Car wont shift out of neutral



My 02 Alero will start, but when I went to put it into reverse it looked into neutral and wont come out. I can move the gear shift but it won’t come out of gear.


It “looked into neutral”?
Did it like what it saw?

I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, I think you are trying to tell us that the transmission does not engage, and the car will not move.
Is that correct?
If that is the case, the first thing that you need to do is to check the transmission fluid dipstick.
You want to see a reddish fluid that is up to the “full” mark on the dipstick when the engine is warmed up.

If the fluid level is low, that could certainly explain an inability to move the car.
If the fluid is any color other than red, and/or if it has a burnt odor, that would also explain the problem–albeit with a higher price tag for resolution.

Please start your engine, make sure that the trans is in “Park” and that the e-brake is set, lift the hood, and check the fluid level. Then, come back here to report your findings.


An actual transmission failure is one possibility as VDCdriver suspects.

I was also wondering about the shift linkage. The shift lever is one end of a chain of things the other end of which is on the transmission. That could be broken.

So you’re going to have to figure out better what is going on. If the shifter in the car is actually changing the gear position at the transmission then your transmission is “neutraling” but not “in neutral”. If not then you just need to figure out what part of the linkage is bad & fix it.


The linkage had came apart. Thanks for all the help!