My car just died. It was parked and when I went to start it nothing happened. No clicking sound, no nothing. The electric wndows still worked. I did not check lights. Had to have it towed to repair shop.

This happened to me before and the car could not be jumped off. A repair man told me I needed a new transmission? The car is a 1993 Mazda MX3. I did notice the check engine light was on. Also, the car seemed to jerk/lunge when in L gear, but not in Drive. Have not been going over 35-40MPH when in Drive. I can also hear what sounds like a loose or grinding belt under hood. There is Transmission fluid and oil in car. Am worried sick as I cannot afford a newer car.

Can someone give me some ideas as to what the problems might be?

  • 2
    I doubt this problem requires a new Automatic Transmission, but we will need more information for a proper diagnosis. If the check engine light is on, there are specific codes behind that which will help the experts here help you towards a solution. We need more information.
    – SteveRacer
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 5:07
  • 2
    It could be as simple as the switch that detects that the car is in 'park' or 'neutral' before it is allowed to start being faulty causing it not to start.
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 7:10
  • When you say there is oil in the car, do you mean in the engine and gearbox?
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 7:11
  • Have you tried starting the vehicle in Neutral as well?
    – Andrew L
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 12:42
  • Tcm connection/ tcm itself. Having this problem on my fiesta. Sounds identical. Commented May 24, 2020 at 19:45

3 Answers 3


Sounds like there's a few things going on, and the comments are all over the place. They're all good though! :) Here's what you need to do.

1 - Check engine light is on: The computer is trying to tell you what's wrong. Get the code read by the shop and post back here.

2 - Car quietly not starting: As has been suggested by others, this is most likely the "neutral-start inhibitor," a tiny little switch that will prevent your car from starting in other positions than "Park" or "Neutral." Your car may very well be in "Park," but if the switch can't see that, it wll not let your starter do it's thing. Three things you can do to diagnose this and work around it. If any of the following 3 techniques get the car to start, the issue is the switch:

  • apply the hand-brake, turn your key to "on" without starting, press the brake pedal and shift to "neutral," now try to start the car
  • if that didn't work, try hand-brake, key to "on" without starting, press the brake pedal and now shift all the way down to "L" then back to "Park", at least twice. When you're back in "Park" for the second or third time, try to start the car
  • if that didn't work, your last try is to find the "sweetspot" in "Park." My '94 Nissan had this issue (still does), where the shifter would be in "Park", but it could move around a little bit while still staying in "Park." When in "Park," gently push the shifter as far forward (towards your heater controls) as you can and hold it there while trying to start. If that doesn't work, try gently pulling it as far back (towards "reverse") and hold it there while trying to start.

3 - Car lurching and lunging in low gear: if this is new, you may have a transmission problem (your torque converter may be locking-up when it shouldn't). If you've just used low-gear for the first time and noticed this, it may be normal as some cars are really jerky in low-gear.

4 - Grinding belt noise: you may have a pulley that seized, preventing the belt from circulating properly. If that's the case, most starters are not powerful enough to turn your engine over (that noise that it's supposed to make when trying to start) if a belt is seized. Have your belts removed to see if the car can start easily now.


I sounds like the switch on the automatic transmission has failed. This tells the car what gear mode is selected and the car will only start if it's receiving the signal it's expecting. I would be surprised if the whole transmission has failed, it definitely sounds like an electrical / electronic fault.

If your mechanic insists the whole transmission has failed, I would strongly suggest you have an auto-electrician look at the vehicle and give you a second opinion.


Hi everyone here give you very good advice If your car drive and park then no cranking . First try to start in Neutral If it starts Then you have a bad Neutral Start Switch .

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