Ford Mustang Will Not Go Into Gear (12 Problems Explained!)

The Ford Mustang has been a mainstay of the eclectic Ford lineup since 1964.

Long seen as one of America’s most iconic muscle cars and pony cars, the Mustang is known for high horsepower and stellar on-road performance.

This article explains the 12 problems of why “Ford Mustang Will Not Go Into Gear”.

Blown Fuse Or Switch

One thing that can happen is that the fuse for the transmission solenoid connected to the torque converter and/or pressure controller can blow out.

A tricky aspect of fixing this problem is that there is no dedicated fuse or switch for these components. It is among other switches that are interconnected with the powertrain.

This being the case, the fuse might not actually be blown when you think it is.

Before you go looking at the fuses, you should first check to make sure that the solenoids are in good shape.

If any appear damaged, then replacing them would be the easier and more logical step to take.

In the case of your torque converter, it should be the TCC solenoid that you’re looking to replace, but you may have to just replace the entire pack.

Replacing the solenoid pack can cost between $250 and $600 when you factor in both parts and labor.

Broken Shift Cable

There are two common ways in which your shift cable can become damaged.

The first is by stretching, which if it has happened will mean you may notice the transmissions slipping into drive range only a little after you’ve moved the gear shifter to “Drive.”

The other common form of damage is corrosion. If it is corroded, you may find that moving the shifter becomes extremely difficult.

If the problem with your Mustang is related to the shift cable, then you will need to replace it. On average, a new transmission shift cable costs about $175 with parts and labor.

Clutch Master Cylinder

The clutch master cylinder on your Ford Mustang pushes fluid through to the slave cylinder, which then pressures the clutch fork and disengages the clutch.

You’ll find that your Mustang will have a hard time going into gear if the clutch master cylinder has this problem because you won’t be able to properly disengage the clutch and change gears.

You can notice this happening by feeling how the clutch pedal feels when you press on it. If you feel like it is “floating” to the floor, then it could be the master cylinder problem after all.

In short, it will feel like you’re pressing a pedal that’s not connected to anything at all. It really makes your Mustang impossible to drive.

Repairing the master cylinder will cost, on average, $200 with parts and labor but it could raise you somewhat over that estimate depending on the model year and extent of the damage.

First Gear Synchro Unresponsive

When you get into your Mustang and are getting ready to set off, do you hear a rather unpleasant grinding noise as you attempt to move the shifter into first gear?

If so, then you are likely suffering from an unresponsive first gear synchro.

The synchro’s job is to match the input speed of the transmission to the drive gear’s speed. This going wrong is more common on older Mustangs.

If it’s having this trouble, then the only solution would be to replace the synchro.

The bad news about that is that replacing the synchro is essentially like replacing the transmission with all the other work that has to happen, too.

You should expect to pay something similar to what a replacement transmission would cost, so possibly $1,000 at the low end and $2,000 at the high end, factoring in both parts and labor.

Broken Shift Solenoid

Your shift solenoids operate from the depths of your transmission fluid and the main reason for them failing is through cycling hot and cold over and over.

Sitting and working in transmission fluid is a very harsh environment to work within.

Other issues could be a mechanical failure or regular wear and tear, depending on how old your Mustang is and how you’ve been driving it.

A broken shift solenoid will typically throw up a “Check Engine” light.

On the transmission front, you’ll notice a lot of slippage in the shift and a real loss in the overall smoothness of the transmission.

The only real cure for a bad shift solenoid is to replace it. A single damaged or broken solenoid will cost up to $100 for the part plus around $120 for labor bringing it to $220.

If you have to replace a pack, then the cost for all the parts and labor will go up to $600 or so. It’s a tricky task and can take time to finish.

Ignition Key Failure

If your ignition key/switch is locked in the lock/off position, then the transmission gear selector will also be locked in place and you won’t be able to shift your Mustang into gear.

If this happens, you’ll simply need to replace that faulty ignition switch and get that component working again.

A new ignition switch will cost up to $205 when you factor in both parts and labor, making it a fairly expensive minor repair.

The intricacy of the job is partly what causes it to become so expensive.

Broken Shifter

Over time, your shifter can become worn and less precise. It can be the result of natural wear and tear, but can also be exacerbated by some bad driving habits.

For example, drivers who have the habit of resting their hand on top of a manual gear shifter will add to the strain that gets put on the whole transmission, but especially the shifter itself.

The shifter may also appear broken because of faulty bushings or shift cables, so these might need replacing.

The cost of fixing these shifter-related problems can come to as much as $450 with parts and labor.

Low Transmission Fluid

In order for the entire system to work in your Ford Mustang or any other vehicle, you need to have the correct level of transmission fluid.

You can check transmission fluid by popping the hood and checking the levels on the dipstick there.

If you notice that the dipstick indicates a low level of fluid, then it needs flushing and topping up. A lack of transmission fluid means the components are not properly lubricated.

Imagine all those moving parts just grinding over each other, it’s not pretty.

If you have any mechanical expertise or experience, you might be able to try this one yourself.

As you check the transmission fluid levels, don’t forget to also check the state of the fluid. It should be a nice healthy dark red in color.

If it is veering towards black/brown then it is definitely ready for change.

Failing Solenoids

Above we mentioned the shift solenoids, but there are other solenoids to worry about, too.

There are typically 10 solenoids in the transmission, and if you need to replace the entire pack it could cost $600 with parts and labor.

The solenoids are one of the most important parts of a transmission. They control the flow of transmission fluid, thus enabling the smoothest-possible gear shifting while also helping to minimize wear and tear.

If you have to replace all of the solenoids in your Ford Mustang, then prepare for the job to become expensive.

Clutch Disc

The clutch disc is the component that presses against the flywheel and moves engine power to the input shaft.

In other words, it’s an indispensable part of your Ford Mustang transmission.

If you are noticing noises from the clutch when you depress the pedal, or vibrations/pulses from the clutch as you press down, or that the clutch pedal, in general, is being hard to engage, all of this could point to a bad clutch disc.

Unfortunately, unlike your transmission fluid, you can’t just quickly glance at the disc to see what’s wrong. You’ll need to get professional help with this one.

To replace the clutch disc will cost between $1,000 and $1,300 with parts and labor.

It’s not cheap, but the blessing is that the clutch disc rarely brakes and so it is not a common defect that you’re likely to have to deal with.

Misaligned Gears

If there is any misalignment between the transmission and its case or clutch housing, then this can cause the gears to unexpectedly jump or slip out of gear.

This problem can be quite disconcerting for many drivers.

This can be caused by a worn pilot bearing near the crankshaft. Alternatively, the transmission shaft itself might be bent.

Fortunately, these are not the most serious issues to fix, but can still cost a lot on a Ford Mustang.

You should expect to pay about $900 to fix a bent transmission shaft if that’s the problem. The pilot bearing replacement could run to $650 to fix.

These aren’t cheap, but they are necessary if there is the kind of misalignment we described above.

Broken Gearbox

In 2020, Ford faced class-action lawsuits from drivers because of problems with broken gearboxes.

Even worse, the suits point out that the repairs done to the gearboxes were ineffective in solving the problem.

The most problematic gearbox is the MT82 on the Ford Mustang GT.

If you experience issues with the broken gearbox, in which essentially no parts are working as they should, but especially the shift forks, then it should be covered by the warranty.

If, on the other hand, the gearbox has broken through your own action, you could be looking at a whole new transmission being needed, and that could cost more than $3,500 depending on your model and year.