I have a 2000 Honda Passport with an automatic transmission, it doesn't catch gears but once in a blue moon it will drop into gear. It will slowly move and finally catch if I force rev it which is extremely bad to do but it'll get the car moving.

My question is I just recently discovered that my car will allow me to start the car while it's engaged in drive. Why? What part is broken? What does that mean and does it have something to do with why my transmission won't engage? What damage could it do?

  • 1
    Have you checked the auto transmission fluid level?
    – HandyHowie
    Jan 29, 2021 at 8:43
  • I'd guess there's a problem with the linkage/cable between the shift lever and transmission. Jan 29, 2021 at 18:21
  • So the previous owners say that they were doing a tranny flush and a orange piece of plastic came out of the tranny pan and i guess ever since then it just wont drop into gear? And the transmission fluid was right at an 8th of an inch to the pan. Jan 29, 2021 at 21:06
  • There is no dipstick to just check the transmission fluid level Jan 29, 2021 at 21:08
  • 1
    Sounds like a bad neutral safety switch.
    – Moab
    Feb 14, 2021 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


Automatic transmissions have a "neutral safety switch" that is designed to prevent the starter motor from engaging except when the transmission is in neutral or park. Vehicles with manual transmissions have a similar switch on the clutch.

It's likely that the switch isn't opening when the gear selector is moved to the drive position. To fix it you'd need to check that the switch hasn't been damaged (or bypassed) and then adjust it to so that it opens when shifted into gear.

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