Strange gear shifting while traveling between 50-65

On my way home today my Automatic 2003 Mazda Protege started revving irregularly high for just a second while traveling on the freeway around 60 miles an hour. It would fluctuate between 2.5 and 3 RPMs and then jump to 4 then drop again seeming to loose torque. It seemed to become more frequent as i continued home. Happening every two to three minutes or so not necessarily when traveling up hills. Should i be worried about driving my car?

Yes, you should be worried, simply because of the cost of overhauling or replacing an automatic transmission.

My best guess from afar is that you are having a problem with the torque converter lock-up mechanism, which is an electronic problem. However, if you have not had this transmission serviced every 3 yrs/30k miles, it is also possible that this is a much more expensive mechanical issue with the transmission.

I strongly suggest that you take it tomorrow to an independent transmission shop.
DO NOT take it to AAMCO, Lee Myles, Cottman, Mr. Transmission, or any other chain shop unless you want to be told that you need a new transmission–whether you really do or not.

Incidentally, when transmission fluid is changed every 3 yrs or 30k miles (whichever comes first), transmission problems are rare. On the other hand, when this type of schedule is not followed, transmission failure can take place any time after ~90k miles, and is pretty much of a sure thing after 120k miles. I change my trans fluid and filter on this type of schedule, and I have never had transmission problems, even on cars with odometer mileage as high as 170k.

I hope that by now you’ve opened the hood and checked the transmission fluid. If not you should do it ASAP. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.

I would be worried about this. Automatic transmission are complex and very expensive to repair. Depending on how many miles your Mazda3 has it could be time for a transmission fluid replacement. I would consider replacing the fluid regardless of the mileage.

Cross your fingers and hope the fresh fluid solves the problem.

Read your manual. The trans may be shifting in and out of overdrive. See if there is a setting, such as on my car 3 to prevent that from happening, to see if that is the actual cause. It may be related to terrain, or an engine that is not running up to par. Under certain speeds and conditions this may be normal.

My car has just rolled over to 100k. I bought it a year ago and the dealership i bought it from said they did a tranny flush. I checked the fluid last night and it looks rather brown. Maybe they didn’t actually do it. I found a shop with great reviews thats privately owned that will be taking a look at it tomorrow and doing a flush. Thanks for you help. Would it be a good idea to add some fluid on top of the old stuff before i take it to the shop? I have to drive about 20 miles.

Mazda manuals don’t seem to have anything on the transmission. I just have the basic manual and have yet to purchase the repair manual. I’m taking it in tomorrow. Should i ask them about it possibly being an over drive issue? I have a button on my shifter that i can turn over drive off and on . When its off my car seems to rev higher than normal. I don’t even really know what over drive is for. I’ve just been leaving it on.

This seems to be progressing. I drove it to work yesterday about 5 miles and it seemed to be doing it at slower speeds and more frequently. I hope its not too late.

I’m afraid that you are going to find that it is too late. The damage has been done.
You change the transmission fluid to prevent problems, not to solve them.

The most likely thing isn’t overdrive, but the torque converter clutch (TCC) locking/unlocking when it shouldn’t. Use that little button to turn off the overdrive and this should also lock out the TCC - in fact it might just be turning that off.

Don’t worry about the higher revs. Just see if your symptoms disappear.

Is the fluid level low? If it is, then add fluid. If it isn’t, then don’t.