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sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Transmissions
Satisfied Customers: 23115
Experience:  Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep master tech ASE Master and Advanced Certified, Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep Master Certified, Trans Specialist
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Chrysler PT Cruiser: My 2002 Chrysler PT cruiser shifts just

Customer Question

My 2002 Chrysler PT cruiser shifts just fine into first and second gear, but when I get to third it feels like the car just jumps into neutral, and the engine just revs until the transmission shifts back into a lower gear, now it doesn't seem to happen on the highway, more city driving. I've been reading that it could be the TCM on the car, but I don't know how to access it, nor do I know if it needs a whole new TCM or if it might just be the connection. There is no check engine light on as of yet, so I don't think its a total failure of anything. the car will still get me from A to B but I am taking the Texas Bar exam in 2 weeks and don't really want to worry about this as this test looms closer and closer.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Transmissions
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!
It sounds as if your overdrive clutch is slipping. The overdrive clutch comes on starting in third gear. Normally a geartrain issue such as a broken overdrive clutch hub is the cause of a complete loss of third gear such as you're having but the problem shouldn't be intermittent. If you do sometimes have third and fourth gear but sometimes not then the clutch is slipping for some reason.
When it should shift into third it revs high without pulling (3,4, 5,000 RPM?)?
If you let out of the throttle it will then upshift ok, third and fourth gears to apply?
Have you checked the fluid level and condition?
Does the engine light do a bulb check when the key is turned on?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
yes, the engine does a bulb check when the key is turned on.
When it goes to shift into third (usually while I'm driving in the city) its like it shifts into neutral, and all I can do is rev the engine until it shifts into a lower gear (usually first) sometimes this occurs when I'm going from 3rd to 4th gear as well, it doesn't ALWAYS happen when I'm going from 2nd to 3rd. I have not checked the fluid level, but I will, is there any indication that this could be the TCM? how are you ruling out the TCM?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
It's pretty unlikely to be the TCM. Is the trans not going into limp in?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That's the thing, because I'm not getting an engine light, I don't know if it's going into limp in mode. I just know that sometimes it won't shift into 3rd, it just feels like neutral, and sometimes it does the same thing going from 3rd to 4th, it hasn't ever happened on the highway, just when I'm traveling from red light to red light mostly
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I also checked the transmission fluid, it is light red like it should be
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
Is the fluid at the full mark with the engine idling and trans in park?
Does it smell burnt?
does the trans lock in second after it disengages?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No burnt smell, full when it's hot and idling. Yes, it's shifts into second just fine, up shifting into thirds is trouble. It has to downshift back into second to engage.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
After it disengages and then re engages does it stay in second gear until the key is shut off?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
no, it will downshift into first just fine.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
Do you have access to an actual scan tool that will do clutch tests?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I do not, I can take it to my mechanic. Unless an autozone or another auto parts store can test it.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
Autozone will usually read fault codes for free but they wouldn't actually diagnose a problem.
What I would first look at is the TPS, while the problem is happening. Sometimes TPS fluctuations can happen quicker than a scan tool an update and show it, but you can often see fluctuations in the signal. If the TPS voltage is fluctuating when this happens then it will need to be replaced.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
how exactly would I check for fluctations in the signal for the TPS while the problem is happening?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
A scan tool would be used to monitor the signal.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
and Autozone doesn't have a scan tool that I can use for free? I'm assuming I could get one on loan?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 2 years ago.
I apologize, I have two PT Cruiser questions active at the same time, the TPS material was meant for the other question. A scan tool would be needed to do clutch tests in your case. A clutch tests commands the clutches on and the throttle is opened to see if the clutches slip.
You may be able to rent a scan tool at Autozone.