Hard upshift has many possible causes
Dear Angie: I have a 1999 Pontiac Montana van that has a hard upshift sometimes. What causes this? How can it be repaired, what is the cost of repair and is it worth it to get it fixed? What can happen if I don’t get it fixed? – George N., St. Louis.
Dear George: Without running diagnostic testing on the vehicle, it’s hard to know exactly what is wrong. The problem could depend on many factors, including how intermittent the hard shift is and in what gear you feel it.
It could be a simple issue, like a clogged filter, or a major internal transmission problem. Repair costs could be less than $200 to more than $2,000. For less than $100, you should be able to have a computer diagnostic test done to see if the van’s computer will identify a code that points to the exact part of the vehicle that needs attention. Your mechanic can also check the manufacturer’s Technical Service Bulletin to determine if there is a recurring issue with that make and model and the procedure needed to repair it.
Some mechanics I contacted said a failure of the pressure control solenoids for the transmission could be causing the clunky shifting. New versions of the solenoid should have a stainless steel piece called a “pintle,” instead of a plastic one. In that situation, the repair should cost around $500-600. Another possibility is the engine could have manifold leaks. That repair could cost $1,000. That’s why it’s so important to have a thorough assessment of the vehicle by multiple mechanics before agreeing to any major repair. If you don’t have it repaired, depending on what it may be, it could cause further internal problems with the transmission or engine.
Is the repair worth it? That depends on a number of things, including the condition of the vehicle and if it’s still safe for you and your family. If you’re paying more for repairs than the vehicle is worth, or plan to replace it soon anyway, then it might not be worth fixing. When two consecutive years of repairs exceed the annual cost of a replacement vehicle – including the car loan payment, maintenance and service – it’s time to go car shopping.
Of course, in today’s economy, buying new isn’t an option for everyone. According to the Auto Affordability Index, the average total cost of buying and financing a new car is $27,500. That doesn’t account for upkeep and all the usual maintenance any car requires which can add up.
Ultimately, it’s worth it to hire a good auto mechanic to help you determine the condition of the vehicle.