Toyota Tacoma Shift/Transmission puzzle

Hi there all! I have a Toyota Tacoma, automatic (2008) with 119903 miles and something weird happened last night. I started the engine and shifted into Drive and nothing happened, all the check lights came on and there was no sound of gears shifting. It was like the shifter wasn’t connected at all. I put it back in Park and tried again. I may be wrong, but my impression was that the check lights went off and came back on after I shifted into Drive. Again, no sounds of the transmission engaging. I put it back into Park, turned the truck off and went to get my guy to help me trouble shoot. When I got back in, started the truck and shifted, everything was fine! I put it in reverse. All good. Then, just to be sure, I put it into Park and then back to Drive. It worked just fine. Is it possible that the throttle position sensor or shift solenoid is getting hinky? Would a visit to a diagnostic computer tell me there’s a problem upcoming if the truck is fine now? Thanks in advance for your knowledge.

If the Check Engine Light was one of the “check lights” that lit up, it is possible that there is a stored Diagnostic Trouble Code. An auto parts store should be able to check this for you without charge.

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If the Check Engine light is now off, you need a scanner/code reader that’s capable of reading history codes.


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Sounds like the engine failed to start, doubtful there is a fault code in the PCM to explain why.

Thank you! The check engine light was on. So worth a try.

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Thanks ! I’m not sure where to find that. My mechanic sounds like he doesn’t have that.

Engine definitely was running - it runs beautifully!

Sorry, but if your mechanic does not have one you need to find a new mechanic. most Autoparts stores will scan your vehicle for codes for free.


I agree. It seemed really odd when he said that.

Has the level of the transmission fluid been checked?

Yes. Just was serviced about 3weeks ago. But will double check per your suggestion.

In some vehicles if the ignition key is not turned back from Start all the way back to Run it gets stuck in between Start and Run where only the engine and a few other systems are powered.

Try turning the key to Start with it in drive to prevent it from cranking with the engine already running to see if you can reproduce it.