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Corolla Not Shifting Into Gear Properly


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#1 SpainWeldsCrap

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 05:00 PM

Hello,

I'm new here and would appreciate your advice on my Automatic 1997 Toyota Corolla. It has about 158,000 miles on it.

When I shift out of Park and into Reverse it hesitates before getting into gear. Sometimes for as much as a few seconds. And when it does finally slip into gear it does so sort of roughly. Also, when I shift out of Reverse and into Drive it will sometimes do the same thing. This doesn't happen all the time and not even every time I drive it - but it has been happening more and more often.

I am totally clueless when it comes to cars and I'd appreciate your advice on how to not get ripped off at the mechanics and what the problem might be. Please let me know should you need further information.

Thanks so much for your time!

#2 fishexpo101

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 05:35 PM

When was the last time you have the transaxle fluid (automatic transmission fluid) checked and replaced? This on a 3-speed auto or 4-speed automatic (easy way to tell, if you have an overdrive button, it is a 4-speed auto)? First thing I'd check is the fluid level - make sure it is correct. Secondly, note any burnt odor or excessive darkening of the fluid. Fluid should have a slight oily odor with a bright red color. It helps to drip a few drops on a white paper towel to get an idea of color and any excessive contamination.

Same goes with the coolant - when was the last time it was drained and refilled? What does the temperature gauge read during driving? The two systems are tied together, if the coolant temperature is too low or reads low, the transaxle will "think" the engine is not warmed up and will shift differently.

#3 SpainWeldsCrap

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 11:43 AM

When was the last time you have the transaxle fluid (automatic transmission fluid) checked and replaced? This on a 3-speed auto or 4-speed automatic (easy way to tell, if you have an overdrive button, it is a 4-speed auto)? First thing I'd check is the fluid level - make sure it is correct. Secondly, note any burnt odor or excessive darkening of the fluid. Fluid should have a slight oily odor with a bright red color. It helps to drip a few drops on a white paper towel to get an idea of color and any excessive contamination.

Same goes with the coolant - when was the last time it was drained and refilled? What does the temperature gauge read during driving? The two systems are tied together, if the coolant temperature is too low or reads low, the transaxle will "think" the engine is not warmed up and will shift differently.


Thank you so much for your reply. I am thinking that the AT fluid needs to be replaced because I got to looking through my maintenance records and it's been awhile. It's a 3-speed automatic.
Thanks again - I appreciate it.

#4 fishexpo101

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 12:56 PM

Generally recommended to have a drain and refill at least every 30K miles - definitely no more than 60K miles on these cars.

The 3-speed transaxles are unique in that the differential does not share the same reservoir as the rest of the transaxle. It has it own drain and fill ports - the transaxle portion has its own pan / drain plug/ and dipstick tube.

I'd also recommend NOT to get it flushed. If it has been that long, multiple drains and refills will do a less "aggressive" fluid exchange job for about the price of a transaxle flush. Plus the flush will not help the differential portion of your transaxle system - in fact, many shops completely forget about the differential, as most transaxle/differential now are all commonly fluid connected.

Should take roughly 4 quarts of ATF fluid (Dexron II/III or equivalent) - 2.5 quarts for the transaxle, 1.5 quarts for the differential. Also recommend to remove the transaxle pan, after draining, to clean off the magnets on the bottom of the pan and to change the ATF filter. Filter and gasket kits are fairly inexpensive, even at dealership prices, usually runs less than $40-$50.

Personally, I like to do a pan drop and filter clean/exchange every 60K miles to ensure good transaxle life. Also plan routine drains and refills at 30K mile intervals. At those short intervals, you'd likely catch issues before they progress too far along to require transaxle rebuild / replacement.

If the fluid exchange doesn't help with the shifting quality - you'll have to start looking at other possibilities. Bad sensors, damaged transaxle, may need a tune-up, etc.

#5 dshadle1

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:31 PM

The 3-speed transaxles are unique in that the differential does not share the same reservoir as the rest of the transaxle. It has it own drain and fill ports - the transaxle portion has its own pan / drain plug/ and dipstick tube.

I'd also recommend NOT to get it flushed. If it has been that long, multiple drains and refills will do a less "aggressive" fluid exchange job for about the price of a transaxle flush. Plus the flush will not help the differential portion of your transaxle system - in fact, many shops completely forget about the differential, as most transaxle/differential now are all commonly fluid connected.


Fish, do you happen have torque values for the differential drain and fill plugs for the 3-speed auto (2001)? They aren't in Haynes, which is what I normally use on this car.

#6 SpainWeldsCrap

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 01:33 PM

Generally recommended to have a drain and refill at least every 30K miles - definitely no more than 60K miles on these cars.

The 3-speed transaxles are unique in that the differential does not share the same reservoir as the rest of the transaxle. It has it own drain and fill ports - the transaxle portion has its own pan / drain plug/ and dipstick tube.

I'd also recommend NOT to get it flushed. If it has been that long, multiple drains and refills will do a less "aggressive" fluid exchange job for about the price of a transaxle flush. Plus the flush will not help the differential portion of your transaxle system - in fact, many shops completely forget about the differential, as most transaxle/differential now are all commonly fluid connected.

Should take roughly 4 quarts of ATF fluid (Dexron II/III or equivalent) - 2.5 quarts for the transaxle, 1.5 quarts for the differential. Also recommend to remove the transaxle pan, after draining, to clean off the magnets on the bottom of the pan and to change the ATF filter. Filter and gasket kits are fairly inexpensive, even at dealership prices, usually runs less than $40-$50.

Personally, I like to do a pan drop and filter clean/exchange every 60K miles to ensure good transaxle life. Also plan routine drains and refills at 30K mile intervals. At those short intervals, you'd likely catch issues before they progress too far along to require transaxle rebuild / replacement.

If the fluid exchange doesn't help with the shifting quality - you'll have to start looking at other possibilities. Bad sensors, damaged transaxle, may need a tune-up, etc.


This is very helpful information. Thank you.
Unfortunately this isn't something I feel comfortable doing on my own so I'll have to have a shop do it. Since you mentioned specifically not to have it flushed, what service should I ask for to make sure I am getting the right thing? Sorry to be so ignorant when it comes to this stuff. I just want to make sure that I ask for the proper service so they don't make assumptions and do the wrong thing. Am I just asking them for a fluid exchange for the transaxle/differential?
Thank you again for all you help!

#7 fishexpo101

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 02:13 PM

That is correct. Just ask for a drain and refill, see if they will do a pan drop and filter change as well. Unfortunately, lots of shops don't like this method because it is much more labor intensive. They see more profit in running a machine to "flush" the transaxle.

#8 SpainWeldsCrap

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 02:36 PM

That is correct. Just ask for a drain and refill, see if they will do a pan drop and filter change as well. Unfortunately, lots of shops don't like this method because it is much more labor intensive. They see more profit in running a machine to "flush" the transaxle.


Thank you Fish! I'll call around and see what I can come up with. I really appreciate your speedy and helpful responses.