What are the possible causes of my intermitant transmision malfunction?

Asked by Dec 12, 2014 at 09:28 PM about the 2002 Toyota Highlander Base V6

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

When I start off the first time it goes through all the gears and runs fine.  When I stop it runs fine up to 3rd and then gets stuck in 3rd even if I let off the accelerator.  When the car stops again it goes back to 1st but stop shifting up after 3rd.

6 Answers

Oh yeah and the vehicle has 215k on it too. Someone told me it's the knock sensor.


A car like that can have its codes read. A car like that can have an electronic governor and shift solenoids, a computer, and sensors, since it is hi miles for warranty. The diagnostic steps are going to save you time and money. You can look them up and try or trust a trans specialist. even toyota them selves because of the experience factor.

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Unusual and hard to fathom problems like this tend to generate TSB bulletins and advise technicians of the successful repair that is allowed under warranty. When miles start to get higher, techs will recommend an overhaul, or trans in a box, based on the parts and rebuild vs. the price of a preupdated part. see what they say i expect that would be the end of it.

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Your probably right. I am gonna try a transmission shop to see what they say. My guess is its something simple as the person who owned the vehicle before me was very meticulous with the up keep, with the exception of one thing. When I got the car the fluids were over filled. I am gonna try seeing if it makes sense to have the fluids changed and the tranny filter replaced first. Its just weird that it works fine on the first acceleration and not after that. These new cars are crazy. I miss carburetors and engine compartments you could almost jump inside to work on them.


You are describing a part reacting to temperature, of course. That could be several things, it can be electronic, hydraulic or mechanical. Since toyotas have their own set if quirks and issues and always have, you would need a very experienced trans specialist. No shop I worked at ever messed with toyoglide or the others that came after. It was not till OBDII that they had a hope to find a sensor at fault, or solenoid, or electronic governor. The speed sensors in the car can wreak havoc too. If you understood each type of device and took radings, you could see something that looks wrong and pick on that, but it is a losing battle financially for any trans man without a database of trans info and TSB's. They pay dearly every year for updates and are always at least a year behind. Your dealer would be expected to meet your needs. They would be experienced at it. With hi miles, they may have a way to guarantee it that involves an updated unit, or they may have test equipment that simplifies. All the foreign ones I have read about, and found the necessary info, the customer always backs out and stops the work before you get to fix one. They go talk to other people and get advised to run. There's no way to know where those people get their info, I think it is inexperience coupled with bad experience. If you had a price you did not want to pay to fix yours when the diagnosis and pinpoint tests are completed, and the manufacturer and the dealer wont participate, I do know a trans company that has the most data and experience I have ever encountered. I could take your info and call for advice if you truly find you need it. There is always the possibility of comparing to a known good one, and buying used to get it solved.


They know what is getting reported and buy up the parts that are going to be needed, speculating that in time those cars will still be on the road and break down. They once helped me with an unusual part, noone anywhere could get one, The car would start and then not restart. she had a little one and was by herself in the big world. The car also idled at 2300 rpm. if that youngster had grabbed the shifter it would have been all over for her car and some building. I called that shop and guess what, they had 2 of them. A torque converter with a welded flexplate. And they did not put a surcharge on it. Then I asked a honda service manager to put it in on a weekend, and he fixed her air density sensor at the same time. There was a true need and noone else could or would, but those guys did.

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