Possible Transmission Problem - '03 Camry

I purchased on '03 Camry one month ago. It has approx 42k miles and an auto transmission. It seems to run great, however, when first accelerating, after the car has been sitting a while, the transmission seems to not want to shirt from third to fourth gear. It’ll finally shift, and then not have any more problems during that trip, even if I stop and start again. It seems only to happen when first accelerating, after the car has been sitting a while. I checked the trans fluid level and it looked fine. Should I be concerned about the transmission?

I have the same problem with my Ford Taurus. Someone in the forum told me that I need to let the engine idle for a few minutes so that the transmission fluid will warm up. I think it makes sense but i also find it does not work in winter. On the other end, the problem disappears in summer even though I just accelerate without waiting for a second.

Ok - I’ll try letting it warm up and see if that helps. I wondered if it was due to a “cold” transmission, but I’ve never experienced this with any other car. This is the first Toyota I’ve owned though, so hopefully it’s just a quirk of the car.

If the engine’s cold it’s normal for the transmission not to shift into forth gear. Doing this allows the engine to come up to operating temperature faster thereby reducing emissions.


I can’t tell you what is normal for a Camry (or Taurus) transmission. I can tell you that by design many transmissions do not have all of their functions until the fluid reaches a certain temperature. This is very frequently the case with the torque converter clutch (TCC) lockup. One thing to pay attention to is the question of whether it won’t shift into 4th or whether the TCC clutch won’t lock up.

In a 4 speed you’ll actually have something that resembles 4 shift points (rather than 3)- 1-2 shift; 2-3 shift; 3-4 shift - then TCC lockup. On some transmissions that lockup is fairly noticeable and only happens after hitting 4th gear. On other designs it can be anywhere in the mix - but either way if the TCC is off, the engine’s rpms will be higher than when it kicks in.

paulmva03 - the best way to keep your transmission working well for a long time is to have the pan dropped & filter changed every 3yr/30K miles. I’ll bet yours has never been done. So my suggestion would be to find your best local, independent transmission shop and make an appointment for a pan/filter service. Tell them that you want someone to test drive it from cold to make sure it is behaving normally. Then just leave it overnight onetime for them to do it in the morning. You need the transmission service as maintenance anyway.

Yes, that is completely correct, the car is functioning perfectly. I think it may even tell you that it does this in the owner’s manual.