My RV's tranmission will not engage. We had just moved it and then a cold front moved in (11 degrees) and the next day

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Customer: My RV's tranmission will not engage. We had just moved it and then a cold front moved in (11 degrees) and the next day the transmission would not engage. It is now 40 degrees and it still won't engage. The coach is a 1998 Fleetwood Southwind 35P with a Ford chassis. The transmission has a parking brake that appears to be operational, but I can't be certain that it is releasing. The fluid appears to be at the right level although when I topped it off with warm fluid the day it stopped it did move about 6 ft. I did note squealing when it moved, sounded like the brakes. Prior to moving it the first time it had been setting up for several months, although the engine was run monthly. Any insight/information regarding what could prevent the transmission from engaging would be appreciated.
Answered by Rvman in 1 hour 14 years ago
13+ years of experience

8 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Auto Body Technician, Heavy Equipment Repairs, Heavy Duty Engine Repairs, Brake and Transmission Repairs



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I am Rvman and I will try and help you with your problem. Let me start by getting a little more info from you.


How long had you let the engine run prior to trying to move the camper?


The first time we let it run only a couple of minutes, but since then we have tried it after running for extended periods. The housing of the transmission is warm..


Also, I have since placed the vehicle in neutral and allowed it to roll. no indication that the brakes are locked up.


I have also pulled the fuses and checked and replaced a couple just in case. the other accessories on the same circuit as the transmission control are working. I couldn't verify the relays, but didn't see any that were linked in their description to the transmission.



Pull the transmission dip stick under the hood and look at th fluid, give me a discription of the color and the smell, feel the fluid for any debris (metal) and check the level of the fluid. Checking the level should be done at operating temp so let it run for about 20-30 mins or until your temp guage reads at or above 150deg.

Transmission fluid is clean and doesn't smell burnt. color is reddish with no particulates. level is at the top of the Hot level because I added a small amount when it didn't work the first time. Engine has been running for over a half hour.
Do you have a column shifter or is it dash mounted?
Column shifter. I checked the linkage and it is moving as I shift with the right detents. The parking lock also engages until I step on the brake.

If it is going into Neutral then the linkage should be good. Do you see any fluid on the ground under the camper. I am thinking it might be the torque converter.


no fluid

what about the switch on the side of the transmission where the linkage goes in. Would that preclude it from engaging?

Yes. However it has to go into reverse before it can go into Neutral will it move in reverse? Have you put it in 1st gear and tried it?
Shift moves like it is supposed to into all gears. All drive gears no response. I did note that the engine idles down about a hundred rpms when a drive gear is engaged and returns to idle at neutral and park.
I am not sure how deep you want to get into it yourself but my next step would be to drop the drain pan and do a visual inspectionand change the fluid and filter. How many miles on the trans?
Just over 50K. Fluid was changed at the dealer when I bought it used at about 35K. I will do the oil and filter change. What should I look for?
Most transmissions have a doughnut shaped magnet loose in the drain pan look at how much metal shavings are on the magnet. Look for any loose parts anything that might have come apart. it will fall into the pan. Be sure to strain the oil as you drain it don't just drain it to a bucket and dump there might be info in there. It might be the fluid pump. Do you still have the bottle the Trans fluid came in that you put in the transmission? Using a transmission fluid that indicates a dual usage MERCON and MERCON V in a transmission application requiring MERCON, may cause internal transmission damage. The use of any fluid other than the recommended fluid may cause transmission damage. Some fluid labels may indicate dual usage such as MERCON and MERCON V. These dual-usage fluids are not to be used in transmissions that use only the MERCON type fluid. These dual-usage fluids may be used in transmissions that require MERCON V use.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX straight mercon fluid. no v indicated on the bottle or the dipstick. How do I reach you tomorrow after I change the oil and filter and do the inspection? Should I accept the answer now or just use the reply button?
If I have been a help hit the Accept button for my effort and please leave feedback. Bonus are welcome. You can leave this question open for 24 hours
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX been helpful.
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8 satisfied customers
13+ years of experience
13+ years of experience

8 satisfied customers



Licensed mechanics

31,131 satisfied customers

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