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Car Won't Go Into Drive When I First Start It

I have an automatic transaxle '93 Ford Escort LX. For the past few weeks, when I first get into the car the shifter is stiff and when I first try drive, the engine will rev, but the car does not move forward. Usually after a few times reshifting it goes.

Some days its been much worse then others; I had a repair shop rebuild the shifter, but the problem came back just 3 drives later. It seems like if I drive the car, stop it, and then drive it soon after its OK, but when it sits for a while (like overnight) the problem is worse in the morning.

There was one day too (and this only happened once) where I got the car into drive, and then while I was holding a steady speed, the engine would seem to rev up abnormally, like it was changing gears, but there was no additional speed. By the time I got it to the mechanic and he drove it around, the problem vanished again.

Do you think its the transmission or the shifter? I have a 900 mile drive coming up, and also need to know if driving the car will cause more damage. :frowning:

It sounds like an issue with the shift linkage, but check the transmission fluid level just in case.

One mechanic I took it to looked at the transmission fluid and said it seemed ok.

I have a big trip on Friday (NY to Ohio); will it be dangerous/damaging to wait to have it looked at in OH? Or should I have diagnostics done or something before I go.

I would consider your car not reliable, until I knew that the problems are. In other words, unless you like standing by the side of the Pensilvania Turnpike, I would find other transportation or use the time staying home getting your car back in shape.

Well, it’s possible that it could stop working at any moment, and it is possible that damage is being done while you drive it like this.