Q: Delayed engagement from P to D when cold, but not in reverse

asked by on October 25, 2017

Hello, this is a problem I noticed on my car for a little while. When it's colder outside or usually on the first drive of the day in the afternoon, sometimes I'll have delayed engagement shifting from P to D. I say sometimes because it doesn't happen everytime, there's been cool mornings where it engages immediately in drive and goes, and others where it's around 1 second before it's ready to move. The colder it gets, it'll take a little bit longer. Doesn't happen when going into reverse, pops right into gear and moves right away. The car behaves normally otherwise, the transmission shifts where it needs to when I'm driving and once it's warmed up, I can shift from P to D with no delay. What could it be? Thanks for any help.

My car has 114000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Many newer automatic transmissions have temperature-sensors in them that, on a stone-cold start, restrict normal shift to only the lower (or non-overdrive gears) until the engine coolant and transmission fluid reach a certain level which in many engines, is around 140 degrees. At that point, engineers generally consider an engine or transmission fully warm for fluid-circulation and engine-stress purposes (this is usually at the lower end of the normal range on an analog temperature-gauge, or when the blue cold-engine light goes off). In some cases, this temperature sensor may fail resulting in delayed shifting or erratic shifting. I would suggest having a professional from YourMechanic come to your location to diagnose and inspect your vehicle.

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