1998 Mercury Tracer LS automatic won't shift out of 2nd gear

Recently I had a stuttering and squealing from a belt. I was able to shift into all gears with no problems. Before I could get it looked at, the squealing stopped and I was unable to go faster than 30 mph. The belt and pulley were replaced, but the car now will not shift out of 2nd gear. Transmission fluid is good, and has not been leaking. Does this indicate that I will need a new transmission? Or is there possibly a less expensive possibility? I’ve heard that some vehicles have what’s called “limp mode”. Any ideas? Thanks for any assistance you might be able to give me. Also, is it safe to drive at 30-35 mph., and what damage might I do by driving it?

What belt and pulley were replaced? There aren’t any that involve the transmission that are easily replaceable, without a transmission rebuild. That’s a misnomer, I think, and not related to the transmission.

What kind of maintenance have you done with this transmission, and what’s the mileage on the car?

Separate the belt / pulley issue in your mind from the transmission issue. They don’t have anything to do with each other.

But do clarify - what do you mean that you were unable to go faster than 30mph? Are you now able to go faster than that? Even if you only have second gear, you can go faster than 30mph so its really hard to sort out what you are saying.

It probably is in limp mode. Is the check engine light on? Take it to a big-box auto parts store & ask them them scan it for error codes. Many do this for free. If you come up with any, post them. The format is “P1234” Also report the car’s mileage and say some stuff about the state of maintenance, including any history of transmission service.

I have had the car for less than 6 months, so any history of service prior to my ownership I do not know. The people who sold me the car claimed that the car was serviced regularly, but as we all know they could have been saying anything to get the car off their hands. Had it looked at when I purchased it and everything appeared to be good. This problem did not start until about 2 weeks ago.

The mileage of this vehicle is 107,000. The serpentine belt and belt tensioner were replaced. Before they were replaced, if the car reached a speed over 30-35 mph (i.e. going downhill) I would not be able to accelerate until the speedometer came back down to about 32 mph. Now the car can reach higher speeds, but will not shift out of 2nd gear.

There is no check engine light on, but I will take it to see if they come up with any error codes.

“if the car reached a speed over 30-35 mph (i.e. going downhill) I would not be able to accelerate until the speedometer came back down to about 32 mph”

I’m still not clear on what is or was happening. Are you saying that the car would only get up over 30mph while going downhill? When you say that the car wouldn’t accelerate what do you mean? Say you were doing 35mph and hit the gas to accelerate. Would the car just do nothing? Or you hit the gas and the engine would rev up really high but you’d get no acceleration despite the engine revving? When you took it someplace for the belt did you ask someone to drive it to find out what its doing?

Whatever this is I can’t come up with anything that would have to do with the belt. The belt just drives accessories. A seized pulley could make a mess of things but the description wouldn’t sound like this. What pulley was replaced?