Why Is My Gear Shift Light Not Working? (Troubleshooting & Solution)

Shifting is one of the most important parts of driving because you need to be able to use the proper gear during specific instances.

So, if you look at the shifter on your car, there will be indicator lights that will tell you which gear is which, and the lights are useful for you to easily tell each gear apart.

What if my gear shift light is not working? Why is it that the shifter indicator lights are not working the way they should?

The reason why your gear shift light isn’t working can be due to how the console shift indicator bulbs have become burnt out. As a result, the indicator lights won’t turn on even though the gear shifter is still working properly. This can be a problem when you are driving at night.

While gear shift indicator lights are not really necessary for you to be able to drive, they are still very useful because they allow you to properly see which gear you are shifting to during low-light situations.

As such, while this isn’t a problem at the start, this may end up causing issues in the future especially if you have trouble seeing in the dark.

How does a shift light work?

Everyone knows that the shifter is one of the most important parts of a car because this is what allows you to control your transmission so that you will be able to shift from one gear to another while you are driving.

Of course, each gear has a specific purpose, and such purposes are more than likely encountered by most drivers on a daily basis. 

In relation to the shifter, one of the components that allow you to properly use the shifter in a way that’s smooth and precise are the indicator lights that you can see on each of the gear labels.

Those gear labels have their own indicator lights so that you will be able to easily spot and tell which gear is which.

So, while the shift lights are not really that important in terms of how the shifter and the transmission work, they are still very much useful if you want to be able to properly shift gears without wasting any second.

Of course, during low-light situations such as when you are driving in the dark, every indicator light in your car’s cabin is useful because you want to make sure that you can see all of the different instruments and components that you need to use.

The indicator lights found on your car’s shifter are actually powered by a bulb or an electrical connector that powers all of the different lights on the shifter.

Without that bulb or an electrical connector, the labels on your shifter will never be illuminated and are just simple letters.

Why is my gear shift light not working?

Now that you know what the gear shift light is and how it works, let’s now look at why it isn’t working.

There may be some of you who have experienced gear shift lights that have stopped working. And this can be problematic if you ever find yourself struggling to tell which gear is which while you are driving in the dark.

So, what is the reason why the gear shift light isn’t working?

In most cases, the reason why the gear shift light is not working can be attributed to the bulb or the electrical connector. That means that the bulb has already seen the final stages of its lifespan or has suddenly stopped working just like how the usual light bulb in your home may end up burning out sooner or later.

Moreover, in addition to that, here are also some of the other signs that you have a gear shifter light that has stopped working:

  1. Check engine light turns on

There are plenty of reasons why the check engine light suddenly turns on even though the issue really isn’t related to the engine itself.

In some cases, something as simple as the shift light indicator going bad can already be enough to make the check engine light on your dash turn on.

So, if you see this light turning on, you may want to have your car checked or you may want to try changing the bulb.

There are some rare instances where the issue may actually be related to the shifter and not simply to the shifter lights.

  1. The wrong gear is read

So, when you put your vehicle in a different gear such as when you go into neutral, the indicator light should also be going to neutral.

However, if the shift indicator light is not reading right such as when it is going to another gear, then that means that your indicator light may have problems.

This can be problematic because of how your vehicle might end up acting in a different way because you think that you are in a certain gear but you are actually in another gear.

  1. The indicator lights do not move

When you move the gear shifter, the shift indicator lights should also move as well.

However, if it doesn’t move, then the logical conclusion is that there is a problem with the indicator. In some cases, this can be due to a simple misalignment, which is a bigger problem than merely the shift indicator light.

If this is the case, it is best to have your car checked by a mechanic so that the problem can be properly diagnosed.

How do you change a gearbox light?

If the problem with your gear shift light is simply the bulb found in the shifter indicator, then you no longer have to take your car to the mechanic because this is something that you will be able to fix yourself.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Purchase the proper bulb or electrical connector for your car. You may have to consult your manual for this. If you don’t know which bulb or electrical connector you need to buy, skip this process first.
  2. Remove the shifter surround by using a tool that will allow you to gently pry around the shifter. It is best to pry around the shifter surround first instead of pulling the entire cover in one location. Take note that some shifters may require you to use screwdrivers to remove the screws around the shifter surround.
  3. From there, you should now be able to see the shifter bulb or connector. In most cases, this should be located somewhere near the P on your shifter indicator. 
  4. If you haven’t purchased a gear shifter bulb or connector, unplug the one in your car and then take it to the store so that you can ask a salesperson to give you a new one of the same model.
  5. After that, all you need to do is to replace the bulb or electrical connector with a new one and then return the shifter surround. If you used the proper bulb, your shifter lights should now be back online.

Sources

Scionlife.com: Shift gears letters will not light up

Your Mechanic: Symptoms of a bad or failing shift indicator

2CarPros.com: Shifter light not working

Kevian: How to Fix Your Auto Transmission Shift Indicator