Facing issues with your Jeep not shifting gears? This common problem can halt your adventures. Let’s get into the reasons behind it and explore solutions to get you back on the road.
It’s one of the worst feelings in the world. You’re on your way to work, and your Jeep Wrangler won’t get above twenty-five miles an hour or starts bucking like an angry Bronco (car joke? Let me know in the comments below).
Unless you’re completely inexperienced with cars, you’ll probably associate these problems with a transmission issue.
Suggested Reading: 5 Common Jeep Wrangler Automatic Transmission Shifting
Jeep Wrangler Won’t Change Gears?
So what do you do when your Jeep Wrangler won’t change gears? In many cases, a gear-shifting issue in Jeep Wranglers or any other car can come down to two primary causes: a malfunction with the shifting linkage, or a malfunction with the transmission.
Issues with the shifting linkage can often be easily diagnosed and repaired for the cost of labor or maybe a bushing, but transmission issues are a different league of problems.
Stuck on the side of the road with a Jeep Wrangler that won’t shift? Here’s what you need to do.
Step One: Don’t Panic
The first thing that many people do when their car has a major malfunction, like refusing to shift gears, is get panicked or mildly hysterical.
Not only does this prevent you from effectively troubleshooting the vehicle, but it also doesn’t actually accomplish anything.
Instead, sit back and take a few deep breaths, remembering that not every issue with a Jeep Wrangler refusing to shift gears has to do with a blown transmission, and this fix might not necessarily put you out of pocket several thousand dollars.
Transmission Problems and Shifting Linkage ProblemsThe two causes of shifting problems most likely to be found in a Jeep Wrangler are related to the shift linkage and the transmission.
- Shift linkage: Shift linkage are the cables that connect the gearshift to the transmission, and when this linkage becomes loose or disconnected, it can prevent the car from accessing the transmission to shift gears. If your shift linkage is loose or disconnected, repairing it is often just a matter of tightening or reconnecting the cables, which can be done easily at a mechanic’s shop.
- Transmission: The other major source of problems when shifting gears in a Jeep Wrangler is the transmission. The transmission is what controls the amount of power being delivered to the wheel system of the car at any given time. Without a transmission, the car will not gain power or accelerate properly, which leads to the symptom of not shifting gears or not accelerating past a low speed.
While shifting linkage and transmission problems are often present with similar symptoms, one is a simple fix that can cost less than a hundred bucks, while a transmission repair can run upwards of thousands.
Step Two: Get the Jeep Wrangler to a Mechanic
This step is crucial because an inexperienced mechanic trying to do it yourself on a busted car transmission can accidentally cause more damage than was initially present if they don’t know what they’re doing.
While Jeep Wranglers are fairly simple to work on compared to some cars, such as those with German engineering, with any major repair involving safety, such as faulty brakes, transmissions, or engines, all but the most experienced laymen should defer to automotive repair professionals.
It is important to get your Jeep Wrangler towed if it is not shifting gears properly, as continuing to drive the vehicle while it is out of the correct gear can cause damage to the engine.
Also, the Jeep could accidentally slip in and out of gear while driving and cause a wreck. It isn’t worth the risk to save money on a tow bill to cause a dangerous situation on the road.
Step Three: Diagnose and Fix the Jeep Wrangler
If your Jeep Wrangler has a shift linkage issue, it’s often cheap and easy to fix.
Another issue can be the Jeep’s failing transmission. You have choices if a mechanic says your Jeep Wrangler’s transmission is bad.
Based on the transmission’s damage, age, and the Jeep’s state, you can fix or change it. If the fix is small or costs just a bit, it’s often good to repair.
But, often, fixing the transmission costs as much as a new one.
Just the labor for removing and replacing a transmission for repair can range from $500—$1200 without including the cost of repairs or parts, according to the Transmission Repair Cost Guide.
Cost of Replacing Jeep Wrangler Transmissions
The cost of replacing a transmission in a Jeep Wrangler can vary wildly based on year and model, as well as whether you get a salvage transmission or a rebuilt transmission.
Rebuilt types are made to match factory specs, but salvage ones come from crashed cars.
Each has its good and bad sides.
- Salvage ones are cheap but might not last long and often lack strong warranties.
- Rebuilt ones, like those by Jasper, can cost more but often come with better warranties.
Jeep Transmission Warranty and Recalls
If your Jeep Wrangler shifts wrong, think about warranties and recalls.
In 2009, Jeep called back some Wrangler AT models because of bad heat sensors in the gear box.
Ask a nearby dealer about warranty fixes if your Jeep is in this recall. Did you buy a new Jeep Wrangler from a dealer? You might have a long warranty that covers gears.
Lost your Jeep’s warranty paper? Call the dealer.
They might have your buy info and save you big repair costs.
Find out if your Jeep is still under warranty. Get checks and fixes at the buying dealer to use any deals or free fixes.
How to Prevent Gear Shifting Problems in Jeeps
Shifting issues are a common enough problem in Jeep Wranglers, but luckily, there are a few ways you can perform preventative measures in order to help ward off some of these issues in the future.
From having your transmission regularly inspected and serviced with oil to maintaining your cooling system to ensure proper cooling of transmission fluids, there are many methods for taking better care of your transmission. You can find some over on Mister Transmission.
Just being gentler on your Jeep while driving can make your transmission and shift linkage last longer and help you avoid costly repairs.
The two most important things to keep in mind when avoiding transmission problems in Jeeps or any other vehicles are maintenance and inspection.
Keeping your car well-maintained and staying on good terms with a mechanic you trust means that you can have your car checked over during routine oil changes to head off any potential issues before they put you out on the side of the road.
A Jeep Not Shifting Gears Isn’t the End of the World
While a potential transmission repair can spook even the most stalwart driver, just because your Jeep isn’t shifting gears doesn’t necessarily mean that the transmission is shot.
Before planning for the worst-case scenario, get your Jeep to the mechanic and see what’s up.