Home » My Mercedes Won’t Shift Into Gear (10 Causes and FIXES!)

My Mercedes Won’t Shift Into Gear (10 Causes and FIXES!)

Are you experiencing trouble with your Mercedes manual or automatic gearbox not changing gear? You’re not alone.

Many Mercedes owners have reported similar issues, and it can be frustrating to deal with a car that won’t shift properly and may even be stuck in parl. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, a problem with shifting can be a sign of a more serious issue that needs to be addressed.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the common causes of Mercedes not shifting into gear and provide some tips on how to diagnose and fix the problem.

So, if you’re tired of struggling to get your Mercedes moving, keep reading!

Mercedes Shift Gear Not Working: Causes

One of the common problems you might face with your Mercedes is the automatic gearbox not changing gears properly.

Another issue (to be looked at next) is when the shifter is stuck in park and you are unable to change it to drive or any other mode.

Reasons for Mercedes Automatic Gearbox Not Changing Gear

If you have a Mercedes automatic gearbox that is not changing gear, you need to first understand how this system works. This will give you a better understanding of the issue.

An automatic gearbox, also known as an automatic transmission, is a car component that shifts gears for you, making your driving experience smoother and more effortless.

First, let’s understand the key components involved in an automatic transmission system.

The crucial parts include the torque converter, planetary gear sets, and valve body.

The torque converter is a fluid coupling device that transfers engine power to the transmission. It allows the engine to keep running smoothly and efficiently while the car is stopped or changing gears.

As you drive your Mercedes, the transmission fluid within the torque converter transfers the engine’s rotational energy to the planetary gear sets. These gear sets are what enable your car to shift automatically between different gear ratios.

The planetary gear sets consist of a central sun gear, surrounded by planet gears, which in turn are encircled by a ring gear. The wearable combination of these gears helps the transmission achieve the optimal ratio for different driving conditions.

Lastly, the valve body is responsible for managing the transmission’s fluid flow and controlling gear shifts.

This process occurs through a series of valves and solenoids that open and close to precisely regulate fluid pressure.

The transmission’s control module, or computer, gathers information from various sensors including engine speed, throttle position, and vehicle speed.

Based on this data, it makes decisions and sends signals to the valve body, ensuring the correct gear is engaged for smooth and efficient driving.

Now, there are several reasons why your Mercedes might not shift into gear, and understanding these causes can help you address the issue efficiently.

1. Bad Brake Switch

One common cause of Mercedes automatic gearbox not changing gear is a bad brake switch.

The brake switch is located with your brake pedal and, when faulty, causes a malfunction between the gear signal and the brake pedal, preventing you from shifting gears when stuck in park mode.

2. Failing Valve Body

Another possible reason is that the valve body is failing. The valve body in a transmission keeps hydraulic fluid flowing through the transmission, ensuring smooth and seamless gear shifting.

If it fails, your gear selector cannot perform its job correctly, resulting in gear shifting issues.

3. Dirty or low automatic transmission fluid (ATF)

The transmission relies on hydraulic fluid to transfer power and allow smooth gear changes. When the fluid level is low, it may lead to difficulties in shifting and potentially cause more damage.

Dirty automatic transmission fluid (ATF) can also contribute to your Mercedes not shifting gears. ATF should be a light red/pinkish color.

Dirty ATF (deep red to dark brown) loses its ability to lubricate and cool internal parts properly, causing excess wear and premature part failure.

4. Electrical Issues

Sometimes, electrical issues can also contribute to gear shifting problems in your Mercedes.

For example, a broken or damaged electrical connector can cause issues with shifting gears and may require repair or replacement.

Other causes include a leak in the wire, a bad conductor plate, a malfunctioning solenoid, or even a faulty battery.

5. Malfunctioning gear selector

A malfunctioning gear selector could also be responsible for your Mercedes not changing gears.

6. Leaking conductor plate

If the conductor plate on your Mercedes is leaking, it can also prevent the shift from working.

WIth these in mind, let’s look at some common ways to fix the issue.

Reasons for Mercedes Shifter Stuck in Park

Similarly, if your Mercedes shifter is stuck in park, it could be due to several reasons.

Some of the common causes are a defective brake light switch, low voltage or dead battery, or spilled liquid on the shifter assembly.

Other issues might include a faulty shift interlock solenoid, engine control unit (ECU), or transmission control unit (TCU).

The transmission shift cable might be broken or the shift rod bent or loose.

Additionally, problems with the shifter linkage actuator can cause your Mercedes to have difficulty shifting gears. This component connects the gear shift to the transmission and, when damaged, can prevent your car from properly shifting.

Now, let’s look at how to fix these issues.

Mercedes Gear Shift Not Working: Troubleshooting Guide

Follow the step-by-step troubleshooting guide below to fix the issue.

1. Reset Out of Limp Mode

One of the causes of the gear not shifting is when the transmission has been automatically switched to limp mode.

Limp mode is a protective mechanism designed to prevent further damage to your vehicle’s transmission, where the car is stuck in second gear and doesn’t shift, limiting speeds to about 30 mph.

It occurs when sensor values from various transmission components are outside their normal operating range.

To attempt resetting this mode, try the following steps:

  • Turn off your Mercedes and remove the key from the ignition.
  • Wait 20-30 seconds without pressing any buttons or the gas pedal.
  • Restart your car, put it in drive, and check if it’s out of limp mode.
NOTE: Keep in mind that these steps may temporarily resolve your gear shifting problem, but underlying issues should still be addressed by a professional technician.

2. Manually Release Shifter Stuck in Park

If you are in a situation where you don’t have any tool (far from home) or you are in an emergency situation, you can manually release the shifter if it is stuck in park.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Press the emergency brakes: Begin by engaging the emergency brakes on your car to ensure it stays stationary during the process.
  • Turn on the ignition: Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to Position, I, II, or start the car (starting the car is optional but can be helpful).
  • Press the brake pedal: Keep the brake pedal pressed throughout these steps to prevent the car from rolling away while you attempt to release the shifter.
  • Locate the shifter lock/override: Find the gear shifter lock or override on the center console. It is typically near the shifter lever and is often covered with a small plastic cap.
  • Remove the plastic cover: Carefully lift the plastic cover using a flat screwdriver to reveal the override switch.
  • Press the manual release switch: Utilize a screwdriver, pen, or similar object to push and hold the manual release switch located beneath the plastic cover.
  • Release the shifter: While maintaining pressure on the override switch, use the screwdriver to push the unlock tab and manually release the shifter.

Keep in mind that this method serves as a temporary fix and does not permanently resolve the issue.

To address the root cause of the shifter problem, it’s essential to identify and fix the precise issue preventing the transmission shifter from moving freely.

Note that until the problem is fixed, the transmission may operate in 2nd gear (Limp Mode).

3. Check the Battery

A low battery voltage or dead battery can prevent the shifter from moving out of park.

If the battery is the source of the problem, replace it before addressing other concerns.

Replacing a car battery is generally a straightforward process and can be done without the help of a mechanic.

4. Replace the Brake Switch

A faulty brake light switch is a frequent culprit for a stuck shifter. If the switch is not functioning properly, the shifter may not know if the brake pedal is being pressed.

The brake switch is located with your brake pedal and may cause a malfunction between your gear signal and the brake pedal, preventing gear shifting.

To resolve the issue, replace the defective brake light switch.

5. Replace the Gear Selector

In some cases, the issue could stem from a gear selector failure.

To address this, inspect the gear selector and replace it if necessary.

This can be a complex task, so seeking the help of a professional mechanic is advised.

6. Examine the Gear Shifter Assembly

The gear shifter assembly or shifter module may have sustained damage over time, ultimately leading to a stuck shifter.

Common issues include broken plastic parts inside the shifter or spilled liquids on your center console.

If the shift interlock solenoid located inside the assembly fails or plastic parts break, you may need to manually override the shifter temporarily until a replacement is secured.

If the gear indicator on the instrument cluster does not display positions like P, R, N, or D, this could indicate a faulty shifter module.

7. Evaluate the Ignition Switch

A dysfunctional ignition switch or cable can cause the shifter to be stuck in park.

Ensure the ignition switch is in position I, II, or running, as this will unlock the shifter.

If the cable or ignition switch is damaged, you will need to repair or replace the necessary components.

Bottom Line

By carefully examining these possible causes and solutions, you can address the issue of a stuck shifter and have your Mercedes-Benz running smoothly again.

Also, it is essential to maintain your Mercedes with regular preventative care.

This includes checking the transmission fluid, monitoring for any dashboard warning lights, and following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

By staying diligent with your vehicle’s upkeep, you can avoid or minimize gear shifting problems in the future.