2004 dodge stratus

2004 Dodge Stratus 80K
What happened is my check engine light came on maybe 6 months ago and I took it to have it looked at and they were closing but the guy told me don’t worry about it and I be ok until I come back and it probably wasn’t a big deal. The light went off a day or two so I didn’t worry about it. It came on about a week ago and I haven’t had time to take it in yet. So here is the chain of events-

Check engine light (6 months ago approx)
Check engine light off (couple days later)

Check engine light (1-2 weeks ago)

Put my car in drive, transmission didn’t engage right away. I thought I had it in neutral by mistake. then it engaged.
(about a week ago)

Same thing happened last night except it took longer for it to kick in and when I ran into the store and came out, it backed up ok but wouldn’t go in drive right away. I thought it was because it was freezing) out and maybe needed to warm up better. (we had a terrible ice storm here in Washington).

Please help

The first thing to do is check the transmission fluid. Its best to do that when the car has been driven a while but I would do it cold before you drive it again. You need to follow the procedure for checking it that is outlined in the owners manual. This usually involves having the car running, shifting through all gear positions pausing for a good 10 secs in each, and then returning to park or neutral (that’s the biggest thing to figure out) and checking it with the car idling. The dipstick will have a range on it and the bottom of the range usually marks the level for cold fluid. If you find it low you need ATF+4 fluid - nothing else - and your best bet is to get it up to level before driving.

What is the maintenance history of this transmission? None?

As for the check engine light, you have to find out what the error codes are. Many auto parts stores read these for free. Get them read and post the exact codes here. The code format is “P1234.” Don’t post what someone said it meant without posting the “P” number.

The check engine light and transmission’s delayed engagement are probably not related.

Thank you so much for answering so fast.

I did check the fluid and it was very low, (almost none) so I put in a quart and let it run for a while to warm up. My dad had me back up a little to see if it was leaking and what do you know? Pink fluid in the white snow. Not a lot but enough. I won’t drive it until I know it is ok. All I want to do is get it to a shop.

And no to your question about past tranny problems. This is a first. In fact, I have had no major problems with the car. Just maintenance.

Thanks for your help.

That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Will do Monday.