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Automatic Transmission Problems

One of the more common problems encountered with automatic transmissions is a delayed engagement. 

What is Delayed Engagement?

This is when there is a long delay from the moment you make a gear selection (D or R) to the moment you feel the transmission engage. This can occur when the vehicle is only cold, only when hot or at any time.

When the vehicle has reached normal operating temperature, the transmission should almost engage immediately. It will feel like the vehicle wants to creep forward. As long as you have your foot firmly on the brake pedal, it should be a smooth engagement, without feeling like a strong jerk or clunk. Either of these situations indicates there may be more concerns.

If there is a long notable delay, approx. 1.5 to 2 seconds, from the time you make your selection to the moment the transmission engages, this indicated a problem with the transmission. It could be as simple as low fluid to more serious internal concerns.


One thing that you as an owner can do, prior to bring your vehicle to Mister Transmission is to check the fluid level. Consult your owner’s manual for correct filling and checking procedure as this varies with different manufactures. Unfortunately there as some models that do not provide a means for you to check the level. In this situation, it is best to contact your local Mister Transmission and seek expert advice.

If you are able to check your fluid level, remember it is very important to use the correct fluid type. The wrong fluid can lead to problems with shifting, torque converter clutch application, or ultimately cause transmission failure. Again, consult your owner’s manual for the correct fluid type. One key point to remember, if your fluid level is low, you will likely have a leak somewhere.

Many transmission problems are not always a direct result of an internal problem. This is evident more so in today’s modern computer controlled transmissions.

Today’s vehicles are a wealth of computer technology. There can be a single computer or many computers used in your vehicle. These computers use inputs from many sensors located through out the vehicle. The computer uses this information to be able to properly operate your transmission. Something as simple as a speed sensor failure (approx. $50.00 to $200.00 to repair) can lead you to believe you’ve suffered major transmission failure.

Throttle Position Sensor

A throttle position sensor is located in the engine compartment and it can also affect proper transmission operation. Today’s modern vehicles have so much more technology that was used to put man on the moon. As you have just learned, today’s transmissions are very complex and complicated components that require expert service.


If you suspect you have a problem with your transmission, call your local Mister Transmission and book an appointment for our FREE 21-Point Multi-Check Inspection.