal situation.

Point to note, though, if you opt to perform the above steps with your car’s engine off, remember to switch to neutral to get it started.

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KnowMyAuto is the sole owner of this article was published on Feb 16, 2021 and last updated on .