Corolla Transmission Problem

I have a 2003 Corolla with an automatic transmission. It has 44,000 miles on it and has been properly maintained.

The transmission will not go directly from reverse to park. It feels like it is locked. If I push harder the car bucks, makes a clunking noise, and it seems if the engine is going to stall. So I always back out and don’t try to force it. It will go into park from any gear, passing over reverse smoothly. It will go into reverse from from any gear. When driving the transmission does not slip or make any abnormal noise.

It is it possible that what is wrong can be fixed without pulling the transmission out? I have about 3 weeks left on the extended warranty, but I suspect my share of any bill would be more than I care to spend on this car.

You may want to look into the linkage adjustment and the transmission/motor mounts, especially the motor mount often called the “dogbone” due to its shape. When the transmission is in reverse long enough to engage the gear, it causes the engine to rock in the opposite direction that it rocks when in drive. The rocking motion may be putting stress on the linkage that keeps it from going into park. When you shift from drive to park, you never really engage reverse so you don’t torque the engine over.

BTW, the owners manual lists the transmission fluid as a lifetime fluid, its not. I recommend that you check it for discoloration and if not bright red, get it changed using only Toyota T4 transmission fluid. I would not flush this transmission, just drain and refill. If you can change your oil, you can change the transmission fluid.

The filter is a lifetime filter so just draining the fluid and refilling every 30k is enough. At 90k, you will want to drop the pan and clean it out. You need about 3.5 quarts of fluid for each change, 4 if you drop the pan. Check the fluid level on the stick before you drain it. There are no instructions on how to check the fluid in your owners manual or even in the factory service manual (FSM). Some Japanese cars are checked fluid cold, engine off. American cars and some Japanese cars are checked hot, engine running. Best to check yours first and then fill to that level under the same conditions. The FSM does list the drain and refill at 3.5 qts though.

Thank you for your help. Now I am not so afraid to take it to my favorite independent shop and ask them to look at it. I am hoping it is something simple, like under $700. :slight_smile: