Transmission doesn't engage few minutes after car is started (no codes)

I felt it slipping and revving a bit and within a day or two it quit engaging during normal use. It’s an automatic transmission, and will operate in drive and reverse for a minute after restarting the car, but if I keep the gas going it will stay in drive and have power. I haven’t tried going fast enough for it to shift into 2nd gear while it is working. The fluid isn’t leaking but is in need of a change, and i topped it off with fresh fluid. I get no OBD codes or lights on. If I go into D and keep going on it, it doesn’t stop until I slow down/apply the brakes.

When was the last time the transmission fluid was serviced?


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I’ve never serviced it myself, and judging from the color and texture it’s been awhile. I’ve had it for 2 or 3 years now, so I’m betting it’s passed due. I don’t want to go to the work and cost of fluid and a filter if it’s not going to fix it, that’s why I’m asking here first. Wouldn’t low pressure/clogs/etc give a code usually?

Year make and model and engine size would help knowing a little…

Sorry I thought it would add it since it asked for the detail before posting. It’s an 06 Grand Prix with the 3800.

mileage??? and thank you

I think about 180k miles.

If it hasn’t been serviced every 3 years or so, then that trans is already past its design life. It should have been serviced at least 5 times over the years. Can you verify whether that is the case?

If not, I foresee an imminent trans overhaul.
I hope that I’m wrong, but…

I’m not sure when it was last serviced. I’ve only had the car pretty shortly. I can tell the oil was changed regularly and scheduled, but I haven’t pulled the pan on the transmission to see how bad it is. Assuming the oil was filthy what’re the odds that it took out something simply not worth fixing? The vehicle isn’t worth even another $500 into it at this point.

If–as I suspect the current trans is kaput–get an estimate for the installation of a used transmission.
It will be a roll of the dice, but it might get you another year or so from the car.

Getting the transmission fluid changed will be a heck of a lot cheaper than a new/used transmission, let alone a new/used car.

Just go get the fluid changed, and see if that helps. It’s maintenance that should have already been done.

It would be interesting to see if there’s any pending codes?


180K is a lot of miles on an unknown Transmission… The fluid and filter should have been replaced every 50K miles… But if it has never been replaced and now it is slipping bad, that burns fluid and burnt fluid plus slipping plus high miles normally means it is time for a rebuild…
Now you have clutch packs (and bands) in the transmission that are made up of friction plates & steel plates, as the friction material wears off it mixes with the fluid and makes the fluid gritty (rough) and can still keep the transmission shifting, now if the friction is worn out enough then it can rely on that dirty/gritty fluid to help it shift and not slip (to a point) and if you remove that old dirty gritty fluid out and put fresh clean fluid, now you have nothing to help the friction and steel plates to hold together and now you are stuck with a transmission that wont pull under it’s on power…

Another words you could drive in a vehicle and change the fluid and have to push it back out… Seen it happen many times…

BTW: you should have a “4T65E” transmission

A good transmission shop will drop the pan and collect ALL the old fluid and evaluate the condition of the transmission, you can tell a lot looking in the pan, and if the transmission has to be rebuilt, they can put the old fluid back in the transmission plus top off to hopefully get you back home to decide your next step… Or just have them build it or whatever…

Just for closure’s sake we flushed it, new filter and fluid, and it works much better. Fluid was probably changed twice or three times at most in its life, and the last time it definitely wasn’t cleaned out. Pressure is back up to normal.


Ouch, sounds like your transmission is trying to tell you something! It’s great that you topped off the fluid and it’s not leaking, but it could still be in need of a change. Have you tried going fast enough to get it to shift into 2nd gear yet? It could be a good idea to run a scan for any OBD codes just in case, as well.

I’m going to guess you didn’t read all the posts?


Nice! Even if the trans only lasts for another 6 months or year, you are probably still money ahead in paying for this service and keeping it going. Take a look at the cost of cars and car payments. I bet you didn’t spend one car payment on this service.

You might look at having the service repeated in 6 months if it is still running well. If that neglected, lots of crap is likely to find it way back out into the pan/filter.

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