96 Chevy Cavalier Transmission Problem?

I have a 96 Chevy Cavalier with about 160k miles on it. Yesterday it started kicking kind of strangely from a dead stop to accelerating while in drive. This evening, after driving it both to and from work, when I backed in to a parking spot, it got stuck in reverse. The car was still pulling in drive and in reverse, it just seems like the gear shifter moves freely.

Idle seems fine, the vehicle just doesn’t want to go into park or drive anymore.

Is this just as simple as the transmission being blown, or could there be another problem?

Also, now that I’ve gotten the car turned off, it will not turn over again, since the vehicle won’t shift into park.

Sad times all around.

Have you checked the transmission fluid level? When is the last time you had the transmission fluid and filter changed?

Open the hood and on top of the transmission you’ll see the where the cable attaches to the transmission shift lever. The shift lever is held to transmission shifting rod by a nut.

See if that nut is loose.


It’s very unlikely that it’s a problem with the transmission itself. If Testers suggestion doesn’t help the problem may be at the other end of the shift cable at the shifter. The fact that it won’t start in park tells me the neutral safety switch isn’t even in the right position. Not a major fix. Something has come undone at one end of the cable or the other.