Car changes gears

My 1994 automatic Camry recently does not “shift into gear” on first driving in the morning. It shifts into gear about 2 minutes into the drive: I can feel the shifting of gears. Before I realized I had to wait, I just coasted until it shifted into gear. Is there something wrong with my car??

Is there something wrong with my car??

You’re kidding right? I only say that b/c you already know there is something wrong with the car.

The car must be in some gear or it wouldn’t move at all, so I’ll assume that you’re saying that it won’t shift until it gets warmed up. Cross your fingers and check your transmission fluid level since this is something that can happen from low fluid.

If you don’t know how to do that, check your owners manual - you basically want the car fully warmed up, and on a level surface. Keep it running, set the parking brake & with foot on the brake shift thru each gear, pausing in each while you count to about 10. End in park, pull the transmission fluid dipstick, wipe it with a rag, reinsert it all the way in, pull it back out & note the level. The fluid should be red/pink and maybe a little brown - if it is really dark and smells burned this is bad & you need a transmission shop.

If you find the fluid low, add according to owner’s manual instructions & take it to a good local transmission shop (not a chain) to evaluate it for leaks.

Of course, the fluid level might not be it at all & a trip to a good local transmission shop is probably a good idea either way.

Thank you for your quick and thorough response…down to taking it to a transmission shop vs. a chain, which I was considering (i.e. Brake Plus who did a good job on my brakes.) Thanks again!!

You most certainly don’t want a chain shop of any kind - especially a chain that specializes in brakes when you have a transmission issue.

You need to ask around among people that you know for a good, local, independent mechanic to work on your car (for all general needs). If you establish a relationship with such a place it becomes an easy place to stop into when you have problems like this. Most reputable local shops would have someone check your trans fluid for you and advise you about what to do without seeing you as the next boat payment (or way to maintain margins required by the Corporate office).

Sometimes there are simple problems - e.g. your transmission pan started leaking, and you have lost enough fluid that the transmission doesn’t work right. Any good shop can easily handle your leak and send you on your way w/in a few hours for $100 or so.

Sometimes there are complicated problems - like you need a transmission rebuilt - and your local shop should be able to recommend a specialist that you can trust. Either way, you’re more likely to get honest and competent service.

It turns out the car had a leak in the seal which the mechanic fixed it by pouring in a solution that is designed to seal the seal. It’s been more than a week now and there has been no leak since and the car works like new! Thanks for your professional and much appreciated advice. BTW, it cost $260+ for the work. Thanks again.