Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Why is my car dropping out of gear

asked by on

The transmission will shift to neutral, and then slam into gear. This happens more often when the van is on a steep decline, and when it is cold outside. It will sometimes fail to engage, and then only go into gear when the rpms reach 2500 or more. Do I need a new transmission?

A: I have seen this issue before on vehicles w...

I have seen this issue before on vehicles with your same drive train. First I would check the transmission fluid level. Do this by starting the engine, letting it warm up to operating temperature, and with the vehicle in PARK, open your hood and check the transmission fluid level and condition. Pull the dipstick for the transmission and give it a wipe, re-insert the dipstick fully and pull it out again -- this time noting the level. There should be engraved markings on the stick indicating proper fluid level. Once you've determined the level, wipe it off with a white rag. See if the color is dark and if it has a burnt plastic smell. The color should be bright red to pink with a heavy petroleum smell.

If the level is low, have an experienced mechanic inspect your vehicle for any transmission fluid leaks. The transmission cooler lines in your vehicle are notorious for leaking, as is the fluid pan. Look underneath your vehicle for any evidence of transmission fluid. Another thing I have seen often leaks is the transmission cooler, which is integrated into the A/C condenser that sits behind your vehicles grill in front of the radiator. If the cooler is leaking, you will see saturation on the fins of the A/C condenser.

With a low fluid level condition, the pump in the transmission cannot build enough line pressure to get the gears engaged. If the fluid smells burnt and has a dark colored texture, this indicates a transmission clutch failure. If your fluid level is normal both in level and smell, you may have a faulty torque converter. This is the part that transfers power from the engine to the transmission. Another possibility is that the transmission or transmission computer (TCM) has failed, which is less likely.

Have a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, inspect your transmission's gear slippage to eliminate any further complications with your vehicle.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Trunk latch not working.

The small push button for the trunk may be defective and will cause the trunk to open by itself if the key is near enough to cause the passive trunk to release and open the trunk. The defective button is...

Q: Engine vibration

Hello, thanks for writing in about your Volkswagen Passat. You should scan the engine computer to see if you are getting a misfire code for one of the cylinders. From what you've described you may have a defective coil or...

Q: I would like to know what can be causing my coolant to drain quickly to the point where i have to re fill it every 2 days no leaks

There is a leak somewhere and if there is no leak, from an external source, then the engine is leaking internally. My recommendation is to have a coolant pressure test and a combustion leakage check on the radiator. This will...

Related articles

How to Renew Your Car Registration in Oklahoma(DELETED)
Having your car registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission is an important part of driving legally in this state. You will need to do this within 30 days of moving to Oklahoma...
P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...