2000 Chevy Cavalier automatic transmission trouble

I have a 2000 Chevy Cavalier with 95000 miles. For a few months, it seems like the transmission isn’t changing gears fast enough. It most happens most noticeably when beginning to move from a stop (i.e. at a traffic signal). The car will begin to move forward, but slowly. It’ll get up to 4 or 5000 RPM’s, and then it’ll change gears and the car will sort of lurch forward. I can avoid the sudden jumpiness by going very easy on the gas, so that when it does finally change gears, the engine isn’t spinning so fast.

And now that it’s getting cold, the problem seems to be getting worse. Before the car heats up, it seems like it’s just not going. When I hit the gas after being stopped at a signal (while the car is still cold), it’ll get up to 5000RPM or so, and the car will just very very slowly begin to move.

Any ideas what might be wrong? Timing belt (or does the 2000 Cavalier have a chain?)? Transmission filter? transmission seals? something else?

I would suggest you take the vehicle to a known reliable independent tranny shop.
(Ask your friends, co-workers, etc)

They will likely hook up a scanner and test drive the vehicle (You go with them) to try and narrow down the fault.

If it has been quite a while (say, 30k miles) since the last tranny service, have the fluid and filter replaced.

Most times this will clear up weird shifting.

Other components to look at are the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) and perhaps internal parts (but that means a tranny overhaul), so I would do the service first.

All Cavaliers have a timing chain.

Old/dirty trans. fluid, I suspect. Start with a reputable independent shop. Check the trans. fluid for color and bad odor. Anything that’s amiss means digging deeper. Drain the old fluid, remove the trans. fluid pan, remove the trans. filter, scrape off or otherwise get the old pan gasket off both surfaces. A reputable, experienced shop will check the bottom of the trans. fluid pan for signs of abnormal wear. Reverse procedure for putting everything back together. Pour in the proper type of trans. fluid for your make, year and model to the correct level. Have the shop test drive it and check for leaks. Trans. fluid levels are best checked with trans. fluid up to operating temperature. Ask that the shop check the fluid level. DO NOT OVERFILL! Then drive it yourself. If that straightens out your problem, then get this service done about every 30K or whatever your Owner’s Manual recommends. If you trust this shop, he/she will give you an honest assessment/guestimate of how long this tranny will go. If the shop recommends a rebuilt trans., ask them how much so that you can budget accordingly.

It looks like its scanner time. From what you describe, it sounds like the trans is in limp mode… The only way to know whats going on is to have a trans shop hook up a scanner to see what the computer is commanding.

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