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Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

 
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 10:47 am
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Unhappy Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

Hi everyone! I'm new here, trying to figure out what's going on with my car. I have a 2007 PT Cruiser Limited, automatic. For the last month or so, it has been difficult to shift into gear (manually, not when the car is shifting while driving.) Reverse and drive mainly, drive is the worst. Best way to describe it is it feels like you are pulling against a cable that is really tight. This occurs no matter the temperature outside, but is definitely worse in the cold. It recently just got to freezing outside, and the last 2 mornings, I have actually not been able to get the car into drive for about 5 mins when it first starts up. I can get it into reverse and to neutral with some work, but drive will take all the strength I have, but will get stuck between neutral and drive for a few mins, until I can finally force it into drive. When the engine warms up it is easier to move (read: not impossible to shift back into drive) but still not working like it should, and takes some effort to shift into gears. The car does also randomly have issues shifting while driving (revs high until it will finally shift into the right gear when you are accelerating) but I think these might be separate issues. But since they are both possibly transmission related, mentioning both just incase. Right now, I am really just worried about having difficulties getting the car to just shift into drive!
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 11:01 am
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swingingspeedy View Post
Hi everyone! I'm new here, trying to figure out what's going on with my car. I have a 2007 PT Cruiser Limited, automatic. For the last month or so, it has been difficult to shift into gear (manually, not when the car is shifting while driving.) Reverse and drive mainly, drive is the worst. Best way to describe it is it feels like you are pulling against a cable that is really tight. This occurs no matter the temperature outside, but is definitely worse in the cold. It recently just got to freezing outside, and the last 2 mornings, I have actually not been able to get the car into drive for about 5 mins when it first starts up. I can get it into reverse and to neutral with some work, but drive will take all the strength I have, but will get stuck between neutral and drive for a few mins, until I can finally force it into drive. When the engine warms up it is easier to move (read: not impossible to shift back into drive) but still not working like it should, and takes some effort to shift into gears. The car does also randomly have issues shifting while driving (revs high until it will finally shift into the right gear when you are accelerating) but I think these might be separate issues. But since they are both possibly transmission related, mentioning both just incase. Right now, I am really just worried about having difficulties getting the car to just shift into drive!
Try oiling the shaft going into the trans were the cable connects to the trans. You might use penetrating oil first and work it a bit. The shaft might be seizing in the housing. Yes you have other problems. Go to the new members thread and fill out some info . Milage and other info will be very helpful in further help .
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 11:02 am
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

I have had this happen on both a 1995 Dodge truck and a Chrysler Sebring with an Ultraglide 41TE transmission similar to the PT. The problem is often low pump pressure due to a blocked filter, blocked vane or valve, or more commonly a bad front pump. Using the wrong transmission fluid can do this too. I have a modicum of experience rebuilding automatics; professionally when I was young and DIY-style in the backyard later on.

You can try having the fluid changed. Have a shop do it so the system can be completely flushed and refilled with new fluid. Assure they use the right ATF + 4 fluid.

If that doesn't not fix it, you will likely need transmission work. Most shops I know really don't do diagnostics on an aged Chrysler Ultraglide. Instead they just do a complete rebuild. So if it goes to shop, expect to pay for a rebuilt transmission.


EDITED: Wrong advice, I missed the part about the cable. I thought the transmission did not seem to work once put into drive or reverse until warmed up. I'm nuts today.
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 11:15 am
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Default Re: Hard to shift 're gear, worse when cold

So handy you're saying the hard to move shifter is caused by this? or the other symptoms they mentioned? Or both?
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Last edited by Busted_PT; 18 Nov 2014 at 12:17 pm. Reason: Spelling
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 11:24 am
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Default Re: Hard to shift 're gear, worse when cold

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Originally Posted by Busted_PT View Post
So handy you're saying the hard to move shifter is caused by this? or the other symptoms thet mentioned? Or both?
Thanks for letting me down easy. I may have misread the OP's description. After rereading, I believe you are correct. And for some reason, I did not see your earlier post. I must be crazy today.

My advice is for an automatic that does not seem to go into gear once shifted. Basically, you put it in drive or reverse and then it just sits there doing nothing until it warms up. Again, I must have gone insane. I wonder if we have any of Busa's meds left around here anywhere?
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 11:36 am
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

I think you have a similar problem....

07 touring edition reverse not engaging
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 11:55 am
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

While not a cruiser, I had the exact same symptoms on my Intrepid when the shifter cable was finished. The casing had worn allowing water inside and rusting. It slowly got stiffer and stiffer, and when the temp got down to freezing, it wouldn't shift until heat from the engine or exhaust thawed it enough to shift. Eventually I got frustrated, pulled too hard when it was frozen, and it broke. It sounds identical to your gear shifter issues, so I suspect you need a new shift cable.
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 12:16 pm
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by Handy_Cruiser View Post
Thanks for letting me down easy. I may have misread the OP's description. After rereading, I believe you are correct. And for some reason, I did not see your earlier post. I must be crazy today.

My advice is for an automatic that does not seem to go into gear once shifted. Basically, you put it in drive or reverse and then it just sits there doing nothing until it warms up. Again, I must have gone insane. I wonder if we have any of Busa's meds left around here anywhere?
Actually I think your're inline on the other problems they touched on briefly. Was why I ask for more info before going down that road.So don't go busa on us yet. The manual shif is the least of the worries IMHO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by myckee View Post
While not a cruiser, I had the exact same symptoms on my Intrepid when the shifter cable was finished. The casing had worn allowing water inside and rusting. It slowly got stiffer and stiffer, and when the temp got down to freezing, it wouldn't shift until heat from the engine or exhaust thawed it enough to shift. Eventually I got frustrated, pulled too hard when it was frozen, and it broke. It sounds identical to your gear shifter issues, so I suspect you need a new shift cable.
That is certainly another possibility.. If they disconnect the cable at the trans. They will be able to see if it suddenly frees up or marginally does better. To determine if it's the cable or the shaft seizing. Then they can fix whichever it turns out to be.
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 12:21 pm
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

Quote:
Originally Posted by myckee View Post
While not a cruiser, I had the exact same symptoms on my Intrepid when the shifter cable was finished. The casing had worn allowing water inside and rusting. It slowly got stiffer and stiffer, and when the temp got down to freezing, it wouldn't shift until heat from the engine or exhaust thawed it enough to shift. Eventually I got frustrated, pulled too hard when it was frozen, and it broke. It sounds identical to your gear shifter issues, so I suspect you need a new shift cable.
Was that a manual or auto?
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nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
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Old 18 Nov 2014, 01:08 pm
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Default Re: Hard to shift into gear, worse when cold

As for the other person who's thread was linked about the 07 PT Cruiser who's reverse was not engaging, mine is different. Once you can get it into the gear, it engages fine. The problem is actually getting it to shift into the gear. Reverse so far has at least been possible, but when I try to get from neutral to drive, it almost gets stuck in between, and darn near impossible to actually get it fully into drive. Once you get it to move into drive, drive will engage and work. As you know, there's an orange dot that shows you what gear you're in...when trying to shift into drive, that orange dot might barely go into drive, but then you let go, and it sits between neutral and drive. Eventually, I get the car into drive, and off I go. But something's gotta be wrong for it to be so hard to manually move that shifter.

As for the car's info....I didn't see the new person thread yet, but I will look! The timing belt was replaced at 90,000 miles, the car is currently at approx 123,000 miles. It's had spark plugs replaced, right front axel, etc, so I do keep up with it's work. The dealership has driven the veh and noticed this shifting problem, but said the cold wouldn't break it or make it worse...they were wrong! I'm really scared I will snap something and then have to tow the car somewhere.

Myckee, you are right! Different vehicle, but same issue! It's so stiff! When the engine warms up, it does make it easier (read: doesn't need 2 hands and all my strength, plus 5 mins); however, still not like it should be. You could be correct! I will call around, check it out. Maybe the dealership and a couple other places will just check it out for me...diagnostics are expensive, and it seems like everyone where I currently live charges for them! Ugh!

Update: I am at work; however, went out at break to check the transmission fluid, to make sure. It was cold (I just let the engine run for about a min, shifted it between gears, then put it back in park.) After cleaning the dipstick, the fluid was almost halfway between the 2 dots for cold, and was an almost dark red-ish/purple color, not black or brown, so hoping that means the fluid is ok; however, I have never had the fluid flushed. I've had the car since it had 83,000 miles. I got the car in April 2009.

Thanks so much guys, I appreciate the advise! I hope the add'l info helps as well, incase any other ideas/recommendations come up.
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