CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Transmission Problems?

Ive had problems with my 2002 cavalier (automatic) hesitating when I step on the accelerator. Originally when I step on the pedal, nothing happens and a few seconds later the RPMs go EXTREMELY high before my car shifts abruptly and harshly into next gear…any idea on what is wrong?

First thing to do is check the transmission fluid level?

How many miles on the car, and has the transmission fluid ever been changed?

The transmission fluid level is fine…the car has 102,000 miles…and the fluid is either topped off or changed on a regular basis

Transmission fluid is not something that requires regular topping off; if you have to do that you’re losing it somewhere, most likely from a leak.

How does the trans fluid smell, and what is its color like? These might seem odd questions, but they can tell a lot about the condition of the trans. A burned smell and/or dark, dingy coloring could indicate trouble.

As Budd stated, “topping off” a transmission implies that there is a leak, and that is not a good thing. Can elmolly clarify the “topping off” issue for us regarding how often it has to be “topped off”?

Also, “regularly” is not descriptive of anything specific. How often has the trans fluid been changed on this car?

Start by putting a drop of the fluid on a paper towel. It should expand to the size of a silver dollar and be a bright pink, with no debris in it. If it is anything other than that you already have a major problem that needs to be fixed immediately.

Since the unit appears to be slipping I would get it to a good transmision shop right away, though.