'92 Camry suddenly won't go in reverse

Tiny
LANGE17
  • MEMBER
  • 1992 TOYOTA CAMRY
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 210,000 MILES
I drive a '92 Camry, automatic, with 210,000 miles. I backed out of the driveway normally today. When I got to my destination, I put the car in reverse to back into a parking spot, but the engine revved and the car drifted as though it were in neutral. I tried turning the car off and back on, and tried shifting into different gears, with no success.

Other factors:
- Last week I had a brake fluid leak that I got fixed. I don't see what that would affect, but I'm mentioning it just in case.

- Last year I had an odd problem where the car intermittently wouldn't start. After several trips and payments to a mechanic, I ended up with a replaced starter, a replaced steering column and new ignition switch, and then a second replaced starter. Then I came to your website, and you told me about a couple possibilities involving a switch or sensor or something that was telling the car it was not in park (so it wouldn't start). I worked around the problem by moving the gear shift between neutral and park while turning the key until it would start. After a few months of using this approach on occasions when the car wouldn't start, the problem stopped occurring, and hasn't occurred since. I wonder if it could have something to do with the current situation- i.E, maybe the car "doesn't know" its in reverse? Or maybe that's wishful thinking, and I really have a bad transmission or something.

Anyway, I just wanted to get a heads up before signing my life away at the mechanic. Thanks!
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 5:47 AM

7 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
If you only lost reverse, and it happened all at once, chances are you have a broken reverse band in the transmission. Do all the drive gears work?
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 5:51 AM
Tiny
LANGE17
  • MEMBER
It did happen all at once (somewhere between backing out of my driveway normally and arriving at my friend's house 15 minutes away). I just went for a drive around the block, and all gears except for reverse work normally and feel normal. So- does that mean a broken reverse band in the transmission? If so, how hard is that to fix?
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 6:04 AM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Most likely you need to rebuild the transmission.
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 7:20 AM
Tiny
LANGE17
  • MEMBER
I feared as much. Can I at least drive it for a few weeks while I look for a new car? (There's no way its worth paying for a new transmission considering the physical condition of the car.)
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 7:51 AM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
Vehicle can still be driven but there is a possibility the trans can fail anytime so it is best not to travel too far and without any reverse, how you park your vehicle determines if you can get home.

Btw did you try moving the lever a little forward to P and rearwards to N to test if reverse catches?
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 6:34 PM
Tiny
LANGE17
  • MEMBER
I did try moving the lever around a bit- it didn't catch.
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Sunday, November 14th, 2010 AT 6:37 PM
Tiny
KHLOW2008
  • EXPERT
That would rule out a linkage fault and only thing left is a bad transmisison.
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Monday, November 15th, 2010 AT 6:07 PM

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