Had the same problem! Could not put car into gear finally drove to closest mechanic and they did something but did not fix now EPC light is on and brake lights wont turn off even when car is not running! Im going to dealership tomorrow, had to pull the fuse plugs so light would turn off overnight! This really is a problem....
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When you say rocky spot, what do you mean? If you mean there were rocks in the roadway, you could have put a small hole in the transmission pan which leaked all the fluid out of it. First thing I would do is check the fluid level on the transmission dipstick and look for leaks on the ground under the car.
Tom it could be that the transmission fluid is low. Sometimes these are safety mechanisms to keep from burning out the transmission. Check the transmission level to make sure it is at the appropiate level. If it does not work after that it could be transmission issue.
It sounds like the trany is on it's way out. It might be the torque converter. At any rate the trany will probably have to come out. Does the trany seem to work good, shifts good, no slipping? There is another posibility it could be a loose heat shield on the exhaust pipe rattling. Have some one you can trust check it out.
Take it to the dealer, the EPC warning light - and even more the failsafe run which doesn't allow you drive faster than 20mph) is an indication of serious motor troubles. They can read the ECU faultcodes, which should be a good startingpoint for troubleshooting the cause ...
You could do some basic troubleshooting like checking the air filter, the oil level, the spark plugs, etc. You didn't fill it up with bad gas, did you ? And does the engine make strange noises/vibration when running idle ? In case you fixed some obvious cause, you can dis- and reconnect the battery to erase the engine's faultcode. If it's not fixed, the EPC (and failsafe run) will simply come on again.
My advice would be not to drive it untill it's fixed to prevent more potential damage.