1996 Dodge Stratus transmission stuck in limp drive mode.
October 10, 2009 2:32 AM   Subscribe

1996 Dodge Stratus transmission stuck in limp drive mode.

My girlfriend bought this piece of junk and has been nothing but problems. On a recent trip a wreck less driver stopped abruptly in the middle of a 7 lane highway and forced me to stop and quickly accelerate to switch lanes to not die. Shortly after i was unable to go faster than 38-40 mph without red lining. The engine persisted to overheat but we eventually got it home. I changed the transmission filter and replaced the current fluid with ATF +4 as suggested by the web site. This didn't fix anything and after extensive research i am almost certain it is stuck in limp drive mode. Supposedly the transmission was rebuilt less than a year ago but two mechanics also gave us the go ahead on this death trap. The engine is a V-6 and I believe it has a 41TE automatic transmission. I need to fix this!
posted by isopropyl to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total)
Best answer: Check out allpar.com for good info. Despite the complaining you see on the internets, that's a good transmission when properly cared for. And that's supposed to be a good car- won all kinds of awards.

Limp home mode usually means the transmission is not getting the information it needs to be able to decide when to shift, and just locks itself down in second gear. It can also mean that it isn't getting feedback from itself as to whether shifts have been made. For example, it sends the "shift into third" signal and waits for some sensor to register that the shift was made. If it doesn't get that info, it freaks out. Your best bet is to take it to the dealer or a reputable transmission shop and get the transmission codes read.

The chances are actually good that it's probably just a bad or unplugged sensor/solenoid.

(Autozone reads codes for free, but I'm almost positive their machines can't access the transmission codes. But it might be worth a shot.)

(Also worth a shot is unplugging the battery or disconnecting the fuse for the trans computer for 20 minutes or so to clear the error and see if it clears up.)
posted by gjc at 5:19 AM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm not convinced that this a limp mode. A limp mode will generally prevent you from red-lining the engine, since it's designed to preserve what function your car has without causing further damage. No limp mode should let you overheat the engine.
But, whatever the case, you'll probably only be able to determine what's wrong by retrieving the fault codes from the TCM.

Do you have a gear selector that has selections like 2 3 and D? Does the transmission shift correctly when you do it manually?

Unfortunately, I agree that you'll have to take it into a shop that has the tools to diagnose your transmission. This might not be a DIY kind of project.
posted by Jon-o at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2009

This is a long shot but sometimes low motor oil level can screw with your vacuum levels and affect your sensors. At least it is the easiest thing to check.
posted by Iron Rat at 9:40 AM on October 10, 2009

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