'96 Toyota Corolla has difficulty going beyond 45 mph

My '96 Toyota Corolla has difficulty going beyond 45 mph on the freeway, especially when the temperature gets down to zero. Normally the car shifts into 3rd gear at 45 mph. Instead it has excessive engine noise. I just keep my foot on the gas, and it goes past 50 mph, but with considerable effort. It sounds like I have the car in 2nd gear when driving at 50 mph. Eventually it “lets go” and shifts to 3rd. There is no CEL on, fuel filter replaced, transmission flushed, spark plugs checked last fall. From other issues I’ve read, I’m guessing it might be a bad thermostat? The car heats fine. Gas mileage is more than normal. No gas smells when I park. Once the engine warms up, I have no problems with the gears shifting. Any suggestions? I had this problem a few years ago. Don’t know what my mechanic did to fix it. My budget is pretty tight right now, so if I can fix it myself, I’d really like to do so. Thanks, everyone!

Your car is not shifting normally. This is a transmission problem. Since you changed the transmission fluid, you basically did all you could. I believe this transmission is electronically shifted, so any problem like this will require a transmission specialist to look at it. There are no external adjustments or detent cables you can tweak.

I was hoping you wouldn’t say that. The car has 153,000+ miles on it, and I’d like to be able to wait 4 more years before I buy another car. I’m afraid to ask how much this might cost to fix?

I forgot to say "“Thanks” for your input!

96? 17 yr old car. And u want to not buy a different car for 4yrs? Yes, u are frugal.

If this is a three speed transmission ( no overdrive button on the side of the shifter ) then it also has a differential that needs to be checked as well. These transmissions are notorious for people not checking the differential. They then run dry and the tranny implodes.

One more thing; never assume that anything is shot until you get it checked out. Countless prople have become stressed out over things that turned out to be minor.

Mountainbike is right:

Countless prople have become stressed out over things that turned out to be minor.

I can vouch for that. On a long trip I had a problem with the transmission periodically holding in second or third. Other times it would shift to overdrive normally. This was an 18 year old car with 280k on the clock. I made home, 1000+ miles, with just a couple incidents and more stress than I needed. Next day my transmission shop scanned it and found I needed a new speed sensor, $33, an external electronic part, which I replaced myself in 20 minutes. I hope you are equally fortunate.

I checked, and yes, I have an overdrive button. I never use it. If I’m being frugal, it’s because I’m unemployed. It’s more important to pay off my house than get a new car! Thus the 4 years. Thanks, for all your feedback! I have an appointment with my mechanic tomorrow. He’s very good and very reasonable. If you live in the Des Moines, IA area, Benson Tan Imports gets it right the first time! He specializes in Asian import cars. I’ve never asked, but I bet he could fix American made cars, too.

Uh, you do know USING the OD on the hwy will increase your mileage? And SAVE gas? And don’t respond I never go on the hwy. where do u drive over 45mph? Side streets?

I read up on “overdrive”. My guess is that when my mechanic flushed my transmission, and possibly the differential, last fall, he turned off the overdrive. Since I do 90% of my driving on city streets, I didn’t notice it till much later when driving on an interstate. If I had remembered I had an overdrive on my front wheel drive automatic transmission, I would have known what to do.

FYI, I edited out some of the namecalling. No need to get sarcastic and resort to name-calling, guys. Thank you.

A friend of mine recently had all sorts of problems with his transmission shifting funny. He was all worried the torque converter was about done for or it was about to give it up completely. A little research indicated his wheel speed sensor was bad. This $35 part was easily changed and the transmission shifted like new. Some vehicles have many of these while some may only have 1 or 2. One for the speedometer, one for the transmission, and one possibly on all 4 wheels for the anti-lock brakes… If your speedometer ever acts strange, this is a good place to look.

On the other hand, this could be a sign your transmission is about to give it up. So, without having it looked at, I would give you an estimate of $35 to the cost of a new, rebuilt, or used transmission. The Camry is a common car so I would have to assume that there are lots of used units floating around. This could mean the price of a used one isn’t so bad. On the other hand, there may be many others just like you driving up the cost of a used trans.

None “turns off” OD or disables it. Your mechanic “unplugged” it? Whew. U feel for that story?