Transmisssion shifts slow when going from 1st to 2nd gear.
This happens when accelerating or decelerating, especially when under a strain or when engine is cold. If not under a strain or cold, shifting seems fine , Other gears don't seem to be affected.This causes car to shift hard.
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Is your problem a grinding of gears? If so, sounds like synchronizers in the transmission going bad.
As for the coolant on the passenger side floorboard, hate to say it, but classic tell-tale sign of a bad heater core.
i had the same thing...It's the transmission. It's REALLY noticeable shifting from 1st to 2nd gear. I was able to get my transmission fixed for 900 bux. That wasn't even a replacement so i can imagine how much it would cost to get it replaced. The shifting will get worse. By the end of my "experience" it wouldn't shift from 1st to 2nd for about 5 minutes until i drove it around for a bit. THen it would "warm up" to the idea of shifting to 2nd gear.
It's hard to understand when you say it feels like a manual shift. Noise? Feel? I do know that the 87 auto trans does have a weak 1st to 2nd shift drum (as explained to me by my mechanic) that makes a grinding, elongated shift under heavy acceleration when it starts to wear. Under normal acceleration, 1st to 2nd shifts were normal (crisp, immediate). Since that day 8 years ago, I've avoided starting off to quickly, and so far have saved myself a tranny overhaul.