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Is my transmission going out or possibly going out?

Situation: i put my car in park going about 15-20 mph, car still drives fine, in All gears. Tested multiple times.Also, don’t have the money to take it to a transmission shop or anywhere to really have it “checked out” which i know everyone will say to do (obviously) so i’m trying to troubleshoot through this site through you guys (i know you’re going to say someone has to actually see it)so i can figure out what to do.

BUT i noticed the car revs up a decent amount more when shifting gears. It’s not SUPER noticeable but it’s there. SO, does that mean this damaged my transmission now (if so what does this sound like and how much would this specific thing cost to repair, not replace. I was told transmission repairs are much cheaper then having to replace if you catch the problem early, is this true?) or would i be better off selling this car and just saying that it drives fine to my knowledge as of now.

The car is a 2003 pontiac sunfire. I bought it for 3k, and replacing a transmission will cost the car itself. I can probably sell it and get 2.7-2.8k for it right now.

So, what should i do?

Also to be more specific it used to “shift gears” at about 2 and a half rpm or a little less. It is now shifting at 3- 3.5 rpm. Making a decent but not super loud revving noise.

Also, how long could i technically drive it like this if it is “going out” what does it sound like is SPECIFICALLY wrong with the transmission and how much would that cost to be fixed?

The only thing that you would damage on an automatic transmission by putting it in park while moving is the parking pawl. It should not have damaged anything else. If the transmission still holds in park…drive on. I think you are experiencing some anxiety over your driving boo-boo. BTW…most modern transmissions will not allow you to shift into park while moving. Also…you own a “used” car so why not consider a used transmission if you ever need to replace it? I’ve never bought a new or rebuilt transmission in my life and have had really good luck at the salvage yard.

missileman, the car is a 2003. It’s not modern enough to have the protection to not put in park at least at that time. Are you sure the only thing i could’ve damaged on my 2003 automatic by putting it in park at 15mph was my parking pawl?? 100%?

I’m fairly sure that your car is modern enough to have this feature. Like I said…if you have no problems in “park” then the tranny is more than likely OK. As for being 100% sure…I’m not 100% sure it’s early Sunday morning but my watch says it is so that’s what I’m going with here.

My car was shifted into park. It slammed to a hault and it was in park when it stopped. It’s only a 2003. Doesn’t even have power windows.

Why does not having problems in park matter so much? How could it have not messed up other gears or something?

The parking pawl is a little piece of metal in your transmission that hold your car in place when you shift to park. If your car stays in park with no problem then the little parking pawl is OK. If it broke off…it might cause problems but if it’s not broken…you dodged a bullet. I think you are over-thinking this somewhat but that’s probably normal if you are not familiar with how an automatic transmission functions. Here’s a picture: Just click on it for a larger view.

I see what you’re saying. What i’m asking is if (USUALLY) anything else aside from the parking pawl could be damaged from throwing it into park.

I ask this cause when i said “yeah i threw my car into park at 15-20mph i know it was stupid” most people go “WOW i’m surprised your car is even RUNNING.”

So why do you keep saying it’s fine and nothing is wrong (most likely) purely cause i can park without it moving?

Missileman 's first reply covers it all. The parking pin either works or it is broken, very easy to check. Think of it as a big nail or pin that slides into a hole to keep the transmission from turning. If you put it in park and the car does not move it is OK and not damaged. Park does not have anything to do with shifting, a completely different set of parts are involved with shifting the gears. You are probably over sensitive to the tranny now and paying more attention to it. The tranny has probably had the reving all along, you have now just noticed it. What color is the fluid? How does it smell, if it is pink and sweet it is fine, if it is dark or brown or smells burned get it changed. The shift to park has nothing to do with the state of the fluid, but old fluid can cause/or be a symptom of other problems.

Actually KBB says your car is only worth between $1452 in fair condition to $2127 in excellent condition around here in Northern VA. So even if it is in perfect shape I really doubt $2700-23800. I would do a trans drain and fill, replace he filter, it might help a bit. Then drive it until it drops and see what it would bring at salvage.

I’m going to differ–slightly–with the forum members who have already responded.
While I agree that, even after the “Park incident”, if the Park function is now working properly, the incident is not related to how the transmission shifts.

However, then you have the factors of the vehicle’s age and its unknown (and probably non-existent) history of transmission maintenance. There is such as thing as coincidence, and a transmission that was not maintained properly for 11 years could certainly begin to show signs of slippage at any point, and it would be very easy to confuse cause and effect–in light of the “Park incident”.

If this was my car, it would have had the trans fluid changed 3 times already, and while it is possible that this car’s previous owner(s) were as maintenance-crazed as I am, it is probably not likely. So, this car could merely be the victim of the negligence of previous owner(s) whose long-term negligence is now coming home to roost, rather than a victim of the current owner’s momentary negligence.

My advice is to take the car to an independent transmission shop for a fluid & filter change, and for an assessment of the transmission’s condition. This should at least help to extend the life of the transmission–if it is still actually working in a satisfactory manner–and it could possibly lead to lower repair costs, rather than waiting until it simply stops working.

Just make sure that you do NOT go to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or any other chain-run operation if you want to get an honest diagnosis, good workmanship and a fair price.

The OP’s other course of action is to sell the car, but if he decides to do it, he would be well-advised to disclose to potential buyers that the transmission “may” be slipping. Failure to disclose this to a person who buys the car will result in bad karma following the OP for the rest of his life.

Quote; "or would i be better off selling this car and just saying that it drives fine to my knowledge as of now. "

Yes, why not screw some unsuspecting person, that probably doesn’t have the money to fix the problem either. Making them pay for your stupid mistake.

Why not just pay the piper and get a used trans put in the car. That way you will have a trans that you can trust and you will have learned a expensive lesson from all this.

No one can tell for sure…just becuase the parking pawl still works…what damage was done when you slammed it into park at 15mph. Everyone is only speculating on this, but you noticed the higher RPM shifting, so there must be damage somewhere.

In your original post about this incident, the majority of opinions were to replace the trans with a used one. Have you bothered to price a used trans and the cost to have some shop put it in for you.
I doubt it, you’ve been spending your time trying to figure out how you can get out of this and let someone else pay for youe mistake.
Are you a politician!!!


Your shift points are not determined by your transmission itself. They’re controlled electronically by computer and sensors which are remotely located in the engine compartment. The fact that your shift points are so high tells me you must have a lead foot. I doubt you have damaged it but I am not going to give you the guarantee you seem to be insisting on. I would do as VDCdriver says and have the fluid and filter changed and drive on. Also, try driving a little more gently.

Just happened to think back to the original post where it was stated that the speedometer seemed to be lagging. If damage to the VSS were the cause it could definitely cause a delayed upshift.

Is the Check Engine light on?

no check engine light as of now. jut higher rpm shifts and revs.


no keith, the check engine light is not on.

bump, check engine light is not on? Can i get another response? Seriously? No one actually directly answered my main question.

Which was:

  1. If i threw my car in park, while driving, and the parking pawl is fine, does that automatically or most likely mean the transmission is fine?

I ask this because one of the first answerer’s said basically “if you can put the car in park fine and it doesn’t move then you didn’t damage your transmission”

Is that statement correct?^

The jolt you gave the transmission probably shook some crud loose so that the valve controlling the rpm shift point is sticking. At a minimum, get a transmission drain/refill (not flush) and filter service.