The PT Cruiser Won't Shift

Updated July 20, 2017

When your PT cruiser doesn't go into gear or doesn't move when placed in gear, the problem may not be the transmission, but may be caused by another problem. Narrow down the list of possible problems before taking it to the mechanic, and end up paying for expensive and unneeded repairs.

Turn on the vehicle and make sure you have removed the parking brake. Many people forget that they engaged the parking brake and this will prevent the car from moving when it is in gear.

Press the clutch all the way in and set the shifter to its first or reverse position if the transmission is manual. If the clutch pedal is not fully depressed the shifter will not go into gear. Disengage the clutch pedal and see if the car moves. Try all gears to start and move the PT cruiser. Pump the clutch pedal several times and try to place the shifter in gear without forcing the sifter. Turn the engine off, if this does not work and try to shift with the car engine off. If you can shift while the PT cruiser is off , then you probably need the clutch repaired.

Turn off the car, go to the front and look on the ground for fluid leaks.Check the transmission fluid levels in the PT Cruiser with an automatic transmission. Open the bonnet and look for the transmission dipstick next to the air filter. Be carefull not to confuse this dipstick with the oil dipstick. Refer to the PT cruiser owner manual to locate it if you cannot easily see it. Check the fluid levels with the car turned off but the engine warm. Remove the dipstick and clean it with a cloth, reinsert the dipstick and remove again. Read the level, and if the level is low, add some more transmission fluid.

Look for colour change of the fluid. If the transmission fluid smells burnt, and is a brown or black colour, this is an indication of transmission problems.

Look at the linkage, lever and bushings underneath the engine. Determine whether there is extensive wear on any of these parts. Early PT cruisers tend to have excessive wear on bushings and linkage causing gear shifting problems, and the problem can be misdiagnosed for a transmission problem by an inexperienced mechanic.

Ask two or three mechanics inspect the PT Cruiser to ask for a quote. Choose the most reliable, experienced mechanic who offers you a fair price for the repair. Ask all mechanics their estimated repair time.

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About the Author

Naoma Serna began writing in 2009 and has written for several online publications like Boomers Abroad and Point South Magazine. She is pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in French literature and has other specialized interests in photographic art, computer technology and fine arts.