My car won't go until I warm it up 20-30 minutes every morning

Olds Cutlass Ciera, 1990, v-6 engine
I warmed-up the engine for about 12 minutes this morning (after 8:30 a.m.), its maximum speed was 20 MPH at 30 RPM when I climbed up the hill to Agri Center from Bonita Lakes area on HW 19. I was afraid to exceed 30 RPM, so I stopped near the top of the hill for about a few minutes.

After that, the road is down hill. The engine became vigorous and went beyond 60 MPH at 20 RPM.

My first thought is that you have a severely slipping transmission, and that continuing to drive it like this will only increase the repair bill for the transmission. I am basing that opinion on the fact that the car was apparently going only 20 mph while the engine was turning over at 3,000 RPMs. Normally, at 3,000 RPMs, your car would probably be traveling at something over 70 mph. This type of disparity almost always indicates a badly slipping transmission–if you have an automatic trans. If you have a manual shift, then your clutch is worn out.

(Since your engine’s idle speed is probably something in the area of 600 RPMs, clearly the engine could not be running at 30 RPMs, as you stated.)

It is not unusual for some types of transmission problems to be less severe when the engine and transmission warm up fully, but that improvement does not mean that the trans problem has disappeared. More than likely, you will experience the same thing when you start the car tomorrow. However, rather than driving it, I would suggest that you have the car towed to an independent transmission shop for diagnosis. DO NOT go to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or any other chain unless you want to be told that you need a new transmission–whether you really do or not.

Before having the car towed to a trans shop, you might want to check the transmission fluid in the AM, and refill if necessary with the correct spec fluid (some type of Dexron, and your Owner’s Manual will tell you which version is correct), but if the transmission is low on fluid, it still needs professional attention as trans fluid does not evaporate, and a low fluid level indicates a leak that needs to be repaired.

Just on the possibility that other forces are at work here, it would be helpful if you posted the car’s maintenance and repair record over the past 3 years, but I am still fairly sure that your transmission is the problem here.

Please post back with the outcome of this situation.
Good luck!

Or, the transmission is not shifting out of first gear until the fluid warms up. Unlike newer cars that are shifted with electrical solenoids and have a TCM, this transmission is mechanically shifted with electrically activated overdrive and lock-up torque converter. This kind of problem is common with transmission solenoids that are gummed up and sticking. Maybe a fluid change can help clear this up.

My vote is also for a slipping transmission or one that is not shifting up.
I’d check the fluid first. If it’s low and/or dark in color then you may be looking for a new transmission.

I wonder where Bonita Lakes is but I suspect when he says “30” it means 3000 RPM. It’s say 30 on the guage but in small print will say “x 1000”. Nobody reads the fine print anymore though.

"I suspect when he says “30” it means 3000 RPM. It’s say 30 on the guage but in small print will say “x 1000.”

Hmmm…By my calculations, 30 x 1,000 = 30,000, not 3,000.
However, it’s been a long time since I was in 4th grade, so I could be wrong.

In any event, the OP is mistaken about the engine’s RPMs, as I stated in the first post in this thread.