Why Does The Transmission Drop Into Neutral While Driving?

What will you do if suddenly the transmission drop into neutral while driving, in the middle of nowhere? Neutral gear is not made for driving, thereby driving in neutral gear can be dangerous too since you are not having total control of your wheels. Let’s understand what driving in neutral actually means.

What Is The Purpose Of Neutral Gear In A Car?

The purpose of neutral gear is to cut off power from the engine to the wheels but steering can control the directions, this makes it easier when you are trying to move the vehicle with external force. But unlike the drive and reverse gear, it is not made for driving, it’s not a state that is completely stationary.

This situation is used when you want your car to be towed, wheels are being checked at emission checkpoint. The neutral gear also helps the automatic transmission gears transition from being in the drive position to the opposite reverse position.

What Is Transmission Slipping?

Whenever you need to change your gear your transmission is known to be slipped, but if it is slipping without any cause then it is a serious risk factor. Slipping happens when Transmission tries to change the gear making it fall back into the gear or drop into a neutral zone, it may happen during automatic transmission or manual transmission.

Signs that tell you that your transmission is slipping.

1. Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmission happens when the gear change occurs automatically. There is no manual involvement. Whenever the Check Engine Light is on or Transmission tries to upshift, then falls back into a lower gear or Transmission falls into a lower gear, causing the engine to run at a high RPM and you hear Unusual noises when shifting or you experience Hard/rough gear changes. Then there is a possibility that automatic transmission is slipping

2. Manual Transmission

Manual transmission is those which occurs when you change the gear by yourself, Whenever Transmission won’t go into gear or transmission inexplicably falls out of gear and you hear some strange noises (like grinding) while changing the gear, it may be the manual transmission slipping.

Why Does Your Transmission Drop Into Neutral While Driving?

When the transmission drop into neutral while driving at a slower speed or the vehicle comes to stop. And suddenly your car’s transmission drops out of gear causing the engine to race up and then sliding back into the gear.  Or press on the gas pedal and the engine starts to accelerate but the vehicle doesn’t move as if it’s Neutral. This situation can be very annoying as well as dangerous.

Transmission Dropping to neutral while driving can be due to the following reasons:

1. Your Fluid Oil Is Low

The low fluid oil in an automatic transmission system can cause a lot of problems since the automatic transmission relies on the hydraulic pressure of the fluid and if there is a low level of the fluid present then there won’t is enough pressure to engage the next gear. Low fluid level can be caused due to some leakage present because of a bad transmission pan gasket, but it can also be faulty seals, ruptured fluid lines, a leak in the pan, or a crack in the torque converter.

2. Overused Fluid

The fluid that has not been replaced for a long time can become burnt and therefore will be ineffective in getting rid of heat. The burnt-out oil will become thin and contains a lot of contaminants which can rupture the machinery. Due to these, the transmission will behave abnormally.

3. Transmission Bands Are Worn Out

Gears are locked together with the bands, and if some of them get damaged then it would lead to difficulties in changing the gears.

4. Gears Are Damaged

Worn-out gears are normal when the fluid is not effective due to harsh usage and low fluid level the gears become damaged by the friction and that causes the gears to work improperly, they lose the power to switch into the next gear smoothly.

5. Torque converter

Torque converters perform a similar function in manual transmission as the clutch performs in automatic transmission. They transfer engine power to the transmission system through hydraulic pressure. If the torque converter is damaged then it won’t provide enough pressure to change gears.

What You Can Do To Fix The Issue?

  1. Whenever you see that your fluid is burnt out you can check by running your hand through the oil and feel whether the grit is coming in your hands, or you can smell that the fluid is burnt out or not. You can even check for the texture of your fuel. If you feel that the oil is not good enough to use then you must change the oil for smooth use.
  2. Replace the damaged parts by taking your car to a garage. Take automotive expert’s advice for how you can prevent any damage after replacing.
  3. Take your vehicle for a regular checkup time by time to ensure that you prevent damage even before it happens. Many transmission problems are easily preventable by following routine checks. Burnt out fluid is usually the root cause of a slipping transmission, so have your fluid and filter changed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. In addition, check the fluid quality and level often to make sure it will keep things cool and perform gear changes effectively.


Driving in neutral is unsafe since the neutral gear is not made for driving at all it is only used whenever you have to drive the vehicle with the use of external forces such as towing the car. Whenever your transmission slips into neutral gear without any signs, it can cause a lot of damage to your car. Also, faults in your system’s Transmission can lead to a lot more damage than you see now, so follow the routine checks regularly and fluid must be changed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles for preventing damages. Gift yourself a safe and smooth ride by ensuring a healthy transmission system.

Now you know why does your transmission drop into neutral while driving. We tried to cover almost every reason on this blog for any further query related to this topic, comment down in this comment box below.

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