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Cavalier - can't get into gear

So I’m driving to work this morning, 35 miles one way, and I get to my destination, or almost. 1999 Cavalier, automatic transmission, 215,000 miles.

As I get to the red light where I need to turn, it seemed as if it was not upshifting on its own. It is an automatic. I made the turn, then made another turn and as I pressed the gas, it seemed to do the same, not wanting to shift into second. As I turned to go up to the second level of the parking lot, it gave up about 3/4 of the way up to level 2. Pressing the gas just revved the engine. I tried switching into 1, 2, back to D, even to R, but nothing worked. It is like it just gave up and decided the only thing that would work is neutral. When I switch into gear normally, you hear that slight thud as it falls into gear, but when I try it now, nothing happens. Any ideas?


Check your fluid level. But it sounds bad from where I sit. A used trans is MUCH cheaper than a rebuild. Your car is only worth 1500 in working condition, and yours is not working anymore.

i’ve heard two things so far this morning…transmission is gone or fluid is low. I’m in a slant in a parking garage so I can’t really check fluid since you check at the fill plug. Only option I think I have is put in some fluid and see what happens.

Yes, check the dipstick for any fluid. Red color, no burnt odor or foamy appearance is good. You should see some fluid on dipstick even with a sloped parking spot.

(funeral procession music playing…) Fluid was fine, towed to transmission shop…needs new transmission. Not worth the cost of repair so car shopping this weekend…I need a bigger car for family trips so we don’t have to take the Liberty everywhere. Probably try an Impala…Thanks everyone. RIP Cavalier…you done good.

UPDATE - Got a great deal on a 2012 Chevy Malibu LT. Only had it for a few days now, but man, it’s a nice car. I’d recommend it to anyone moving up from a Cavalier and wanting to stick with Chevy.

You said the only thing that worked was neutral, how was that working for you. How about Park??