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Delayed Engagement

My girlfriend has a 2005 dodge neon that started having some delayed engagement. Firstly, we are in Northeast Pennsylvania, so cold could be a contributor, but she said in the 4 years she had it, it never did this. This is the first winter this has happened. Also, once it does engage after the delay, there are no issues, shifts smooth, no slippage, etc. Any ideas?

Also, we aren’t talking about a 1 second delay here, the delay was long enough that when I backed out of the spot with the car, then shifted to drive, it left me sitting in the street for a good 5-10 seconds asking myself why I’m not moving. But when I shifted back to reverse, then back to drive, it went fine. Am I too hasty? Or could it be an early symptom of an issue. I do admit I didn’t let it run long before I shifted. It also only did it when going from Reverse to Drive. Not from Park to drive.

Have you checked the automatic transmission fluid level . . . ?

how many miles?

has the fluid and filter ever been serviced?

it has only 39,000 miles on it.

I have not gotten around to checking the fluid level, and I am unsure if the filter has ever been serviced, but I will definitely prioritize this. I should get to it Friday so I can check it out so no damage occurs.

I really don’t think anything drastic is wrong, because it does shift fine, but I want to be sure that it does not escalate into An issue

Time for a new battery?

Make sure you use only ATF+4 in this, don’t use any “universal” fluid. I don’t care what it says on the label.

If an automatic, that’s usually either low atf or transmission is in need of an overhaul. If the latter it’ll get worse not better as time goes on.