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・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: I may have put the wrong type oil in my car?

Your engine does not show in the manual that it is required to use only full synthetic oil. You can use the synthetic blend or conventional type oils as long as you use the correct weight oil that is recommended...

Q: Car not starting

A healthy vehicle battery is vital for both of these systems to work. The battery should be charged and load tested to determine if it needs to be replaced. A parasitic draw test should be run to ensure the battery...

Q: Front weels will not turn after hitting curb

As with any accident that damages the steering control, you will need to not try and drive the vehicle until you have the vehicle fully inspected to see why you lost steering control. You may have broken the tie rods...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
How Much Does a Mechanic Make in Vermont?
Automotive technician jobs in Vermont have an average mechanic salary of $37k, with some mechanics earning a salary of $53k.