Automatic transmissions perform all of the tasks normally done by the driver in a car with a manual transmission. They shift up and down as needed, return the engine to neutral when at rest, and clutch through each step along the way. Modern cars have computerised transmissions which improve performance but also make the potential for problems that much greater. If your transmission will not shift into second gear there are a few things you can try.
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Check your transmission fluid levels first. Many times low fluid levels can adversely affect automatic transmission function and result in all kinds of performance issues, including the inability to shift into second gear. If your levels are good, move to the next step.
Reset your computer system. Resetting your car's on-board computer system can sometimes fix a programming issue and return your transmission to working order. Disconnect the battery completely and leave it off for 30 minutes. Reconnect the battery and allow the car five minutes to reset. Test the car by driving through the gears.
Bring your car to a licensed mechanic for a computer diagnostics test. If your car is a late-model vehicle with a computerised transmission, your best course of action may be to have a diagnostics test done at your local service station. The computer may have to be reset to return transmission performance to normal. The problem may not be mechanical at all.
Adjust or replace your throttle cables. If your car is not computerised, the problem may lie with a faulty throttle cable preventing timely shifting or any shifting at all. If your car has vacuum modulators instead of throttle cables, an adjustment could also help the situation.
Have a transmission diagnostic test done at your local transmission specialist. If all else fails bring it to the experts. Your problem may be a gear issue or a throttle body failure which will both have to be taken care of by a professional.
Tips and warnings
- Do not make quick gear changes from reverse to drive or vice versa when leaving parking spaces or making U-turns. Taking your time will save wear and tear on your transmission.
- Always pay attention to little signs from your transmission. Have your transmission checked if you experience jerky shifting, hear noises, find a puddle under the car or notice any changes at all. Doing so will not cost anything and may save you big time in the long run.
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