2003 - transmission slams into drive. AC stops working when still and overheats - fan doesn't move. Now transmission problem.

Asked by Jul 25, 2016 at 07:59 PM about the 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier Sedan FWD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Here is the background information of this vehicle.
AC has worked forever, fine every time.
I noticed just recently that I need to keep moving for the AC to blow out
cold air. If I would sit in traffic for a minute, it will start to get hot and the car
temp will go over half...
If I turn AC off, the temp. returns to normal (a bit below half).

Recently it's been acting weird... I had the AC on and the car seems to idle
very roughly. If I am driving, I can feel a very slight 'pull' every second AS IF
I was turning the AC OFF and back ON again... (you know...that 'pull' and
extra 'power' you get by turning the AC OFF.)
The AC was on the entire time.
So I turned the AC OFF and it stopped doing this. Now it's just very subtle.
Once I had the AC ON at a light and it shifted very terribly. This happened
back in November once and never again. Now it's happening recently (last

This morning, car ran beautifully. I turned the AC ON and it takes about 15
minutes to start being sluggish again. I turned it off and went home.
I looked it up and determined that the front condenser fan needs to be ON
when the AC is on... and it isn't... hence why I am overheating and my AC
stops working when I'm not moving.

I went to go for a drive and once I shift it into reverse, I hear a BANG! The
same for drive.
This is NOT the parking gear because I always put the emergency brake
on before putting it into PARK so that I don't rest the car on the parking

I let it sit for two hours and the same thing is happening.
This has not happened since November.
Does this have anything to do with the condenser fan?
The fan doesn't turn on - I suspect that's the issue with the AC and
IDLE is fine.
Only when I'm driving with the AC ON does the RPM fluctuate when I'm
driving. It will go up to 2650 and then back down 2500. Then back up, etc.
Today, it did it with the AC OFF (after turning it OFF) but very subtle. You
can feel it very lightly.

So it's just strange that all of this is happening at once.
To learn about that fan cleared my problems... until I find out it's shifting
into PARK very bang-like.

Hopefully someone can figure it out and say something like - 'well this part
right here controls the fan and also tells the transmission when to shift'.
Then I'll be excited like when I figured out that the fan doesn't turn on and
why that's causing AC to stop and overheating.

8 Answers

I tried again and it's getting the same result. I scanned the codes and it found no logged fault code but it DID find a pending fault code. P0113. Intake Air Temperature Circuit High Input. The RPM started at about 1200 and then went down to over 500.

I was going to have a car maintenance day, but had plans so I couldn't... But tomorrow I think I'm going to run seafoam in the oil, go to Advance Auto pick up transmission fluid, filter, and gasket -- engine oil and filter -- and change the engine oil and transmission fluid, clean the MAF with my spray, and inspect everything else. I am still wanting answers if there is anything else I should look into and clean.


Not sure what kind of scanner tool you are using but u can prompt your fans through some check all fuses relays and connectors to cooling fans before you replace also sounds like you might be low on freon as far as the hard shift goes I'd check fluid levels at operating temps possibly a shift solenoid but can't say for certain and your iac could play a part in the rpms check the voltage it calls for running and not if that checks I'd clean the throttle body I suggest removing the tps and iac and giving those a good cleaning as well while you have the throttle body off .. As far as fan contributing to hard shift well that'd be a new one for me lol sorry but no such luck there

I mean, I know it won't be the fan causing the issue directly. I just thought there would be a specific part that plays it's own part in the fan, AC, and shifting. Also, I noticed whenever I turn the heat dial to circulate, AC lights up too and it appears that AC turns on because I can hear it. It has always been like this. This was my Gram's car (she passed in Nov. and I hit a deer days after) and she always said "Why do you always turn the AC ON?" I always said I don't, it comes on whenever we turn the dial to circulate. -- I checked the relay. Swapped it from heater/blower and the heater and blower still works but no fan movement. I'm not a Cavalier mechanic. I had when for a few months when I was 17, but then went to Mitsubishi. So I'm not familiar with this.

The only thing I changed was turning the heat selection mode to face so that the AC light doesn't turn on. Car started fine, shifted fine, etc. It shifts into second gear beautifully. I probably put it into 'drive' about 10 times without an issue. It always had a 'bang' when putting it into drive, but very subtle and not much of a notice. Anyhow -- I am still wanting ideas on what else to check.


Well nothing for the fans or ac is relevant to transmission issues the issues are separate and don't correspond with the problems each have ... My suggestion fix the ac/fan issue and then see how it acts shifting and go from there

Oh yeah I can tell you that this can be an IAT issue, I just fixed the same on my car. A rat chewed the IAT wires off, and it was showing NO PC current and a IAT temp of -40F. Set the P0113. Fixed the wires and reset the code and PC current went to .9 in park, .7 driving.

I can't edit, but before I fixed it AND cleared the code my transmission was also banging into gear. The lower your PC current is the higher the line pressure is in your transmission. Don't drive long like this or you will tear it up.

Your Answer


Looking for a Used Cavalier in your area?

CarGurus has 585 nationwide Cavalier listings starting at $1,995.


Chevrolet Cavalier Experts

  • #1
    John Saffrahn
  • #2
  • #3
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Chevrolet Malibu
457 Great Deals out of 50,444 listings starting at $2,111
Used Chevrolet Impala
392 Great Deals out of 25,755 listings starting at $900
Used Chevrolet Camaro
240 Great Deals out of 28,859 listings starting at $1,800
Used Honda Civic
352 Great Deals out of 52,819 listings starting at $1,200
Used Ford Focus
413 Great Deals out of 78,587 listings starting at $1,195
Used Toyota Corolla
578 Great Deals out of 68,082 listings starting at $1,495
Used Honda Accord
447 Great Deals out of 102,829 listings starting at $800
Used Toyota Camry
764 Great Deals out of 71,935 listings starting at $1,200
Used Ford Mustang
249 Great Deals out of 36,971 listings starting at $2,500
Used Chevrolet Corvette
106 Great Deals out of 15,291 listings starting at $3,900
Used Chevrolet S-10
8 Great Deals out of 954 listings starting at $950

Content submitted by Users is not endorsed by CarGurus, does not express the opinions of CarGurus, and should not be considered reviewed, screened, or approved by CarGurus. Please refer to CarGurus Terms of Use.