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91 miata automatic transmission suddenly has only 2nd gear. Like limp-in mode. What could cause this?

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  • Cars & Trucks Master
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Shift solenoids or low /thin oil
when was the automatic last serviced
the engine check light should be on to read the stored fault codes

Posted on Apr 29, 2017

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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Can a bad knock sensor cause a tranny to go stay in 2nd gear(limp mode)on a 2008 dodge ram 3.7 liter.Got 2 codes a #2 knock sensor and tcm power low voltage


The transmission is in limp-in mode because of the second DTC - TCM (transmission control module) low voltage. The knock sensor code has nothing to do with that. You need to have the TCM and transmission checked out.

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Audi a4 1.8 automatic gear not engaging 1st 2nd or 4th. only drives in 3rd


It is in "limp" mode which limits the transmission to only 3rd gear. The transmission fluid level needs to be checked and the "basic settings" need to be reset in the Transmission Control Module.

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Transmission wont shift out of second gear


There is a shift solenoid for 2nd gear that has been known to cause these kinds of problems. Apparently it cracks or breaks but is replaceable. It is also possible that your car is in "limp mode". This will automatically select 2nd gear to use. Get your car checked for codes. This will let you know for sure. Hope this helps.

Dec 04, 2011 | 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora

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1997 chevy camaro. it doesnt shift into 1st or overdrive. it starts in 2nd gear. is it ignition switch?


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Feb 09, 2011 | 1997 Chevrolet Camaro

1 Answer

2002 Impala: transmission limp mode...


Most transmissions have a limp mode, or limp-home mode.
If the driveline computer thinks there is something wrong, it can lock the transmission into one gear, such as 2nd gear. Usually reverse will also be available. The Impala automatic has 4 speeds. 2nd speed or gear will get you home, but the engine rpms can get a little high. I wouldn't get on the expressway will in limp mode.
Before taking to the shop, you might want to try and reset limp mode by turning the car off for a couple minutes, or you may have to disconnect and reconnect the battery.

May 16, 2010 | 2002 Chevrolet Impala

1 Answer

Starts out in 3rd gear


Trans shifts into gear harshly, car feels sluggish off the line, No 1st, 4th or TCC lockup available, Manual 2nd, 3rd and Reverse are only available gears, CEL is on: Transmision is either in limp-home mode or has lost electrical power. If there are lots of error codes in the PCM, check the underhood fuse that powers the transmission, and if it pops again, look for a short in that circuit like an O2 sensor harness touching exhaust. Otherwise, check PCM codes for a particular fault in the transmission causing the PCM to put it in limp-home mode.
What is "limp-home mode" ? This is a fault mode in which the transmission either loses electrical power or the PCM deactivates all of the electronics. The transmission will default to max line pressure. The driver will have Reverse and 3rd, with manual 2nd available by putting the gearshift in 2 or 1 (doesn't matter). 1st, 4th, and TCC lockup will not be available. It will not hurt the car to drive it like this for short periods, but use manual 2nd to get the car moving, and be aware that the trans will generate more heat than normal while operating in limp-home mode due to increased torque converter slippage during 2nd gear starts and no lockup in 3rd gear.
Before guessing at transmission problems, check the fluid level (car warmed up, engine running in Park on level ground) and have the PCM scanned for trouble codes FIRST. This guide is meant for problems that do not show up as PCM codes (like shift A&B solenoid failures, for example).
Thank you for using fixya and good luck

Apr 19, 2010 | 1994 Oldsmobile 88

1 Answer

Will not shift into 2nd gear on a automatic trans


Trans shifts into gear harshly, car feels sluggish off the line, No 1st, 4th or TCC lockup available, Manual 2nd, 3rd and Reverse are only available gears, CEL is on: Transmision is either in limp-home mode or has lost electrical power. If there are lots of error codes in the PCM, check the underhood fuse that powers the transmission, and if it pops again, look for a short in that circuit like an O2 sensor harness touching exhaust. Otherwise, check PCM codes for a particular fault in the transmission causing the PCM to put it in limp-home mode.

What is "limp-home mode" ? This is a fault mode in which the transmission either loses electrical power or the PCM deactivates all of the electronics. The transmission will default to max line pressure. The driver will have Reverse and 3rd, with manual 2nd available by putting the gearshift in 2 or 1 (doesn't matter). 1st, 4th, and TCC lockup will not be available. It will not hurt the car to drive it like this for short periods, but use manual 2nd to get the car moving, and be aware that the trans will generate more heat than normal while operating in limp-home mode due to increased torque converter slippage during 2nd gear starts and no lockup in 3rd gear.

Thank you for using fixya and good luck

Apr 10, 2010 | 1994 Chevrolet S-10 Blazer

1 Answer

2001 chevy cavalier transmission only has rev. and 2nd is this an electrical problem???


I had this problem with my '91 Dodge spirit, I'm not good with automatic transmissions, but basically, that's in 'limp mode' or a fail-safe to avoid damage when something fails, unless you're comfortable rebuilding it yourself, you'll have to take it in

Jan 08, 2010 | 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier

1 Answer

4L 60E - 2001 k1500 will not shift into 3-4. Oil is not burn't and stifts great into1-2


  • No 3rd or 4th gear: “3-4” clutches are worn out. R&R. The car is safe to drive (in 2) until you can get it fixed.
  • Trans shifts into gear harshly, car feels sluggish off the line, No 1st, 4th or TCC lockup available, Manual 2nd, 3rd and Reverse are only available gears, CEL is on: Transmission is either in limp-home mode or has lost electrical power. If there are lots of error codes in the PCM, check the under hood fuse that powers the transmission, and if it pops again, look for a short in that circuit like an O2 sensor harness touching exhaust. Otherwise, check PCM codes for a particular fault in the transmission causing the PCM to put it in limp-home mode.
  • No 1st or 4th available; trans shifts 2nd to 3rd by itself in D or OD and locks the converter : Shift A solenoid failed. Easy fix in the pan. Or a wiring problem from PCM to trans.. or PCM.
Check to see if your transmission is in the limp mode, which would only give you 2nd, 3rd and reverse gears. No 1st or 4th gear.

Nov 19, 2009 | 2003 GMC Sierra 1500

1 Answer

Automatic transmission is stuck in 2nd gear (limp mode)


most newer vehicles  have transmission control modules,that go to a default of 2nd or 3rd gear when they go bad!  I had a 91 plymouth stuck in 3rd gear because of this module! could be your problem!    when mine went out, it smelled like something electrical burned inside the the passenger cabin! I would check all the electrical connections on the transmission first    good luck   

Jan 02, 2009 | 1998 Chevrolet K1500

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