Mazda 626 late shifting


I have a 1999 Mazda 626. Lately, it seems to shift into 2nd gear much too late - ~5000 rpm - regardless of acceleration. Is there a good place to start diagnosing this problem? I’ve heard everything from new tranny to neutral safety switch.


When you checked the transmission fluid, what did you find regarding its level, color, and odor?
When was the last time that the trans fluid and filter were changed?

Hi! Sorry for the delay getting back to you. I checked the transmission fluid, and it looks pretty good - transparent, still on the pinkish side, and no burnt smell - but the level does appear low, around the bottom of the hashed area on the stick. I haven’t noticed any drips in the driveway, but have not gotten under the car to see if there are any drips on the transmission. Could the low level be the cause of the delayed shifting?


Could the low level be the cause of the delayed shifting?

No. Get a fluid and (if applicable) filter change (not flush) and hope for the best.

I added half a quart earlier, and it didn’t seem to make any difference. Why do you think a fluid and filter change would make a difference if the fluid looks good?

Trust me, it’s your only hope (been there).

Agree w/ @insightful , a proper service, that’s your best bet.

While the mechanic is doing that, ask them to check to make sure any electrical connectors to the transmission remain in good order and not corroded or burned.

Recent-era transmission designs – not sure if it applies to your 99 – use electro/magnetic selenoids as part of the shifting strategy, and those can go on the fritz, something to consider anyway, and replacing those are not nearly as expensive as a tranny rebuild.

The vehicle speed sensor is another possibility, if the tranny uses that as part of its shifting strategy.

I expect tho the proper service – if such a thing has’t been done in quite some time and miles – will improve the situation. Automatics use sort of a hydraulic computer to work their magic, so instead of wires there’s tubes, lots of tubes, and those tubes have to hold the pressure they are supposed to hold. It is like if you were flying in a helium balloon, it wouldn’t work so well if it started to leak, right?

Many of the tubes are formed by the connection of the valve body to the guts of the transmission, and that interface can be a place where the pressure leaks. So it might be a good idea while the pan is removed to ask the mechanic to re-torque the valve body bolts.

Neutral safety switch? I don’t think so. But you may have some of the clutches wearing thin. In that case, it would be rebuild time.