6 Ways to Fix Chevy Silverado Gear Shifter Not Working

Nothing can be more nauseating than a car that won’t shift into drive after starting the engine. It’s even worse if you’re late to an investment summit. Although it enjoys trusted reputation for its incredible features and performance, Chevy Silverado can put you off sometimes.

The moment its gear shifter fails, you may experience tough times fixing it. I understand that many auto owners are wary of a DIY procedure. But there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve got a magic wand for you in this article on how to fix a Chevy Silverado gear shifter that won’t work. You’ll also learn reasons your Chevy gear shifter can fail. 

Why Will a Chevy Gear Shifter Not Work?

That’s a brilliant question, to start with. There are various reasons your Chevy Silverado’s gear shifter won’t swing from park to drive once the engine starts running. They include:

  • A locked shifter
  • An activated limp mode
  • A broken transmission shift cable
  • Oil leak or Low gear oil
  • A defective brake light switch
  • Failing shift interlock wiring or solenoid

A transmission parking pawl or freezing weather can also be culprits. Whatever it is, there’s a fix to get the shifter back to work again. Now, let me explain how each of these issues triggers the failure of the Chevy gear shifter and what fixes to apply.

A Locked Shifter

The first thing that readily comes to mind each time a gear shifter won’t work is a locked shifter. Fixing a locked shifter is pretty simple and quick. With the built-in release system, you can manually unlock the locked shifter in a jiffy. You can drive to a mechanic workshop for any underlying issue

What to Do

  • Engage the hand (emergency) brake
  • Remove the plastic cap that holds the shifter lock override. A Chevy Silverado override slot is located on the shifter lever-bound shifter console.
  • Using a pointed object (maybe a nail file), press down on the button. Make sure your foot is on the brake pedal while pushing down the button
  • Shift the shifter back to neutral and this time the shifter will move
  • Start the car

Activated Limp Mode

When an issue occurs in your Chevy Silverado, the “Limp Mode” kicks and alerts you about it. A sensor in your Chevy vehicle could read an issue and so send signals to the ‘Limp Mode.’ Your Silverado will be stuck at limp mode as long as the problem remains.

What to Do

The option before you is to drive to a mechanic and get the problem accurately diagnosed. This way, your technician can fix the problem. There is a likelihood the sensor is malfunctioning itself or it senses an actual problem. Whatever it is, you may need to replace the sensor or any damaged component.

A Broken Transmission Shift Mechanism

Another reason your Chevy Silverado gear shifter will fail to work is if there’s a problem with the shifter itself. A broken shifter mechanism occurs if the shifter is loose and unguarded by the sides. It’s also possible that there’s a boot inside the shifter that prevents it from moving.

What to Do

This is not an issue a DIY process can solve. Quickly drive to a mechanic and let them remove the play. This way, they can examine the mode of operation of the shifter. The immediate thing to do is to replace the broken parts of the shifter. However, replacing the shifter itself might be the best bet.

Defective Brake Light Switch

You already know that the gear shifter won’t move if you don’t step on the brake pedal. In the same way, the brake pedal won’t work if there’s a problem with the brake light switch. Once you notice there is a chance that the fuse regulating the brake light switch has tripped off. This can cause the shift lock to blow.

What to Do

To solve a blown shift lock, you should first diagnose the problem. To do this, step on the brake pedal while you ask someone to stand behind the car. If the brake lights fail to come on, it’s possible you have a bad switch. You need to drive to a technician to know quickly work on this electrical problem.

Faulty Shift Interlock Solenoid

Most automatic transmission Chevy Silverado models are built with the shift interlock solenoid. This wiring system is a safety measure that ensures that you press down on the brake pedal before engaging the gear shifter. Once the solenoid gets bad, you won’t be able to move the gear shifter. The Chevy interlock solenoid is built into the ignition system. If the ignition key tumbler wears out, it’ll not be able to start the car, move the shifter, or lock the steering wheel.

What to Do

This is not what you can do yourself. You need a drive to a technician’s workshop to get the problem diagnosed. Damaged wiring or solenoid may need replacement or some expertise to get it fixed.

Low Gear Oil Level

Chevy Silverado doesn’t tolerate a low oil level. Everything, including the gear shifter, in this pickup, works awfully if the oil level drops below a threshold.  The depleted gear oil reservoir will cause the gear to grind as its components won’t mesh or turn smoothly.  The gear shifter will move harshly, making hard moves and audible noises.

What to Do

A simple check on the gear oil reservoir will reveal if there’s a leak that leads to a drop in the oil level. A leak will require a technician to plug it. A drop in the oil level will need you to top the oil to the maximum level. Make sure you confirm that there’s no leak before adding more oil into the reservoir.

Final Thoughts

Despite this detailed guide, I won’t discourage you from visiting a certified auto gear technician for an accurate diagnosis and solution. After all, not all faults will work with a DIY solution. I hope you can also save some bucks if you follow this guide. Make sure you have a little know-how plus technical experience and skills in handling a car gear system. Check all the needed tools before uncoupling the components. Remember to take safety seriously. Good luck!

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