What Causes Delays When Putting My Car Into Reverse?

Sun Devil Auto Expert, published on 03/09/2016

Whether you drive an automatic or manual transmission, your vehicle needs to shift gears constantly as you travel. If you have noticed a regular delay of several seconds when placing your car or truck into reverse, there’s a chance that transmission work could be necessary. This is not an entirely uncommon problem, particularly with automatics, but it’s one that should not be ignored when it occurs on a frequent basis. Find out what to do if you suspect that your transmission is having trouble.

Identifying the Problem

The first step in understanding any automotive issue is compiling as much information as possible. Try to get a feel for how often you’re experiencing this type of lag when placing your car into reverse, and take note of the conditions at the time as well. Some drivers experience more difficulty in certain temperatures (such as early in the morning when it’s colder), which can provide some insight as to what’s causing the problem.

In many cases, delayed shifting of any kind is caused by issues with the transmission’s valve body. Shift solenoid or computer malfunctions can also result in these types of hitches and may require transmission service for correction.  The root cause of the issue could either be computer/electronic-oriented or strictly mechanical, and it’s often best to let the professionals make the determination.

A Few Basic Tips

Knowing that the repair shop can’t always be your first stop, it’s always a good idea to keep these recommendations in mind for managing the problem until you can get more info:

  • Don’t try to resolve a lagging transmission by revving your engine: if gear engagement is a problem, this can actually make things worse.
  • If possible, check to ensure that your transmission fluid levels are adequate. Whenever replacing fluid yourself, always make sure to use the correct type for your vehicle.
  • Review your service records and determine the last time you had a transmission flush performed. Compare that with the recommended interval as listed in your car or truck owner’s manual.

Trust the Pros

If it is determined that repairs will ultimately be necessary, do yourself a favor and entrust your vehicle to those who know best. Finding a reputable auto shop is always recommended, ideally one that specializes in transmission service and repair. Once your problems have been resolved, remember to keep up on your service intervals in order to maintain peak performance for miles to come.