Gear indicator showing wrong gear

toyota
camry
transmissions

#1

A friend with limited resources is having a problem with her car, so thought I?d run it past the mechanics here. Here?s what she has said about the car.



2000 Toyota Camry

4 cylinder

Automatic transmission

130,000 miles



PROBLEM: Gear indicator shows Reverse when the car is actually in Drive



I asked her some questions and here are her answers:



Any symptoms in addition to the indicator showing it is in reverse when going forward?



A light came on that indicates I need a bulb replaced in the rear of the car. Got the same signal about a year ago and it was just the bulb. That time I had no other problems other than that one light. Today the car has not had that light on and it has not shown to be in reverse when driving forward.



Does the indicator show incorrectly for any other gear?

Just D and R



Any performance problems?

Had a tune up a few months ago and the car runs really good.



Any trouble changing gears?

No. I did a while back when I put the car in reverse, but I had the belts changed and that took care of that problem



Does it seem to be hunting for a gear when accelerating up hill or at other times?

I wasn’t getting much power going uphill until I had the tune up a while back.


#2

One possibility is broken transmission and/or motor mounts.


#3

Okay, I’ll pass that along to her. Thank you.

May I ask, how would a broken trans mount or motor mount affect the gear indicator?


#4

Marnet,

Referring to VDC’s suggestion on the mounts…

Is there a noticeable thump when shifting from Reverse to Drive or D to R?


#5

Roadrunner, I don’t know. I’ll have to email and ask her. When I get the answer I’ll post back. Thank you.


#6

Okay I’ve asked her two more questions and gotten these answers:

  1. Is there a noticeable thump when shifting from Reverse to Drive or D to R?"

No. The only clue something was not right was the light going back and forth between D and R

  1. I take it that the shift lever is in a center console stack and that the indicator is on the instrument panel and that whichever gear it is in the symbol for that gear lights up, right?

Correct.

So, no noises like would occur with broken trans or motor mounts. Merely the incorrect gear indicator lighting up, showing the car is in reverse when it is actually in drive. Anything other than or in addition to possible broken/worn trans and/or motor mounts that might cause the gear indicator to malfunction?


#7

There’s a single bulb mounted on a bracket connected to the shift lever. So when the shift lever is put into a gear, that bulb illuminates the little window on the shifter display to show what gear the transmission is in. It would appear that the bracket for the bulb has become loose from the shift lever. To gain access to the bulb/bracket, the bezel around the shift lever can be pried up on and popped off.

Tester


#8

Thank you Tester. I’ll pass that along to my friend.

I’ve asked her to clarify if the incorrect indicator lighting up is the little letters on the dash instrument cluster or down at the center console shift lever itself. I presume you are talking about the shifter itself???


#9

Sorry about any confusion describing this problem. I’m getting my info from my friend via email and passing it along to here. So I’m busy trying to get clarification from her as to exactly where the incorrect indicator light is, on the dash instrument cluster or the shift lever in the center console.


#10

The latest from my friend is the following:

My digital clock died as did one bulb on the instrument panel some time back and I was told it would be over $500 due to the labor of taking off the dash. I told them to forget it. I can live without the instrument panel lit completely…especially since I don’t drive after dark. I wear a watch and can look at it if I need to know what time it is. Took me a while to get out of the habit of glancing at the clock. Never realized how often I did that until it was no longer working. Now I have become adjusted to no clock.

So it sounds to me more and more as if the problem with the gear indicator light is some sort of loose wire, connection, or bulb inside the instrument cluster. I’m like her, for $500 labor, I’d learn to live without much or most of the instrumentation showing if and until it becomes a real issue.

Thanks again everyone.


#11

There should be two locations where she could check for the shifter position. One is next to the shifter handle on the consul and the other in the instrument cluster; Is this the case?
If so, does the one on the consul show the correct position?


#12

with broken engine or trans mounts, the transmission can move therefore making the shift linkage too short or too long causing the indicater to be off.


#13

Galant, I’m not sure. I’ve not gotten a clear answer about that yet. I’ll try asking her again. Thank you.


#14

Galant, in answer to your question, the owner’s answer is:

The one next to the shifter shows correctly; it is the one on the instrument cluster that was flashing back and forth between D and R.

Unless there is a way to access the instrument cluster without $500 labor to take off the dash, as was previously quoted to her regarding the clock not functioning, she’ll probably live with the gear indicator on the instrument cluster malfunctioning off and on.

If you or any of the others here who generously donote time and expertise have a relatively inexpensive solution, I’m sure the lady would be appreciative.

Thank you.


#15

I quote tester here;
“There’s a single bulb mounted on a bracket connected to the shift lever. So when the shift lever is put into a gear, that bulb illuminates the little window on the shifter display to show what gear the transmission is in. It would appear that the bracket for the bulb has become loose from the shift lever. To gain access to the bulb/bracket, the bezel around the shift lever can be pried up on and popped off.”

The above is true for when the consul indicator is off. I think the lights in the instrument cluster, each have their own bulb. Bulbs truning on would probably mean that one does not need to get to the cluster. There should be an electrical sensor in the consul next to the shifter that opens the circuit to the correct light buld in the cluster. That sensing system next to the shifter might need some alignment. Probably a 10 min job for someone who knows what he/she is doing.

Tester or anybody else, correct me if I am wrong.

Also could post/search on toyotanation.com forums. Lots of kids there messing with this system to change it to leds and such, so I am sure you will see some pictures and instructions.


#16

Oh, cool. Thank you for the info and the suggestion about the Toyota forums. I’ll pass this along.

By the way, my friend asks me to send her very appreciative thanks to all of you who have so generously replied with information and suggestions. And, as always, I too thank all of you.