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#4620972 - 01/01/18 06:16 PM Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear
AnonOIl Offline


Registered: 10/01/17
Posts: 23
Loc: GA, USA
Hello all! I drive a 2004 Toyota Highlander FWD 4 Cylinder with now 183k on her. Currently I am facing a problem of the transmission sometimes hesitating to go into it's last gear, 4th I believe. This will happen usually in the morning on the first drive of the day to school or work but it also occurs other times, seemingly at random. My ATF is normal looking, all pink/red, no metallic specks etc. and has been drained and refilled as service, twice as far as I know (I am the third owner, was gifted the car from my mother and father before her). However, I know the transmission filter was NEVER replaced. Could a transmission dump, fill, and filter replacement possibly solve my problem? Also maybe some stop slip additive like the Lucasoil stuff? Please let me know anything that I could do to help. Thanks! Have a great day.

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#4620999 - 01/01/18 06:37 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
dblshock Offline


Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 2592
Loc: WI.
Had a '06 same setup...well, you have to tr a dump and new filter very possible filter was never replaced...Toyota even discourages it for reasons I don't understand..I'd surely use Toyota fluid and filter.
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#4621004 - 01/01/18 06:40 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
5AcresAndAFool Offline


Registered: 12/18/16
Posts: 375
Loc: Indiana
I dont know if this is the problem or not however I will say this. Toyotas generally delay the shifts into top gear when the engine is still cold. So this is very likely why it is doing this when the vehicle is first driven.

In our 05 sienna it delays the shift into 4th and 5th when its cold. It feels very unnatural when it does this. I believe they do this for emissions purposes.

I would think a drain and fill and filter change would be a good idea at this point.


Edited by 5AcresAndAFool (01/01/18 06:40 PM)
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#4621011 - 01/01/18 06:49 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
dblshock Offline


Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 2592
Loc: WI.
yes my HL delayed shifts when cold now that you reminded me.
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Edge 0/40/XG7317
Firehawk Indy 500

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#4621066 - 01/01/18 07:30 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
Rand Offline


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 12494
Loc: NE,Ohio
What transmission fluid is in it? is it the correct fluid?
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#4621098 - 01/01/18 07:52 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
irv Offline


Registered: 10/08/06
Posts: 941
Loc: Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Originally Posted By: AnonOIl
Hello all! I drive a 2004 Toyota Highlander FWD 4 Cylinder with now 183k on her. Currently I am facing a problem of the transmission sometimes hesitating to go into it's last gear, 4th I believe. This will happen usually in the morning on the first drive of the day to school or work but it also occurs other times, seemingly at random. My ATF is normal looking, all pink/red, no metallic specks etc. and has been drained and refilled as service, twice as far as I know (I am the third owner, was gifted the car from my mother and father before her). However, I know the transmission filter was NEVER replaced. Could a transmission dump, fill, and filter replacement possibly solve my problem? Also maybe some stop slip additive like the Lucasoil stuff? Please let me know anything that I could do to help. Thanks! Have a great day.


Has it been colder than normal lately where you live? If so, put your transmission in neutral while the vehicle is idling/warming up and see if that makes a difference when you leave? Put it neutral when you start or enter the vehicle, not just before you leave.
I have been doing that for years now and it works, in my opinion. Just don't forget to use your emergency brake/brake while sitting there nor forget to put it back into park if you have to exit for some reason.
Let us/me know if this makes any difference tomorrow?
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#4621149 - 01/01/18 08:40 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: 5AcresAndAFool]
AnonOIl Offline


Registered: 10/01/17
Posts: 23
Loc: GA, USA
Interesting, thank you for the info! Will do, thank you!

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#4621161 - 01/01/18 08:45 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: irv]
AnonOIl Offline


Registered: 10/01/17
Posts: 23
Loc: GA, USA
It has been old but nothing crazy. I live in Georgia so it is in the 30's or so. Thanks for the info!

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#4621231 - 01/01/18 10:04 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
KneeGrinder Offline


Registered: 11/28/17
Posts: 215
Loc: North of you Idaho
Its the temp. A lot of older auto transmissions have a delay shift into overdrive till they build some heat. Don't worry about it. My Ford does it.

P.S. It might just be the converter not locking up till it builds enough heat.


Edited by KneeGrinder (01/01/18 10:06 PM)
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#4621249 - 01/01/18 11:15 PM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: AnonOIl]
mehullica Offline


Registered: 08/19/09
Posts: 536
Loc: Modesto,CA
Try resetting the leaned Ecu values by disconnecting the battery for 10 minutes. Remove the both cables & touch them together to discharge the capacitors & then reconnect. Let the engine fully warmup in park & then drive in a light to moderate throttle in a stop & go city traffic pattern for 10 miles to start a relearn for the ecu & see if it helps

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#4621281 - 01/02/18 12:35 AM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: Rand]
AnonOIl Offline


Registered: 10/01/17
Posts: 23
Loc: GA, USA
One change done with Valvoline Maxlife ATF and one done with Castrol Transmax High Mileage. Both compatible with toyota's type T-IV fluid required in my tranny I believe.

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#4621282 - 01/02/18 12:39 AM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: mehullica]
AnonOIl Offline


Registered: 10/01/17
Posts: 23
Loc: GA, USA
Huh, will give that a shot. Thanks!

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#4621283 - 01/02/18 12:39 AM Re: Transmission Hesitating to Shift into 4th Gear [Re: irv]
AnonOIl Offline


Registered: 10/01/17
Posts: 23
Loc: GA, USA
Sounds like a plan, thank you!

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