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Transmission issues?

I’ve got an '06 Suzuki Forenza.

A few weeks ago, when driving on the highway (around 65mph) the car revved about 1,000 RPMs, jerked, and then the dashboard display (that normally shows D, 3, R, etc for your transmission) started blinking and all of the letters were showing in one big jumble. Accelerating made the car behave as though it were in neutral.

I slowed down, put it down into “3” hoping I could limp home, and as soon as it went into 3 it was fine. I shifted back up experimentally, and D worked fine again.

I took it to My Local Mechanic, who looked at it, said the transmission looked great, and that it was probably a computer glitch. Hokay.

The next week it did it two more times. We took it back in last week, and they took it to a specialty transmission place. The specialty transmission place told me it was “an internal problem” and that I needed an $1800 rebuild.

Telling this to another mechanic friend (who is sadly not nearby) elicited a guffaw. He told me it was the range sensor and that Suzukis were notorious for them randomly going out, and it did that same thing. Googling that showed me that, yes, they apparently go out all the time, and yes, it behaves the way that my car did.

I called my mechanic back, told him what was said and what I’d found. He called back a few hours later and said that the transmission place said the range sensor was fine because no engine codes had been picked up by the computer.

My out of town mechanic friend told me they didn’t always do that, and offered order the part for me and put it on (it’s apparently around $40 and a breeze to install).

I would obviously rather have a $40 problem than an $1800 problem, but I don’t want to be the idiot who’s transmission explodes because she used Google Mechanic. Anybody got any experience with this?

Tell us something about this “specialty” transmission place? Was it a national chain kind of place (e.g. AAMCO)? What you need is a small, local, independent transmission specialist. No matter what kind you saw first, you can always get a second opinion. And don’t let anyone vaguely refer to “an internal problem.” Ask them to specify exactly what error codes were stored in the computer and what exactly about the internals is wrong. If you get that info you can post it here for comment.

If it were me, and your symptoms match what you find online, and its only $40 I’d probably just have the range sensor replaced.

It is an AAMCO, but they’ve worked with our mechanic for a long time. (This is my husband’s family mechanic, they’ve been working on their cars for 30 years so it’s also become this huge family deal as well. Woo).

According to them, there were no error codes at all in the engine. Which is even more confusing, because such a small part “has” to generate an error code to be bad, but the whole transmission needing to be rebuilt generates nada?

I’m leaning towards doing the $40 replace and holding my breath, but I was just concerned that it was an exceptionally stupid idea which may turn an $1800 problem into a $3000 problem.

Ok - first, I am not a transmission expert - so take my comments for what you will.

I do know that AAMCO shops generally want to rebuild most anything that comes thru the door whether it needs it or not. It wouldn’t hurt even a little to get a second opinion. A local trans shop in my area does a basic check and diagnostics for $75.

Like I said, if it were me, I’d do the range sensor. Then if this kind of episode happened again I’d be on my way to the trans shop.

Is the check engine light on right now?

No, the check engine light has never come on while it’s having this issue, even during one of the “episodes” where I’m coasting along with a blinking dashboard display, and it’s never given me even a hint of trouble while actually shifting. (All of these problems occur at 65mph+, and my car makes it’s final shift around 50 or so, typically). Basically, it only goes out when I’m coasting along at an even speed in top gear.

It is an AAMCO.

All Automatics Must Come Out!