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Depends if you have a regular 3 speed automatic, or a 3 speed with overdrive. Put it in drive, it will start out in first gear, then shift into second at about 15 MPH, into third at about 30-35 MPH. With overdrive, fourth gear will kick in at about 45-55MPH.
Kinda sounds like it works when fluid is thick and not after it warms up. If it has been awhile since trans fluid and filter were changed it is the most simple thing to change. The torque converter is a big pump, it may be going and not providing enough pressure. This could be checked on most transmissions by a shop expert. Sometimes pressure can be adjusted externally.
when you step on the gas to the floor the trans is not trying to shift into overdrive, over drive connects as you are at a steady speed which lowers rpm and increase fuel mpg. when you step on the gas hard you are telling the trans to down shift to a passing gear,which calls for more fuel and air which is what you are not getting. A few things could cause this, bad crank sensor,ecm, fuel pump, fuel filter,knock sensor etc. I would get a full blown diagnostic done which will check fuel press,timing,sensors,codes,etc normally around $100.00 . But have this done at a very reputable shop and be there when they do it so they can explain everything to you, and make sure you understand things before somebody starts saying well it could be this and now i think its this or that.
It will shift out of overdrive upon increasing throttle , pulling hills and so on. Your overdrive probably kicks in around 35 to 45mph and kicks back out as you increase throttle. Electrically controled speed sensor to control the response. Overwise the engine would bog down to a stall. Over drive is just that. It changes the gearing ratio to over drive meaning less then final gear 4 to 1 down to 4 to 3 etc more direct drive ratio to lessen consumtion of fuel with less stress on engine. Have shift speed sensor adjusted. Don't drive in overdrive in city if most driving is under 45mph
I had an 89 Suburban that started doing the same thing. Change the fluid/filter and add a quart of Lucas Transmission Fix. See how that does. Ultimately, you are going to have to rebuild or replace the transmission as the problem will only get worse in the end. Mine finally went down completely and cost me about $2700 to rebuild.
I'm a big chevy fan and the reason it wont shift is because of the big tires.What happens when you put big tires on it and still have the same gear ratio the tires slow down the speed alot.There for making the trans seem its still going slower.The only real adjustments you can do here are first adjust the kick down cable if it has one,Next would be change the gear ratio to compinsate for the big tires.But if you have the elctronic trans theres really nothing you can do to adjust the kick down.But if it does this cable controls how the truck shifts on where the gas pedal is.To adjust the kick down cable you need to look at the cables that go up to the throttle likage.the cable thats on the bottom is the one you need.Next behind the bracket that holds the cable is a metal tab its actually in the cable.Push that tab in and the center part of the cable which looks like a con push that all the way in release the tab.Next jump in the truck and press the gas pedal to the floor now its adjusted.Thats all you can do..Hope this helps you and have a great day..