Need car parts? Select your vehicle
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The gear shifter in your vehicle can fail due to several reasons. If left unresolved, it could cause problems that can make driving risky or a hassle. Fortunately, your vehicle’s computer will alert you every time your gear shifter develops issues by triggering the service shifter message on your dashboard.

What Does It Mean When It Says Service Shifter?

The service shifter warning indicates an issue with the gear shifter and the need to have it serviced by a mechanic. It could also mean that the software needs updating, the cabling to the shifter is faulty, or the brake light switch is malfunctioning.

What Does a Gear Shifter Do and Why Is It Important?

The gear shifter lets the driver change gears in a manual gearbox and select different driving modes in an automated transmission. It enables the driver to control the transmission and adapts the vehicle’s performance to changing driving conditions, guaranteeing optimal power delivery, fuel efficiency, and drivability.

See also  Where is the Fuse Box Located?

What Triggers a Service Shifter Warning Message?

While the problems that could trigger a service shifter message warning vary depending on the vehicle, they all point to a fault in the gear shifter.

In a Jeep Cherokee, for example, the service shifter message could appear due to a bad shifter bezel, outdated software, a faulty fuse box, a wiring issue, and a brake light malfunction.

Bad Shifter Bezel

The shifter bezel refers to the plastic piece that surrounds your ride’s shifter knob. As your ride gains mileage, it can get warped, cracked, or torn, which could turn the shifter light on.

Outdated Software

Just like conventional computers require regular updates, the car’s computer also needs a software update occasionally. Failure to stay on top of such updates can cause problems for the vehicle, including an activated service shifter warning message.

Faulty Fuse Box

The service shifter light could illuminate if the vehicle’s fuses become faulty.

Wiring Issues

During inspections, a mechanic would check the wires running from the shifter to your ride’s control module. If they’re damaged or worn out, they could be the culprit behind the triggered warning message.

Brake Light Malfunction

In rare cases, faulty brake lights could trigger various dashboard warning indicators, including the service shifter warning message.

Is It Safe to Drive With the Service Shifter Message On Your Dash?

You can technically drive even if the service shifter message light appears on your dash. However, whether it’s safe to do so depends on your vehicle and its transmission type.

See also  Bad Transmission Shifter Cable Symptoms And FAQ

For example, experts recommend having 2014-2015 Jeep Cherokee KL models towed when their service shifter message activates, as it could point to transmission-related issues.

Whatever your vehicle’s make and model, don’t disregard this error message. Remember that a gear shifter is critical to the operation of your vehicle. Avoid accidents on the road by addressing this error message immediately.

How Long Does a Gear Shifter Last?

A gear shifter is meant to last the life of a vehicle. However, like some car components, it can wear out prematurely. The lifespan of your ride’s gear shifter depends on various factors like your driving habits and how often you take your car for maintenance checks.

What to Do When the Service Shifter Message Activates

Don’t panic once you notice any warning light or message on your dash. If you’re driving, find a safe spot and pull over. Inspect your gear shifter for any visible faults. You can also do the following:

Find Technical Service Bulletins and Recalls

Technical service bulletins are special notices sent to service dealers by the automaker for issues that affect a significant number of its vehicles.

These bulletins provide information about the issue and how to fix it. They may even provide a step-by-step guide on how to solve the problem.

You can look for TSBs on the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) website. Enter your ride’s year, make, and model to view the ones that apply to your ride.

See also  Where Is the Tail Light Fuse Located?

Aside from looking for TSBs, you can also find out if your specific make and model is part of a recall based on a related issue through the NHTSA site.

Check If The Problem Is Covered by Warranty

 If your ride is still under factory warranty, then you’re lucky. All the repairs needed to fix the issue will be covered by your automaker. You can contact your dealership to know if your car is still covered by warranty.

Take Your Vehicle to a Licensed Mechanic

Licensed mechanics can determine and address the issue that triggered the warning message. They can also identify and prevent potential problems that could affect your daily driver down the line

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Gear Shifter?

It’ll depend on the specific make and model that you own. To replace the shifter on a modern car with an electronic shifter, expect to pay between $300 and $800. If you own an older car, replacing its shifter cable could set you back around $200 to $550.

If it’s the software that needs updating, expect to shell out more money. You can ask the help of a professional in updating anything on your ride’s computer.

About The Author
CarParts Research Team
Written By Research Team

Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Warning Lights , DIY Tagged With : , ,
carparts answers
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

View all Questions & Answers Answers BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY: Share your knowledge & help fellow drivers Join Now
Copyright ©2023, Inc. All Rights Reserved.