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Transmission Issues When Cold


gtstcactus
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1992 Windom / ES300

When I start the car up usually first time for the day and drive off the auto transmission seems to be holding onto either 1st or 2nd gear way too long, it basically won't shift into 3rd & 4th. I don't think this is normal even if it is cold and hasn't warmed up...???

After a few minutes driving gently things seem to come right and it revs and shifts as one would expect it too.

I suspect the trans hasn't been serviced in a very long time, tho I can't find any evidence of exactly when it was last serviced.

Clearly I need to give it some new fluid and get the old stuff out... There is quite a list of things I need to do to the car, and I'm not entirely sure how to prioritise some of these issues as my budget is next to nothing, so I'll do whatever I can myself with help from the forums, youtube and anywhere else I can get help.

Is the trans not shifting into the higher gears a sign of the trans about to explode? Or is it just general wear & tear.

For the time being I was going to stick some Nulon Transmission treatment in it in hope it might do something useful. I know it would be better to get it flushed and replace ATF then put it in, but I'll just put another bottle in once I do get the old stuff out and some new ATF in. Is this Nulon Trans Treatment likely to be of any help?

I also know the trans filter should probably be replaced - it's on the list...

So do I need to just sit and let the car warm up for 5-10 minutes before driving when it's cold(petrol is so damn expensive in NZ!)

The transmission not shifting like this when cold is giving me memories of my 92 Gtst Skyline - the transmission blew on it. Before it blew it would often hold onto a gear to near the red line - however this was happening hot & cold.

The car has approx 210,000kms on it..... First what should I do that I can likely do myself (I'm no mechanic but don't mind giving stuff a go).

Secondly regarding getting the trans flushed and fluid replaced, should I go for the option at a shop where they use a machine to remove every drop of the old stuff, or should I go for the drain a bit, add a bit approach over a couple of weeks??? (read somewhere about nightmare results after giving older auto trannys a full flush and replacement)

3rd I read somewhere about installing an external magnetic filter for the transmission - I presume these were not factory fitted - good idea? but probably not a fix for whatever the issue is...

Aside from replacing the transmission and getting a new car which are not options at the moment does anyone have any helpful suggestions for me?

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gtstcactus,

Man, you are shooting yourself in the foot when you start throwing dollars at an issue, without having a GOOD diagnosis done first.

Don't put any "miracle" additive in the tranny unless it is a Lexus/Toyota product that they recommend.

As for hot or cold, if the tranny fluid is down, it may take a little driving for the pump to get fluid to all of its valves, before it shifts correctly. Then again, maybe the previous owner beat the cr*p out of the car, and its on its way out. Hopefully not.

Start by seeing if you have the correct amount of ATF in the tranny. Drive the car until it comes up to normal temperature, pop the hood and read the tranny dipstick while the car idles. If its down, only put in Lexus/Toyota recommended fluids until full. Ford ATF will not work in a Toyota tranny, etc. Drive the car and see what that does for you. Maybe that's the fix. If its not, see a qualified mechanic who does work on Toyotas and Lexus vehicles, and find out his recommendations. Maybe a fluid flush is what is required at that point. Maybe the tranny computer needs to be reflashed because its lost part of its programming.

Forget the magnetic drainplug. Save the money for the other issues you have with this car. It sounds like you have a lot of them.

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Ok no magic additives from the Auto shop.....

Yes the car has a few issues, mainly minor stuff I think / hope. I think I read ocer at clublexus the auto trannys are designed to act in this way until the fluid reaches a certain temperature...

Basically I think everything needs servicing.... The service history is unknown. So oil & filter, auto trans should get some love be it a service or a flush or something, same goes for the radiator / coolant, suspension, air con, some electrical issues (folding mirrors, mirror adjustment)...

Do you not agree I should get the transmission serviced, flushed or something? (no magic potions from auto shop tho)

You might wonder why one would purchase such a car... Well basically I swapped a Skyline that had been garaged for the last 8 years with a blown transmission for it, so it really cost me nothing so I don't mind doing the servicing and what not that it deserves etc. However my budget is small so I need to do what I can myself........

I get the feeling everyone is getting sick of me asking so many questions. I'm sorry everyone. I do try and read up on things first but there are so many contradictory bits of information out there (even on forums like these) that I sometimes end up more confused than when I started!

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Don't apologize for the many questions, because we've all been there at one time.

As for a full tranny reflush, that's your call to make. If there are other issues that need fixing first, do them, and when the funds are available get back to the tranny flush. A qualified garage should do the power flush, as just draining the fluid and changing the filter doesn't remove all of the old stuff.

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A transmission drain and refill is all that's ever needed. If the fluid looks really awful when it's drained, consider doing another drain and refill after driving a few thousand more miles. Never flush a transmission with chemicals or add additives.

According to the maintenance booklet for my 2000 LS400 which also covers the 2000 ES300, a transmission fluid change is never required: "Only if vehicle is operated primarily while towing a trailer or using a camper or car-top carrier." Even under these special conditions, a transmission fluid service is specified only every 60,000 miles.

Regardless, if you have no maintenance history, change all fluids immediately - coolant, brake fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid.

210,000 kms is pretty low. My wife drove a 1998 Camry V6 automatic - same engine and transmission as in the 1998 ES300 - to 125,000 miles and it ran, drove and looked like new when she parted with the car last year ... but it was perfectly maintained since she bought it new.

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Yeah the fact I don't have any maintenance history is really why I want to get the old out an something new in....... It seems that additives are not looked upon favourably so I'll just replace the fluids I can do myself, and get a shop to do the transmission so it can be properly drained & flushed.

A transmission drain and refill is all that's ever needed. If the fluid looks really awful when it's drained, consider doing another drain and refill after driving a few thousand more miles. Never flush a transmission with chemicals or add additives.

According to the maintenance booklet for my 2000 LS400 which also covers the 2000 ES300, a transmission fluid change is never required: "Only if vehicle is operated primarily while towing a trailer or using a camper or car-top carrier." Even under these special conditions, a transmission fluid service is specified only every 60,000 miles.

Regardless, if you have no maintenance history, change all fluids immediately - coolant, brake fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid.

210,000 kms is pretty low. My wife drove a 1998 Camry V6 automatic - same engine and transmission as in the 1998 ES300 - to 125,000 miles and it ran, drove and looked like new when she parted with the car last year ... but it was perfectly maintained since she bought it new.

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