I have a 1996 Toyota Corolla. 1.6 liter 3 speed automatic.
I purchased the car at auction and found that it will not shift from 2nd to 3rd. Occasionally it will shift just fine but most of the time it will not shift out of 2nd gear. I have changed the fluid and filter, added trans-X and it did no good. I have been told that it is most likely a "shift solenoid". I pulled the pan again and was unable to locate a shift solenoid. I asked a local parts house and they did not show a shift solenoid for that model. I have also been told that it is the computer but I have not changed that yet. I have trouble believing that the transmission is bad because sometimes it shifts just fine. I am sure it is something simple but I am not sure what to look at next. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
There a few things that can cause your shifting problems. There are two service bulletins regarding these conditions. I listed a brief description of them below.
The first is that the rubber check balls in the valve body can wear out and possibly blow through the separator plate. The check balls that are original stock are black. A more durable check ball to take its place is blue in color.
The second is that the metal sealing rings inside the transmission could be failing or under sized. When this happens you could have sticking or delayed shifts or slipping. This repair would usually be done with a transmission overhaul.
The third is that a valve or solenoid in the governor fluid circuit could be sticking causing the shifting to stick at second gear.
The only true way to diagnosis the problem is to scan the computer and watch the solenoid operation on the scanner. If the computer commands the solenoid to operate and the transmission doesn't shift then that would indicate a possible sticking valve or solenoid.
A sticking throttle cable could also cause shifting problems, check for any kinks or obstructions in the cable that may cause the cable to bind inside its casing.
The other way would be a transmission pressure test to confirm a problem in the governor circuit.
I know times are tuff and you don't want to spend the large amount of money for diagnostics of the transmission but it is cheaper than just changing parts to see if it fixes the problem.
First off thanks for the info. I looked for a solenoid and was unable to find one so I was going to go ahead and order one if for no other reason than to know what it looked like. Apparently, according to the Toyota dealership this model does not have a solenoid. The only electrical connection I could find on the entire transmission is located on the firewall side near the engine block. It is held on by 3 Phillips head screws. Could this be what we are looking for? I had the car hooked up to a code tester and the only codes I got were the ECT sensor and an EGR restricted flow. I replaced the ECT sensor and found that the vacuum ports in the throttle body were clogged. I cleaned those out and now I get no codes from the computer. For the life of me I can't figure out why it will shift fine sometimes and not shift out of 2nd the majority of the time.
I just read on "toyota nation" that it could be the governor behind the drivers side axle. That sound right to you and if so Is it worth pulling the axle to check?
As I mentioned in the first answer I gave that it could be the governor or somewhere in the governor fluid circuit.
If dirt or debris gets into the governor valve or is just sticking it will cause the transmission to shift late.
When the car is cold remove the governor from the transmission and check the operation of the valve. It is possible you will find the valve sticking.
Let me know how you make out.
Whoops, You clearly did mention that. I'm going to pull it out tomorrow. I will let you know. Thanks
Got it out today. The valve seems ok but the gear is worn badly. Had to drive half of Kentucky to find one but I have one ordered for tuesday. 45.00.
Bingo, replaced the governor and it shifts like a new car. Took about 15-20 mins to have it back up and running. Thanks a ton for your help!