Edmunds Answers

Voted Best Answer

  • avatar karjunkie 11/15/08 11:35 am PST

    I assume you checked the fluid level and color already as that’s the first thing to check. It should be clear cherry red in color and at the right level with the engine warm, running and in park.I suspect you have either a clogged valve problem or a sticking 1st gear clutch pack. If so, you should first do the simplest and easiest thing and run some Seafoam Trans Tune in the tranny for a few days and then flush the old ATF fluid and replace the fluid and filter. The Seafoam will clean out the varnish or gunk that may be causing the valve or clutch pack to stick. Try replacing the old ATF with a compatible synthetic ATF fluid like Mobil1 or Redline as they are a bit slippery than the regular ATF Fluid and will further help clean deposits out. Remember that just like oil changes, the transmission fluid should be changed every 30K miles or every 2 years, whichever comes first! Good luck!

Answers

  • karjunkie 11/15/08 11:35 am PST

    I assume you checked the fluid level and color already as that’s the first thing to check. It should be clear cherry red in color and at the right level with the engine warm, running and in park.I suspect you have either a clogged valve problem or a sticking 1st gear clutch pack. If so, you should first do the simplest and easiest thing and run some Seafoam Trans Tune in the tranny for a few days and then flush the old ATF fluid and replace the fluid and filter. The Seafoam will clean out the varnish or gunk that may be causing the valve or clutch pack to stick. Try replacing the old ATF with a compatible synthetic ATF fluid like Mobil1 or Redline as they are a bit slippery than the regular ATF Fluid and will further help clean deposits out. Remember that just like oil changes, the transmission fluid should be changed every 30K miles or every 2 years, whichever comes first! Good luck!

  • yeorgos 04/28/09 1:02 am PST

    I have the same problem, but am too lazy to do the repair. Likely your fluid is not cherry red, and may smell burnt. That means one or more clutch packs are burnt a bit, and that is a nasty repair. Luckly there are things you can do to still have a functioning tranny.

    Change out the fluid in the bottom of the pan and the tranny filter, and do it regularly. ALWAYS USE ATF +3 or 4 (go with three if you can find it). NEVER EVER use dextron. Dextron has different shear characteristics and will burn/ruin your tranny. There are also habits that can make for a longer lasting first reverse clutch pack.

    Transmission fluid is 0w20 for atf 3 I believe. When your transmission is cold, the fluid is more slippery ie the 0. Once it warms up, it becomes more grabby ie the 20. Let it warm up in park when it isn't too cold. Sadly, when in park, only some of the tranny fluid is being warmed. If you are able to drive for a bit and then it slips out of gear due to too much gas or trying to switch to second, you may want to warm it up in neutral with the parking brake on. This will take longer, but it warms up the fluid evenly. Find what works for you. I am in Canada, so the block heater is indispensable when it gets to minus 25 and below.

    You may also try to park so that you don't switch gears from reverse to forward, and so that you are not going up a hill if you can avoid it. The gear switching exposes the clutch packs to fluid and makes it slippery. The hill means more torque and usually leads to slipping.

    My van is 1996 3.8L Caravan
    356000km <---- hard to justify taking out the tranny to replace the clutchpacks, especially since it drives well once warmed up.
    Have a nice spring.

ADVERTISEMENT

Top Transmission Automatic Experts View More

Rank Leader Points
1. karjunkie 5315
2. MrShift@Edmunds 3790
3. zaken1 1235
4. fordfan_17 830
5. snowball2 670
6. tony78 520
7. texases 475
ADVERTISEMENT