??? why my stratus won't shift out of 1st gear


Asked by tonda2 Jul 26, 2007 at 03:59 PM about the 1999 Dodge Stratus 4 Dr STD Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

16 Answers


Are you getting any Check Engine codes? The transmission control module could be defective, or storing codes that would help diagnose this. You may also have a transmission solenoid problem, a low fluid condition, or a bad transmission. Take this vehicle to a dealer and have them diagnose it.

9 out of 9 people think this is helpful.

I had a similar issue with my 99. Wouldn't shift out of first, speedometer wouldn't work, etc. Turned out to be the interface module between the engine and tranny.

16 out of 16 people think this is helpful.

We have had this happen to two Stratuses (both maroon oddly enough). In both cases, it turned out to the output sensor on the trsansmission. The first time it cost me $125 to find that out and have it changed at Kennedy Transmission. The second time, I did it myself. The part costs $18 at NAPA and it is super easy to access and change. Just jack up the driver's side and look up at the tranny. The sensor is straight up on the side.

14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.
Brady Barrett

The tranny could be shot or something wrong with the electronics in it.


Try replacing your shift solenoid first. You can buy the part online for anywhere from $130.00-$179.00. If that doesn't do it it may be either you tranny control unit or either of the sensors. If your tachometer is working it wont be your sensors. If solenoid doesn't fix it then the next step then try the TCM (transmission control unit). That I would recommend you take to a dealer to do because after installing it, it will have to be programmed by the dealer anyway. Will cost you less than $500 for that.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.

SOLUTION SOLUTION! READ READ READ! I had this problem with my 2001 Stratus 2.4 v4 SE 4dr TWICE. The second time I forgot how I fixed it the first time. ITS THE 10A IGNITION FUSE UNDER THE HOOD IN THE FUSE BOX. Dont ask how or why but yes the fuse had blown and replacing it fixed ALL the problems with the gauges not working and not shifting out of first gear. PLEASE spread this around. It is NOT the trans input/output sensors NOT the TCM NOT any solenoids. You will waste money! Its a damn $2 fuse!

28 out of 28 people think this is helpful.

I had the same problem. The speedometer did not work, The shifter did not register and the car would not get out of first or second gear. I had a spare stratus. I replaced the two sensors. This did not work. I then changed the TCM (transmission control unit). This made the speedometer work and the car would shift but the check engine light was still on. The code was P1698. This states the sensors are not communicating. I then replaced the small bit of wiring harness that connects the two sensors, Now the car works fine. So what you could do is go to a junk yard and find the TCU and the small bit if harness and replace those.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Brandon Bissell

I am having this issue now actually. I have NOT found the solution yet, however in response to the above reply about it being a fuse, the book says it is fuse #8 which is in fact a 10 amp fuse which is linked to the speedometer. Again i have yet to find a solution or talk to a mechanic, but i DID have an oil leak this week near the rear master seal which was leaking on the flywheel. It is very possible i may have knocked the sensor on the side of the tranny loose while searching for that leak. This will be my 1st route to explore after crawling my lawnmoweresque sounding beast to the nearest auto zone to have my check engine codes read.


i got a problem with my stratus sxt automatic tranny will not shift out of lower gear 1-2 and when i shift the car from park to drive it feels like someone hit me in the rear of the car.sometimes while driving it just loses gear and when u get it back into a gear its stuck no shifting of higher gears What can i do to fix this problem????

34 out of 34 people think this is helpful.

You have to love when people call themselves mechanics because nothing on cars is mechanical and most people when they see the name Dodge or Chrysler shudder because they think the transmissions will just go bad, but nobody can explain why because they are actually built quite well, the only way to kill a Chrysler trans is neutral drive drops, running it out of fluid from the lines that develop leaks, and adding the wrong fluid to the trans when it is low, most fools buy the cheapest regular ATF you need ATF+4 it actually says +4 after the ATF on the bottle if it does not you put in the wrong stuff and screwed up bigtime, the +4 costs a minimum of 4.27 a bottle for generic brand at walmart and the +4 is for the extra additives and friction modifiers that are put in the fluid to make the Chrysler transmission engage and shift without slipping and chattering which can and will burn the clutches in the transmission if let go for long, when a Chrysler trans wont shift out of first it is a faulty speed sensor, I recomend replacing them both they are inexpensive and since they are magnetic they actract the metal shavings in the trans to it causing it to not read, metal shavings are normal with age as long as they are not huge shards, when you get the huge bump and the limp in mode as they call it where it revs high going to 40MPH it may well be a solenoid pack still not an expensive fix, make sure you get the gasket aligned right or leaks will occur, some have it above the filter in the trans not so easy to get to, also Chrysler trannys are not made for trans pan gaskets thats why they have black silicone on them, so when changing the filter throw away the gasket in the kit and use black atf clean the pan real good and use a pick the get the old silicone from the bolt holes silicone does not compress and will keep you from tightening the bolts for the trans pan all the way and cause leaks so it is important to take your time and do it right, also the best way to determine if a Chrysler automatic is bad is the have the CVIs better known as Clutch Volume Indexes checked the higher they are the more fluid it is using to engage the clutches meaning the clutches are worn Chrysler uses solenoids to control the amount of fluid and pressure needed to engage the clutches instead of bands and clutches on older Chevys and Fords so this system Chrysler uses is much better because bands need adjustment with age and wear and some bands are non adjustable and can slip you will never deal with this with a Chrysler also you can change the fluid no matter the mileage with no worry of the trans slipping or failing that has sometimes been seen with older style band and clutch type transmissions. You may find yourself adding more than 5 qts of tranny fluid after changing the fluid and filter so buy 7 at least just in case and remember check when it is at normal operating temp and while running.

11 out of 11 people think this is helpful.

on my 1999 dodge avenger it had relay for trans. to shift it stayed in low gear whole time. when I bought $10 relay on firewall on passenger side it shifted fine. I wonder if all dodges have relay to protect TCU or speed sensors.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I'm in the middle of this stratus crisis and am running out now to switch some relays around. 240 k and still hopeful. Wish me help from the universal deity who holds my shit together.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I bought a 1999 dodge status that I found out would not get out of 1st gear. I drove it home at 35 mph. Luckly I had a crashed one at home. I replaced the two speed sensors on the transmission and I switched the computer for the transmission. I think the main thing was the two sensors on the transmission. It has worked fine for the last couple of years. Good luck

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Joshua Sulwer

mine starts out fine, but at about 10 miles an hour it jumps to 3rd gear like I was hit from behind and stays there until I shut the car off and then it does it all over. The neutral light blinks the whole time after it jumps into 3rd. I just bought this and there is 7 check engine lights but the scanner only lets me see one, I've use this scanner for years and works well on other vehicles so I don't think its the scanner. Also the weirdest thing, It was missing a lot of fuses, like headlights, break lights, 2 fan big fuses and the fan relay (which the relay I can't find yet autozone gave the wrong one, it needs one shaped like a christian cross) anyways I can't find anything on the web yet about whats wrong with the vehicle. if u know please say. I'll keep this blog posted with results for future references

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

My check engine light came on and my 2003 stratus won't shift out of low gear. All of the Gage's work. Took it to a transmission shop and they looked at the fuse and messed with the wires to the transmission and the check engine light went out and it ran fine for 2 months and now I have the same problem. Any ideas?

Jerry Sauceda

I have an 06 dodge stratus and I was driving out of town when my cars transmission jumped all the way down to 1st gear traveling at 60mph needless to say this scared the crap out of my wife and myself. I actually drove it home 15miles in 1st gear. Just like you I'm surprised my granny didnt give out. So I immediately assumed it was my transmission so I started looking online for possible issues and found this awsum site. I checked all my fuses they checked out fine, next I decided next cheapest thing I could do is change out the transmission speed sensors, i found a you tube video that shows you a step by step process to the T, I spent only $40 swapping out the input and output sensors, topped off the trans fluid and cars running like a champ again. So just wanted to thank every one here for sharing and saving me hundreds of dollars of possibly getting ripped off at a transmission shop. If someone like myself can do this anyone can do this changing sensors only took me 10 min. Thanks again

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