'03 Bonneville hard shifting out of 1st gear

My 2003 Bonneville SE (127,000miles) is hard-shifting out of first gear. This happens when the engine is cold or right after it has been sitting with the ignition off. After the initial shift out of first it is fine, but the first shift is the one giving me problems. Any explanations before my Father kills me?

Automatic or manual? Has ever had any maintenance?

Automatic. No maintenance on the transmission. I’ve read about a possible fault with the Pressure Control Solenoid. The symptoms are “hard shifting at low speeds and is intermittent.”

“No maintenance on the transmission”


I got this car last year from my Father, so I’m not positive about what work has been performed.

“Gulp!”-how much does that cost?

hunnerd bucks? Probably 50-80. I’d start here (or ask your dad about it’s history). Check the manual for the frequency. If he did it at 60K, it’s due again.

a hundred bucks for what? PCS?

Before doing anything you need to have a transmission shop scan it for codes. There can be some stored for the transmission even if the check engine light is not on (is it?) The shop should be a local, independent transmission shop - not a national chain.

There is a TSB out (dk the number) regarding hard shifts & PCS but to the best of my knowledge your symptoms don’t fit. But PCS replacement would likely run in the neighborhood of $400-600 or so as it has to go in thru the side cover - not easy to get to.

Get it scanned, write down the exact codes that come out, if any and report those along w/ the tranny shop’s diagnosis & recommendation, of any.

Bad News. Apparently the second gear was going out. $1,600 is the estimate for a rebuild.


Hmmm…I don’t know that I’d be able to make heads or tails of it if you provided it, but did you get any more info out of the trans shop than that? “second gear was going out” is pretty vague and doesn’t say much. The clutches are worn out & about gone? The 1-2 shift solenoid is wacky?

Do you know whether there were any codes set? Or any other results of testing things? As I said, I can’t say that I’d be able to help but others (including transman) might be able to back up their diagnosis or advise you to get another opinion. 127K is pretty high miles, but I’m always thinking I should get more than that and with that many miles a lot of trans shops will just advise rebuild almost no matter what the circumstances are.

I guess I’m mostly skeptical of this vague diagnosis b/c you say this happens only in the morning when its cold and then its fine after that. To me, that doesn’t sound like catastrophe.

The transmission in there is a 4T65E. In addition to posting here you’ll find lots of info on it & problems people have out there on the web.

It’s usually fine after the first shift, but it’s everyday that this happens. I just back from an internship 1,200 miles away. Last year it was an internship 1,000 miles and then a vacation 800 miles. in reality I’ve put this car through hell just in two years. The shop is reputable and it’s still my father’s car, so I have no say or time in taking it somewhere else. My brother had his transmission replaced in his 1992 Explorer at 160,000mi. It lasted past 220,000 mi when the engine seized. I would argue the diagnosis, but again it’s out of my hands.

Before you do anything else, get it scanned for codes. Post back with the code/s. It certainly doesnt sound as though 2nd gear is going out.