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Toyota Corolla Gear Shift Problems : Reason, Causes & Solution

Toyota Corolla Gear Shift Problems : Reason, Causes & Solution

Toyota Corolla owners often complain of gear shift issues in these cars. Although the branded car continues to allure automobile enthusiasts, you might encounter certain issues when it comes to gear shifts.

However, it appears that this problem doesn’t stem from a manufacturing glitch. In most cases, gear shift issues affect Toyota Corolla due to the owner’s poor maintenance.

The lack of transmission fluid in your Toyota Corolla may be a prime reason preventing the gear from shifting. However, you might also have other issues in the car such as faulty sensors, ECM, solenoids, or a disrupted connection.

Mostly, you would encounter these issues with automatic transmission cars. So, let’s take a look at the common gear shift issues you might encounter with your car.

What causes Toyota Corolla gear shift problems?

You might encounter different types of problems when it comes to shifting gears in your Toyota Corolla.

Unable to move the car out of park

In most of the Toyota cars, you have advanced safety features that refrain the drivers from shifting the car out of a parked position unless they apply the brakes.

So, if the gear shift continues to be stuck in a particular place when you apply the brakes, it points to a problem. The car might not be shifting out of the park position for two reasons.

Parking your car on an incline

You would encounter this issue when you park your Toyota Corolla on an incline or hill. You might encounter this trouble when you fail to park the car properly.

The reason is, the car might start rolling when you release the brakes after switching to park mode. Often, this causes the car’s entire weight to go on the parking gear. In these cases, the pawl is likely to stop gear retraction.


To ensure that this situation doesn’t arise when you park your Toyota Corolla on inclined lots, take care not to remove your foot from the brake before applying the parking brake.

You can remove your foot and take the shift to park when you press the parking brake. This would stop the car from rolling, as the parking brake would manage the car’s weight.

To get this issue sorted, push the Corolla for a few inches in the direction of the incline. This would remove the weight of the car from the transmission. As a result, this would relieve the pressure.

Issues with the brake lights

The gear of your Toyota Corolla might be stuck in the parking position if you have any issue with the car’s brake light switch. In case this switch is malfunctioning, the vehicle would not release the shift.

This is because the car would not know that the brake pedal has your foot on it. Mostly, the problem lies in the brake light fuse or the overall brake light switch.


Firstly, you need to find out whether you have the switch plugged in, and whether it is properly functioning. Next, you need to get the fuse replaced. In some cases, you need to get a new switch system to shift your Toyota Corolla out of park. The problem will subside once you replace these components.

The car’s shift not working at all

A number of factors might cause the shift in your Toyota Corolla not to work. In case the fuse and brake switch lights fail to deliver normal performance, you might have a failure in the shift interlock.

The manufacturers design the brake-shift interlock in such a way that the car doesn’t shift into drive or go reverse. So, you need to press the brakes, so that the shifter interlock signals that you want the car to move away from the park position.


If there is a failure in the shift interlock system, the gear shift would be stuck in the parking position. It won’t shift even if you press the brake pedal hard.

However, under emergent situations, you can release the shifter which would override the system. You simply need to check the car’s instruction manual for the right directions.

Loose gear shift

Over time, the shifter bushings tend to wear off. The reason is, these bushings come with plastic and bushings and grommets, that gives a smooth feeling.

This retains the shifter in place firmly. While most of these components weaken over time, the tear process pacifies in case you change gears aggressively.


In case you detect this issue in your Toyota Corolla, you can visit the local garage with your car. The expert would check the vehicle and get the bushings replaced. In case you decide to replace them yourself, you would need a screwdriver, 0.25-inch drive ratchet, and a metric socket.

This would help you do away with the nuts and bolts, providing you access to the center console. You need to inspect the bushings and get the new ones installed. Now simply lock the nuts and bolts tightly to fix the issue.

The car refuses to go into gear

You might notice that your car doesn’t want to go into gear. This can happen to your Toyota Corolla for a few reasons.

Low transmission fluid

The car might face gear transmission issues if it has leaking transmission fluid. Besides, the transmission fluid may be low, leading to this issue. The transmission fluid goes a long way in cooling the moving parts. Also, the fluid lubricates these parts in your car.


You can observe the fluid’s smell, levels, and color using the transmission dipstick. In case you get a burnt smell, along with a black or dark brown color, reach out to a transmission specialist to bail your car out.

Failure of the electric sensor

Like most modern cars, the Toyota Corolla has advanced computer systems controlling the operations. Even when you put your foot on the gas pedal, the car might fail to go into gear. It indicates that you have a faulty electronic sensor.


If the electronic sensor is defective, you need to contact the transmission experts. They can help you by working on the computerized diagnostic equipment.

Not changing gears

In most of the cars, you have an ECM (Electric Control Module). Behind the automatic gear shifting, this component works like the brain. The car might not change gears due to two reasons.

Transmission fluid

In case you have used the wrong type of transmission fluid, it would affect your gears. Also, the issue happens if the fluid is at the wrong level.


You need to check the right level of the transmission fluid. Otherwise, you might encounter difficulties in shifting gears. The transmission fluid goes a long way in controlling the functional mechanism of an automatic car.

If you use the wrong type of fluid or deploy fluids at the wrong level, the gears would sustain damage. So, it makes sense to check the transmission fluid and ensure that it is at the right level. This way, you can keep gear shifting issues at bay.

ECM problems

Issues with shifting your gears might also arise when you have problems with the ECM. The ECM wouldn’t be functioning in the right way in case there is a problem with the sensors or the solenoids. If you detect any issue with the ECM, get the components replaced soon.

How to fix What causes gear shifting problems?

Gear shifting issues might arise in your Toyota Corolla for several reasons. Based on the problem, you need to work on the respective solution. So, you simply need to go for the right solution once you know the issues.


Well, you might be wondering about the cost of fixing gear shifting issues. In case of a fluid leak, you need to shell out $150 to $200. If you need to replace the transmission solenoid, it would cost you $15 to $100.

Considering the high labor charges, the entire job would cost around $600. Also, when you need to replace the throttle sensor, you need to pay anything between $155 and $199.

With professional attention, you can address all these issues in your car. Make sure to get branded parts when you replace the existing ones.