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Why Your Jeep Grand Cherokee Won’t Move in Gear- How to Fix?

Jeep Cherokee is a popular vehicle, but it’s not without its problems. You might have faced the gear movement issue with their Jeep Grand Cherokee. Sometimes, the gears won’t move. So, why can’t the Jeep Grand Cherokee move in gear?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee won’t move in the gear due to:

  • Low Transmission Fluid
  • Broken or Bad Transmission Linkage
  • Failed Engine Computer
  • Dirty Transmission Fluid
  • Fault in Shifting the Lock
  • Lousy Torque Converter
  • Misalignment of the Gear
  • Issue with Transmission Valve Body

The automatic transmission in the Jeep Grand Cherokee requires hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical systems to shift into the gear. Issues with all these mechanisms can refuse the gear from working.

Here I will discuss why your Jeep Grand Cherokee won’t move in gear and how to fix that problem.

Contents show

Why Won’t the Jeep Grand Cherokee Move in the Gear?

I have created the infographic below explaining why your Grand Cherokee won’t move in gear. (You are welcome to use and share, but please credit back if you do so.)

Why Your Jeep Grand Cherokee Won't Move in Gear- How to Fix

There are some reasons why gears won’t move into the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Some of them are:

1. Low Transmission Fluid:

Transmission fluid is absolutely essential for your car to maintain lubrication and cooling. Therefore, low transmission oil levels should be your first suspect when experiencing such issues as not being able to move your jeep into gear.

Low transmission fluid means there is a high chance that your car will become stuck. This could also lead to issues with your engine light coming on and mixing with other unusual sounds your car might make.

2. Broken or Bad Transmission Linkage:

The transmission linkage, either in the case of an automatic or manual transmission, can be disconnected through an unlikely error seen between the shifter in the cabin or the transmission.

Likewise, the shifter cable can be broken down or dislodged for various reasons, like a rough bump or an accident on the road.

You can adjust the clutch pedal cables or the hydraulics of the vehicle if the clutch pedal sinks to the floor before you feel the clutch bite point. This system is seen in the standard transmission of the vehicle.

3. Failed Engine Computer:

The automatic transmission in the vehicle is mostly controlled by the ECU (Engine control unit). ECU uses information like the engine’s speed or detects the throttle position to determine the transmission shift.

If there is something irrelevant that the engine control unit cannot control, the transmission experiences trouble and gears won’t move in.

Replacing or resetting the ECU is recommended in this case.

4. Dirty Transmission Fluid:

A moderately clear transmission fluid is required for the transmission. Sometimes, dirt and debris accumulate in the transmission fluid and affect the properties of the fluids.

This can cause the vehicle to die and shifts the drive-in reverse. In addition, it allows a significant loss of power, slipping of transmission, and prevents the vehicle from shifting to gears.

You can replace the dirty transmission fluid according to the schedule of maintenance of the vehicle, as it ensures the transmission’s longevity.

5. Fault in Shifting the Lock:

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a shift interlock feature. The interlock system comprises electrically controlled solenoid and safety switches combined with the brake light that will lock your shifter. You can press the brake pedal and turn on the ignition to unlock the shifter.

The transmission doesn’t allow a person to shift out until it detects a person sitting in the driver’s seat. This scene is typical with the vehicles having an automatic transmission and a shift-lock mechanism.

If there is a solenoid fault or the brake light switch doesn’t adjust properly, you cannot shift the gear.

There are shift locks with automatic transmissions that can override. You can consult the manuals about your transmission working or insert the key to release the lock.

6. Lousy Torque Converter:

If you own a Jeep with a 42RE or 42RLE 4-speed automatic transmission made after 2000, you may have issues with the torque converter clutch or overdrive engaging sporadically.

This issue usually leads to a ‘check engine’ indicator in ECU memory.

The pressure boost valve is located on the bottom of the valve body and is held in place by a cover plate that can be broken due to poor design. Consequently, the retaining bracket that secures the lockup pump will break off. This pops up a P1740 code.

7. Misalignment of the Gear:

A misaligned gear set is a significant problem that can prevent you from going anywhere. If the gear set is out-of-aligned, it won’t engage appropriately, and your Jeep will not move.

Prolonged car use, for instance, can cause these preventive maintenance problems. In addition, wearing out gears or failing bearings can cause noise and depositing of unwanted metal dust and thus harm the transmission of the Jeep.

8. Issue with Transmission Valve Body:

The transmission’s valve body can cause your jeep to not move with shifting gears. It may refuse to work correctly due to dirty transmission fluid and getting clogged by the gradual degradation of the hydraulic channels.

Some malfunctions in the car's valve body will manifest themselves by causing the vehicle to shake or stall when shifting gears and can also cause a broken valve spring. You may also experience limp mode or transmission failure. 

A valve body repair is similar to a torque converter repair in that it typically requires the removal of the transmission. Unlike other repairs, however, it is much more complicated.

9. Worn-Out Clutch in the Transmission:

A dragging clutch puts an additional strain on the manual transmission of the vehicle. This can cause a problem with the pedal linkage of the clutch. Power is not received when the clutch disc allows the transmission to slip or appear in gear.

A clutch disc is a wearable component that requires a replacement on the vehicle. For example, you can replace the clutch disc if it starts to slip, lose power, or shift the manual transmission.

10. Bad Synchronization of the Transmission:

Synchronization is an essential component in standard transmission. It helps to spin the gears rapidly to mesh them together smoothly. Unfortunately, these synchros can wear out due to aggressive shifting and driving with heavy-footed riders.

The transmission starts to grind during the shifting of gears. In addition, the transmission begins to pop out of the gear, making it challenging to shift the gears. You can replace the bad synchros with affordable choices or rebuild the new transmissions.

Interpreting the Transmission Diagnostic Flash Codes:

Now, let me provide you the list of Transmission Fault Codes for Jeep Grand Cherokee:

Diagnostic Flash Code


Code 11

No Engine Speed Sensor Signal

Code 12

No Output Shaft Sensor Signal

Code 13

No Vehicle Speed Sensor Signal

Code 14

Governor Pressure Sensor Signal

Code 15

Throttle Position Signal

Code 16

Transmission Temperature Sensor

Code 17

Overdrive Off Switch Circuit

Code 18

System Voltage Out of Limits

Code 19

Standby Voltage Out of Limits

Code 21

Governor Pressure Solenoid Circuit

Code 22

3-4 Solenoid Circuit

Code 23

Torque Converter Clutch Circuit

Code 24

Overdrive Off Lamp Circuit

Code 25

EEPROM Checksum Error

Code 26

Governor Pressure Sensor Offset Drift

Code 55

End of Message

You may not have enough technical know-how to fix the problems yourself indicated by the flash codes, but now you can better understand where to look for help as you seek a mechanic.

How to Fix the Jeep Grand Cherokee Transmission?

You can solve the problems of the transmission of the Jeep Grand Cherokee through the following ways:

Fix 1: Buying a Used Transmission for Jeep Grand Cherokee:

It is one of the quick ways of fixing transmission problems. You can buy a used transmission which is seen at the junk yards. They hold a warranty of 30-90 days.

You cannot exactly determine the actual condition of the internal components but a warranty can cover the defects of the transmission and labor costs are also covered in it.

Fix 2: Purchasing a Rebuilt Transmission for Jeep Grand Cherokee:

You can also rebuild the transmission instead of purchasing it. A local repair shop can help you in this aspect and can remove the transmissions for you.

You can install new parts during the rebuilding process. The skills of the rebuilders that work for rebuilding the transmissions vary so sometimes, there can be a problem in adjusting the issues.
The repair shops for transmission also cover the 1-2 years of warranty.

Fix 3: Buying a Remanufactured Transmission for Jeep Grand Cherokee:

There is also an option of remanufactured transmission for the users. The owners of the vehicle depend on the commuting of the vehicles.

There are gasoline engines that are designed for covering up to thousands of miles so you can invest in the remanufactured transmission of the Jeep.

How to Detect that Transmission Will Not Shift to the Gear in Jeep Grand Cherokee:

Various signs indicate the problem that the automatic transmission will not shift into the gear:

  • Sometimes, the transmission shifts to the first and second gears due to an error. But it becomes challenging to shift to the third gear. As a result, when the gear is pushed to the third gear region, it sometimes slips to the neutral one.
  • The automatic transmission also sometimes becomes unable to shift to the third gear. Instead, the third gear glides between the first and second gear and repeats the cycle. It stays there for seconds, and one tries to push it harder to the third gear.
  • The catalytic converter, in this aspect, touches the side of the body area of the valve. Therefore, it results in overheating of the transmission, which creates metal shavings.

What to do When the Automatic Transmission Fails to Shift to the 3rd Gear?

A functional auto gearbox shifts the gears up and down and rests according to the appropriate commands. An internal hitch affects the performance when it fails to do so.

This issue can lead to the failure of transmission if the signs indicating them are ignored for a longer time.

Let’s see some possible reasons why automatic transmission fails to shift to the third gear:

1. Low Fluid Level Issue:

One of the major causes of the gear that leads it to stick and indicates the lower levels of fluid is due to overheating. Overheated transmission is the major culprit. Lower fluid levels are a significant source of transmission-related issues.

The first response is to check the transmission oil. You can check out the input and output shaft seals and leaks if the levels are low. You can check the fluid lines and cooler too. It is recommended to flush out the old oil in case of no leak and can refill the container.

You can check out the transmission oil to avoid the gear-sticking issue. If the fluid level is low, you can check out the input and output shaft seal.

In case of no leak, you can flush out the old oil and refill the container. It is advisable to check out the radiator and coolant fluid. There are chances that the cooler might leak out and can spoil the radiant coolant.

2. Checking the Cables of the Throttle:

Most of the issues will likely be solved through fluid change. But if the automatic transmission is still not shifting to the third gear, there might be an issue with the throttle cable.

The defect in cable with an excessive slack can create issues with the smooth shift of gear and stall the shifting.

3. Examining the PCM:

PCM, known as a powertrain control module in the wrong way, can affect transmission performance. It is responsible for controlling the gearbox mechanism in vehicles.

If the sensor speed fails, the PCM produces no input, and transmission fails to shift correctly. You can check the speedometer to keep an eye on its functioning and can replace the VSS.

Replacement Cost of Automatic Transmission of Jeep Grand Cherokee:

It is clear now that most of the associated gear shifting problems are due to the fault in transmissions. Most people prefer to repair the transmission or replace it with the new one. A fresh and new installation can prevent other complications. But this proposition can be a costly one for you.

The starting cost for replacing the Jeep Grand Cherokee transmission ranges between $2500-$3500, which can change according to the location. You should ask for the best service or warranty from the dealer.

The rebuilding of the existing transmission can cost between the average price of $1500-$1800. However, this rebuilding is not recommended as it can malfunction again.

Preventing the Failure of Gear Engagement in the Jeep Grand Cherokee (Maintenance):

The gear engagement can fail in the Jeep Grand Cherokee due to an aggressive drive or lack of maintenance. However, you can keep all these components in good working condition for a longer duration through the following tips:

  • Warm up your vehicle before accelerating it in the winter season. Use the first gear when the transmission is not warmed up, which will keep the speed of the engine low.
  •  You can shift the transmission to all other modes while remaining in each one for about 5-10 seconds. The hydraulic channels can get the oil through this mechanism.
  •  You should ensure that the transmission oil is of the best level and quality. Changing the transmission oil in the Jeep Grand Cherokee is recommended every 30,000-60,000 miles.
  •  It is recommended to avoid the towing of automobiles until or unless there is an emergency. The automatic transmission of the Jeep can handle the weight of the vehicle. The structural elements of the transmission break down with an increase in mass.
  •  It is recommended not to drift on icy and slippery roads.

Final Thought:

If your Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t shift in gear, it might be a good idea to have a mechanic take a look and try to solve the problem.

You may have to replace the transmission, which is a rare occurrence. However, knowing the background to troubleshoot a problem is always beneficial.

Especially keeping track of error codes can make it easier for you or the tech to find the root cause easily.

Also Read:

12 Reasons Why Jeep Grand Cherokee Won’t Start- How to Fix
What Wheels Interchange with Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Jeep Grand Cherokee Power Liftgate Problems And Fix
How to Reset Jeep Grand Cherokee Warning Service?
8 Reasons Why Jeep Key Fob is Not Detected- 6 Tips to Fix
Jeep Grand Cherokee Transmission Over Temp Problems: How to Fix
GPS Not Working on Jeep Grand Cherokee: How to Fix?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What are the reasons that hinder the shift into the gear?

The reasons that hinder the shifting of the vehicle to gears include the accumulation of debris or dirt in the transmission fluid.

It can affect the properties of the fluid and can cause the vehicle to diet during shifting into drive. It also causes problems during rough shifts and prevents cars from shifting into gear.

Why does the Jeep not change into gears?

The Jeep sometimes delays changing the gears due to low transmission fluid or due to a dirty filter of the transmission.

In addition, stuck-up pressure in the solenoid prevents the transmission from keeping proper fluid pressure. As a result, it can affect the shift to third. The problem can also be due to bad wiring or a sensor failure.

How much does it cost to fix a transmission on a Jeep Cherokee?

The average cost for fixing the transmission replacement parts ranges between $3000-$4000.

When a driver is put into reverse, why does it hinder the car's movement?

The issue in the movement of the car can be due to the jammed brakes or cylinders filled with brake fluids. A person can seek help from a professional if they face any vehicle movement issue vehicle.

What can a person do if the gears do not work?

First, it is advisable to take the vehicle immediately to the mechanic if the gears need to be fixed. After that, you can seek help from the service center or replace damaged units.

What are the reasons for not shifting the transmission properly?

The main reason behind the improper transmission shifting is a bad ECM. The best way to avoid such a situation is to seek help from a mechanic who is an expert in the electrical system.

What are the causes of shifting problems?

The causes of shifting problems include the low transmission fluid. The contaminated fluid in vehicles experiences a hard shift condition.

In addition, inadequate lubrication in the transmission causes various problems like hard shifting.

Are there any transmission problems with the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

There are various transmission problems reported with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. These issues were reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How can a person detect bad transmission issues?

 The following symptoms detect bad transmission issues:

  • The burning smell of the system
  •  The noise produced during the neutral state
  •  Issues with the engine light
  •  Slipping gears and refusing the vehicle to switch the gears
  •  Dragging the clutch

Is it a cheap method to repair or replace the transmission in Jeep?

Transmission replacement is one of the most expensive options during transmission fixing. This thing can be referred to as re-manufactured.