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The car runs fine after it warms up? Is it running with the check engine light off? But it does come on with the key before the engine is started? If the coolant temperture senser is bad ( or disconnected someway) the check engine light will be on but the car might run OK at normal operating tempertures. Have the car checked for codes. It's OBDI so you might have to find a service provider that can ceck the codes on this pre OBDII car. If it turly runs good at normal operating tempertures and the transmission is'nt low on fluild then the coolant senser does'nt always turn the check engine light on if it's bad and still reading something but wrong. Truly running good and the coolant is full ( all the way). chage the senser and see what happens as thier cheap and easy to change with commn hand tools.
It might not be related to the temperature but it can be due to failure of the thermister ( the temperature sensor) that is causing this erratic action.
So locate the sensor which is normally mounted on the area of the water pump .
Also check if there is any decolouration of the coolant if so flush and refill.
The check engine light is operating correctly as the computer reads a spike in temperature range in the engine. Your problem is more than likely a bad thermostat. I have seen times when a bad or loose radiator cap would cause the same symptoms. If the radiator cap has been removed recently it could be that it is just not on correctly. Make sure you check this only when your engine is cold. Hope this helps you out
If it shifts normally and then it warms up and goes backwards OK and the check enigine light works and isn't on while driving the trans has the right fluild and it's not low then the trans has bad troble. If the check engine light is on find and fix the reason Speed sensers Theres 3 leaks burnt fluild correct and see if its fixed the engine needs to run right and hit the right temperture as it runs. otherwise an expensivew rebuild is next or a used transmission.
Your right ! The coolant temperture senser is ( bent ) Lying to the computer to the real temperture of the coolant. mixture wrong and it runs bad till warmed up. Senser is cheap and easy to install. it won't code the check engine light unless it goes plumb open or shorted and doesnt happen too much. newer cars and trucks they fixed this and the newer computers conpare the air charge temperture senser, the coolant tenperture senser, the ambiant temperture senser and the interior temperture senser and it knows how long its beenoff and the newer ones still even know that time it is and gat to know its running pattern if it has one. So it tunes its self to the finest end for your pattern and remembers it. Some thing doesn't seen right and someone of these doesnt make sense it goes on its patteren and runs just fine guessing whitch sensers to believe and which to take with a grain of salt. It does it a few times too many it remembers which senser is the lyer dis regards it and turns the check engine light on uses the rest of the good sensers to run on and goes on its merry way telling you to take me to your dealer to get another car or be fixed. They hope you'll get another car so they can soak you again fixs your old one and make a ton trashing it so the government can pay them a bonus to get you in there to keep the ecomomy moving