Getting 2004 Chevy Surburban Started PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

My 2004 Chevy Surburban (80K miles) will not go forward after in "D" gear. I have to put it in 2nd gear; start slowly, then move it to "D" after getting up to 30 -40 miles per hour. There were no warnings. I had absolutely no problems/warnings before last Saturday. I went to the store, came back out, and put it in "D", and it would not move. I put it in 3rd… nothing. I put it in 2nd; it moved.

Mechanic wants to rebuild transmission. I'm skeptical. What do you think?


Dear Dinah,

I would first suggest, if you have not already, to check and make sure that you have transmission fluid in your tranny. If you have a leak and have lost it all, then you will have a hard time shifting into the gears. From what you are describing to me, it sounds like you will need to invest in a new or rebuilt transmission. You mention that you had absolutely no warning before all of this happened but your tranny may have been “slipping” and you just not know what to look for or not know the feeling of “slipping” when it was going on.

And even if you would have had some warnings that you were familiar with or aware of, a transmission is not something that you can quickly fix once the gears start grinding up inside the casing. I would also suggest getting a second opinion by taking it directly to a shop that will do the work right there, like a transmission shop. A lot of shops send work out to another shop, then tack on extra money that you end up paying out of your pocket.

I wish I had better news for you, but I have personally been in your place so many times before by needing that good ole tranny to get me down the road.

Thanks for writing in,

Speed Limit for Class B Motor Home PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

The class B motor home I have advises me to disengage the transmission overdrive when in city traffic. My question is can the overdrive be disengaged or engaged while in motion under load or no load or stopped at idle. The manual gives no indication one or the other.

I enjoy the column and try to read it every week.

Thank you,


Dear Paul,

The overdrive switch can be activated at anytime at any speed. I would suggest keeping speeds under 50MPH when making the change to no-overdrive.

Thanks for writing in, happy motoring and enjoying my column in The Houston Chronicle…my favorite newspaper!

1996 Honda Civic Hot Limp Transmission PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I have a 1996 Honda Civic and after driving the car for about 10-15 minutes when the engine is hot the transmission drops down to low gear and will not shift out. This is an automatic. After starting the car up again when it is cold the transmission works fine until the car engine has warmed up. There are no type of warning lights and the transmission fluid is ok.

Thanks Warren,

Dear Warren,

It sounds like the transmission is going into limp mode after it senses a problem. This could be as simple as a speed sensor so check with your local transmission shop.

Thanks for writing in again,

1990 Mazda 626 DX Transmission Hold PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I have a 1990 Mazda 626 DX and it will not go into forward or reverse because the hold button on the shift lever was accidentally depressed. The light on the dash blinks "hold".

What do I do? Please. Please Help!


Dear Tim,

This could simply be a fuse but no matter what you need to have your Mazda towed to your local Mazda dealership and have them diagnose it in order to determine exactly what is wrong with the electronic transmission that you have.

This problem is pretty rare and can obviously cripple your car as you are experiencing. I am sorry that this is not a simple home repair that I could tell you how to fix yourself.

I hope this helps to get you into gear and down the road!

Thanks for writing in,


Toyota Tacoma has a phantom rear-ender PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

My 2006 Tacoma seems to have a rear end problem. When I come to a stoplight or stop sign and while still in gear, it bumps or jerks like another car has bumped you from behind. It does this about 60 percent of the time. Toyota says there is nothing they can do about this. What do you think the problem is?  Also, if left unattended will it get worse and cause a major repair bill?

Thank you for your help,

Dear Mark,

This could be a few different things, first have an independent mechanic check the universal joints in the drive shaft, the yoke/pinion on the rear differential, engine mounts, transmission mounts, and the rear suspension for loose or worn parts. There is obviously something going on but where it is may be difficult to locate. Seems that dealers these days do not have the know how that they used to.

Thanks for writing in,


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