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Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

 
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 18 Oct 2011, 05:07 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Detroit, MI
Posts: 106
Default Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone who has posted and answered questions in this forum. I bought a 2003 PT Cruiser with 103k miles in June, and every problem that I've had with it has been addressed in this forum and has helped me to save a lot of money by doing the repairs myself! (replaced lower control arms, sway bar end links, engine mounts, rad fan, fog lamps, etc...)

However, a new problem has just arisen that I don't see much info on this forum about. Recently, when I get in the car in the morning, I can back out of my driveway, but when I get into the street and shift into "D", the car won't move. It will just rev the engine when I hit the accelerator, as if it's in N. After turning off the car and restarting it, I've gotten it to work (sometimes I have to attempt this a few times). It's almost as if the car needs to warm up, and then it runs just fine and shifts smoothly. Like I said, I bought this car in June, so this past week is the first time temperatures have dipped into the mid 30's in the morning, when this occurs.

I was thinking that maybe it has something to do with the trans fluid, but when I bought this car, I took it to a shop to get an oil change, and also a trans flush that included replacing the trans filter and inspecting the unit. There hasn't been any leaks coming from this car, so I assume the trans fluid is not the issue. I haven't checked the fluid level yet, because I don't have the car with me currently and I wanted to get this post up sooner than later.

Any ideas on what may be causing this?
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Old 18 Oct 2011, 05:32 pm
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Default Re: Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

Harry,

It still might be the trans fluid. Can you confirm that ONLY ATF+4 fluid was used in the flush? Second, suspect in all this is that the trans filter doesn't have to be touched when a shop or dealer does the flush. Not saying they can't do it, but with a flush comes a cleaner first that is supposed to clean the filter so it doesn't necessarily need changing. The big thing is the type of fluid. If they used the wrong kind, bad things can happen to the trans.

From the link below: 90% of Chrysler transmission failures is using the wrong transmission fluid!

Tips to Chrysler - how to save millions on transmission repairs

Last edited by CREWZIN; 18 Oct 2011 at 05:36 pm.
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Old 18 Oct 2011, 06:05 pm
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Location: Detroit, MI
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Default Re: Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

Crewzin, thanks for the response. The trans flush was done at a Chrysler/Dodge dealership, so I hope they used the correct type of fluid. I checked the receipt and it doesn't specifically state whether it was ATF+4 or not.

The service they performed was: "REMOVED TRANSMISSION PAN & INSPECTED VALVE BODY; REPLACED TRANSMISSION FILTER; INSTALLED CLEANSING AGENT TO DISSOLVE & SUSPEND THE VARNISH AND GUMS IN THE TRANSMISSION, VALVE BODY, TORQUE CONVERTER, PAN, TRANS LINE, & COOLER. FLUSHED ENTIRE UNIT & INSTALLED FRESH/NEW TRANSMISSION FLUID."

As far as why they replaced the filter, I'm not sure. Maybe it needed it or maybe it was just to get an extra $12.87 out of me.

I'll call them tomorrow to verify if they would use ATF+4 fluid for this vehicle and if they've ever heard of this problem. Can I tell by looking at the fluid what type it is? (by the color or anything)?

Thanks again.
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Old 18 Oct 2011, 06:09 pm
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Default Re: Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

Most trans fluids are redish but I wouldn't worry about that now. You didn't say it was a Chrysler dealer so I'm sure they used the right fluid. Sorry, that's all I can think of for your trouble with the cold start.
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Old 18 Oct 2011, 06:14 pm
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Location: Detroit, MI
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Default Re: Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

I read the link you provided and it seems that some Chrylser dealerships may not even be using ATF+4 exclusively, so I'm at least going to call them any verify.
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Old 21 May 2012, 06:34 am
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Default Re: Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

I have an 04 touring editing pt that's having the same exact issue only my transmission won't shift at all. The only gears it will shift to are park and neutral. before it completely stopped shifting I had an issue with it slipping constantly. I lost my job in february and the issues started at the beginning of march and the transmission completely stopped shifting somewhere around the 20th of march. I can't even shift into reverse. I checked the throttle control and the solenoid and my dad checked something else (He knows alot) and we can't figure out why it's doing this. I have the right fluid in it because over a year ago I had it flushed and specifically bought the ATF+4 fluid and watched the mechanic put it in. the CEL light has also had an issue since I got the car and not even the dealership could figure this one out. for some reason the CEL light has always come on and off randomly and when I do the code check it doesn't show any codes. I'm doing the code check correctly (3 key turns within 5 seconds) and regardless of whether it's on or off it just shows "DONE" instead of any error codes. also before the transmission problem there's always been this issue where if I the car was idling while the A/C was running, it would cause the engine to shake the car with a lot of force and sometimes even stop running. but it was fine if I idled without A/C, with heat, or if I put it in park with the A/C running or if I was driving with the A/C running or not running. and with this issue the dealership also couldn't figure out the issue. I've had to replace the camshaft sensor three times and once my girlfriend was dumb enough to take it to walmart for an oil change and they put too much oil in and it caused an oil leak that I've had 3 fix attempts made by mechanics for and it still leaks. the engine problems make this car a piece of junk in my opinion but it's all I've got because it's the only car my dad would buy me and that's because even though it was cheaper, he refuses to buy an import, even if it's a used one at an american car dealership. I'm 100% positive that I would of been better off with the 98 mitsubishi eclipse GTS with 5-speed standard transmission and perfectly working and in great condition than this pt loser but like i said, I had no choice. now I don't have a car to drive. no car, no job. and I can't fix my car without some form of income. I'm lucky my parents let me move back in, otherwise I wouldn't have a home, nor internet to place this post.
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Old 21 May 2012, 01:04 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Detroit, MI
Posts: 106
Default Re: Automatic Transmission won't shift into 1st gear when cold

Zanderzun, the reason my PT was not shifting into first was because when the dealership did the ATF flush and fill, there was an air pocket in the system. This led them to believe the system was full, but when the bubble worked itself out over the next few days, I was short on fluid. I took it back to the dealership and they topped it off and the transmission has worked great ever since. I'm not sure if this if the case with yours, but at least double check your fluid level.

As far as the engine shaking when the A/C is on, that's almost guaranteed to be your radiator fan not working. You can either replace the fan or the motor, or try to fix the motor yourself by replacing the carbon brushes. Just do a search for "radiator fan fix" and you'll find plenty of info.

Sorry to hear about all your problems. These PT's do have plenty that go wrong with them (as do most cars), but this forum is a great place for information on almost anything that can go wrong.
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