My 1997 Dakota will not shift into reverse. The linkage seems to be moving enough for the backup lights to come on but runs foreard in neutral and reverse positions. The transmission isn't slipping and shifts perfectly. If anyone has a solution I will be most appreciative.
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Sounds like the shift cable is off the transmission under the hood. Raise the hood and check to see if the cable is moving the linkage going into the transmission when the shift lever is moved in the car. Be sure to have park brake on.
Do you feel detent positions as you move the shifter? If it gives little resistance or lacks detents, your shift linkage has come undone (simple fix).
If you feel detent positions but the transmission does not engage, your transmission has failed. Check the fluid... you'll know.
the shifter linkage has become loose or shifted and not aligning properly, truck will only start in park or neutral. the linkage needs to be realigned and repaired. this should be done at a professional level. the alignment is critical, if it is near shift point it can pop from park to reverse, or change gear suddenly causing an accident or transmission damage.
Check your fluid level to make sure its up to the specified level, then I'd be checking out your linkage from your shifter inside the car right to the transmission, it sounds like to me your linkage may be worn enough to put the vehicle in drive but not reverse. The linkage bushings are a common problem on vdubs. See if you can put the car in reverse by moving the linkage arm directly attached to the transmission (make sure you have someone in the car with the brakes on or caulk the wheels) if it does go into reverse when you manually move the direct linkage arm at the transmission then replace your linkage bushings, if not then the only other problem would be a transmission internal problem. Good luck
Was the fluid you drained red or black? did it smell like trans or gear oil? With linkage disconnected, could you put trans in park by moving the lever on the side of the unit? Oil condition is likely a separate issue...most "blown" transmissions generally have normal operation of shift, it just dosen't do what you tell it to. two things likely going on are: linkage problem and likely in need of fluid/filter change.