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Assuming the pickup is an automatic, check the transmission fluid. The #1 cause for transmission slippage is lack of Automatic Transmission Fluid.
If the pickup is a standard shift, the pin that connects the shift to the transmission has likely broken. You would still be able to shift from the inside but the gears won't engage. A bad clutch is also a possibility but you would have noticed a burning smell prior to the clutch giving out.
1999 cavelier manual trans: My son was shifting his manual trans really rough (ramming through the gears to try to beat someone out at a light) and ended up not being able to put it into anything but 3 and 4 (straight up and down). We noticed that the shifter cable, that actuates the position of the arm on the transmission, had pulled away from a "c" clip and was not held into place about 8-10 inches down the cable away from the trans. The cable needs to be secured into that clip in order to let the wire inside move the trans. lever to shift. Otherwise you will be stuck on what ever "rail" your trans is on at the time of disconnection. It would be the first thing that I would check.
Hi, the rpm going up down means that the solenoid shift within the transmission is gradually wearing out which will start to affect the transmission itself except something urgent is done to rectify the problem. You can as well verify this by visiting any auto zone around you to scan the car ecm.
Please replace the shift solenoid as soon as possible so that it won't further damage the transmission.
start the vehicle, shift transmission to nuetral. then move the 4x4 shifter to the 2wd position. then shift the transmission into reverse and back up a few feet straight, then drive forwards. it should be out of 4x4.