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Trans question on 2005 Chevy Cobalt

I was up north this weekend, and borrowed my aunts 2005 Chevy Cobalt. I noticed that when you put the car in drive from park or neutral, it felt like a manual car would when you let off the clutch. It was a slow engage. Once engaged it was fine, shifted fine, no chatter, nothing. I could come to a light and take off from a dead stop with no issues. It was just that first time after putting the car in gear. I drove the car over 300 miles, and got over 30 MPG over the weekend, so the rest of the car seems OK…

I went to check the fluid, and alas Chevy did not put a dipstick on this car. So that is a no go. The Car has about 89,000 miles on it, and my Aunt is unsure if she ever had the trans fluid changed (Knowing her I am going to guess not)… However part of the cars history is that while driving in NYC, a truck dropped a piece of metal in front of her, she could not avoid it and drove right over it. This thing ripped the oil pan right out, and by the time she got to the side of the road the motor was locked up. So the insurance co put in a used motor, I do not know if the trans fluid as changed at that time. She was going to check.

SO my questions are, she is drives this car into NYC every day for her daily commute so it is pre-beaten up. It does not have much value to it. She is debating keeping it just as a commuter as it runs great, and has nice ICE cold AC… OR should she hurry up and trade it in?? Will a trans pan drop and fluid fill help her (or is this unit sealed) ? What do you think the issue is? Can it be fixed without dropping the trans?? Is it going to get worse to the point the car will not engage 1st?? What is your advice?

Thank you in advance

gsragtop, by addressing your question to a specific person who may not even be here, you may be limiting input of ideas and suggestions.

That said, do the easy thing first; check the fluid level. We have one car, an 08 with an auto trans that also has no dipstick. The procedure requires a warmed transmission, a manual suction pump to add fluid if needed and that the car is up on a hoist or at least on jackstands or ramps so you can get underneath. The car must be level as well. All of this may require that you have it done by someone with the needed equipment.

I just don’t want my Aunt being taken advantage of. I rather her go in with an idea of what the problem may be.

I know this is a completely different family of vehicle but our Dodge Magnum has something similar on the change from Reverse to Drive. A couple trips to the dealer and the claim is a fluid re-direction has a time delay on it. Once in drive it feels great but is takes about 2 to 3 seconds for it to fully engage. If you decide to move before engaged, you get something akin to clutch shutter on a manual.
I say all this because it may just be that way by design. Go test drive one of the same year and see if you notice it there.