I can has 1st geer? Corolla transmission only downshifting to 2nd gear!
May 20, 2008 3:45 PM   Subscribe

My '93 Corolla (AT) isn't shifting into 1st gear. What's the likelyhood that this is a simple or very expensive repair?

It's happened a few times over the last few years, but hasn't persisted as a problem after parking and starting up or shifting into reverse/back to drive. Today, both to and from work the problem persisted. Shifting into reverse results in a thump while the car jerks a bit, but only once did 1st gear come back (it refused to go into 1st shortly after). The O/D light blinks, which I'm sure might tell me more, but I don't have an owner's manual. Shifting into "2" or "L" doesn't seem to help, but I really have no idea if that's likely to force it into 1st. Once the car is going 15-20 mph, everything is fine. So I'm only having to give extra gas when starting up from stop, a pain when turning or going up a hill.

I'm going to take it into the shop on the weekend if the problem persists, but I'd love to know in the meantime if there might be a simple fix (busted sensor, low fluids?) or how much a repair might cost if the transmission needs real work. Can anyone tell what's going on?
posted by cowbellemoo to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
It could well be low fluid - check that first. Check a Haynes manual for it if you don't have a manual and don't top anything up unless you are SURE you are in the right place and have the right fluid!

However, that is pretty much all you can do. Any internal fix will be expensive...
posted by Brockles at 3:49 PM on May 20, 2008

The flashing "overdrive off" light is a self-diagnostic. I'm guessing, since it's transmission related, that it's a bad sensor, such as the throttle position sensor or the speed sensor. These kinds of things should be fairly easy to fix, but could still cost a couple hundred in parts and labor.

You might get more specific help at a Toyota forum like Toyota Nation. On a car of your generation, you can usually read the diagnostic codes by shorting a couple pins on the diagnostic port with a paperclip. Then if you can find the diagnostic code list for your car, you can find out exactly which error it detected, and find out how much the fix might cost. Or, if you take the car to a competent mechanic, they should be able to tell you fairly quickly what the exact problem is.
posted by knave at 4:55 PM on May 20, 2008

I'd bet about, ohhh, $1,200 you are about to replace your transmission.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:48 PM on May 20, 2008


Thanks all.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:07 AM on May 21, 2008

New tranny after all. ~$1,200. M.C. Lo-Carb! for the win loss.
posted by cowbellemoo at 12:25 PM on May 27, 2008

I'm sorry cowbellemoo.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:37 PM on May 28, 2008

Ouch... sorry to hear that.
posted by knave at 8:03 PM on May 28, 2008

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