Not shifting from 2nd to 3rd

I backed out of the drive way with My 96 Dodge Intrepid yesterday and when I put it in drive I noticed the CEL came was on. Seemed like it came on with in a few seconds of driving forward. I was driving slow as that is what is called for in my neighborhood and all seemed ok. About 2 minutes later when I was going about 40 I noticed the Tach was at about 3k. I seems it will not shift into 3rd. I moved the shift lever several times and it did not seem to impact anything. I immediately drove home and used my other car to go to my appointment. It did seem to shift fine other than that.
It never got to warm so I did not check the fluid but I did check it a few days earlier and it was ok. We had snow the previous day and I would have noticed any leaks on the drive way, which I did look for, and did not find any.

I know I need to get the CEL read. I need to drive about 10 miles to get somewhere to do that. Is there anything else I can check or try before hand? Any ideas. My guess is it is an electrical issue as it happened fast with out any warning. I don’t have a lot of experience with transmissions but my guess is it is a solenoid not working. It may be fried or it is not getting a signal. Possibly VSS or something in the powertrain module or what every they call it in Chrysler world? At this point any ideas appreciated.

There’s not much point in doing much until you get the code read, although there’s never anything wrong with beginning with a thorough visual inspection of anything you can inspect. Look for anything obviously out of place. Maybe a rodent just decided to make a nest out of some of your wiring. Maybe your battery connections or ground connections are not looking so good.

But mostly any of that is a shot in the dark without the codes. I’d imagine you will end up with a transmission related code or something very closely related to transmission function since it sounds like whatever it was put the trans into limp mode. This generally leaves you with 2nd gear only, and its a precautionary thing programmed into the TCM/ECU

It just went into limp mode. If its electronic, possibly it will reset again when you start the car but maybe not. If its too far to drive, just tow it. That’s what tow trucks do, but best to talk to the trans shop or the dealer first to know where to tow it to. You don’t really want to have Autozone or someone reading the codes at this point.

Personally, I WOULD have Autozone or someplace reading the codes first. FREE is good. A diagnostic charge at a dealer to find out you have a bad speed sensor (or something like that) that you can replace on your own for next to nothing in terms of parts and time would be annoying. If you get the codes read for FREE and it becomes something you can’t sort out, then you can always get it to a trans shop of dealer or something.

Is trans shifting from 1st to 2nd? Or do u have 2nd gear only?

It shifts fine from 1st to 2nd. Reverse works too.

I am not familiar with limp mode. What would typically cause this to be triggered?

Any error the computer picks up on that relates to transmission function triggers it. It’s purposely programmed in there so you don’t smoke the transmission - at least if it isn’t smoked already.

The full phrase for ‘limp mode’ is ‘limp home mode’. The Power Control Module goes to this mode when it cannot control the transmission functions. It lets all the shift solenoids drop to default and you get just 2nd and Reverse. 2nd is too low to drive long distances on the highway. It is meant to allow you to get the car to a repair shop for service.

There are a number of faults that can cause ‘limp home’ mode. If the fuse to the solenoid pack is open, i.e blown, you defacto get 2nd and reverse. If the input turbine shaft sensor or output speed sensor fails the PCM commands ‘limp home’ mode. There are also a lot of other sensors, engine faults, and transmission faults that trigger this mode.

This is where getting the codes read is very important. A capable transmission technician with a code scanner with data capability can really zero in on the likely problem. You might be able to fix the problem by ‘shot gunning’ the diagnosis, i.e. replacing a lot of parts, but you might not and you cannot return the parts you have installed.

Hope this helps.

Yep, limp home mode for sure. Don’t bother trying to get the codes read at AutoZone; they use a standard OBD II scanner and will tell you it’s P0700. That’s just a generic PCM fault code. A more advance scanner is needed for specific transmission codes. The most common reasons for limp home mode are input/output sensor and shift solenoid problems (or problems with the wiring for these parts).

OK , Here is where I am at. Today it was about 17 degree F. I started the car and let it idle for about 20 minutes to allow it to warm up. I checked the trans fluid and it was in the full area.

I decided to take it for a test ride and it ran fine. The light was still on so I drove to an auto parts store and had the following codes read:


They did not have the definitions relative to my car.

I did some googling and the P1768 is related to the transmission solenoid. The P1689 is related to the ECM control module unable to communicate with the TCM.

I do recall getting these code once in the very distant past and I cleaned up the connections to the ECM and added an other engine ground as one was suspect looking. Cleared the codes and they seemed to go away and were forgotten until today. I don’t ever recall the car go into limp mode.

I guess I need to check these connections again.

I did see one comment on a board that said the wrong trans fluid can trip the first mentioned code. This seems odd to me but I will defer judgment and comment to those more experienced. A few weeks a ago there was a slight trans cooling line leak I did add some new trans fluid (~ 8 oz) It was the Walmart Super Tech ATF+4. It was all I could find when at the store and it said it was compatible with ATF+3. I have always used a brand named ATF+3. Again, I find this a stretch, but could it be a factor?

There are a over two hundred generic OBDII transmission codes that a generic OBDII scanner will pick up and report - like the kind used at Autozone. All of the P07xx and P08xx are transmission codes. Anyone who would like to can find them here:

Not all of those will apply to this vehicle, and many would point one to the nearest good transmission shop. But it’s surprising how suddenly a sign of transmission issue is so mysterious that one needs to immediately run to a transmission expert. Many many many transmission issues are quite simple and manageable without footing the huge diagnostic bills. This is especially the case with those Dodge 41TEs and their derivatives. Many of those are in a scrap yard for want of a proper ground or a gunky speed sensor. These things are not mysterious and worth investigating before one puts oneself at the mercy of a transmission shop.

Is someone afraid that Autozone will damage the transmission by scanning the computer for codes? Tell you what OP - if you get the codes scanned for FREE and then someone tries to sell you something just based on the codes, don’t buy it. Report the code here and/or search the internet to see what you find out. The Allpar forums are great and full of knowledgeable dodge people.

I really think you need to talk to a trans shop or a dealer on this. When my Olds went into limp mode, it was the solenoid pack for about $250 plus towing 40 miles to a shop I trust. That was GM though and don’t know about Chrysler/Fiat.

I guess I was lucky and I got some codes read that I can work with. Sounds like I should try an Allpar forum and see if I can get the attention of someone with this specific experience on a similar make/model.

If I was me, I would just start by going back to the wiring. Pull and clean the plugs, check the harnesses and grounds. You might have to end up at a transmission shop - but it very well can be as simple as loose/dirty connection, bad ground, etc.

I noticed one fault that is common with both P1698 and P1768 is lack of B+ voltage. This could be caused by an intermittant fuse (B a 20 amp) or a bad Transmission Control Relay (or its socket). All are in the Power Distribution Center.

Good luck on this.