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Old 03-06-2002, 01:38 PM
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Question long shift when car is cold

I am having this problem when I first start my car only. I can start my car and back out the driveway and shift to drive and drive several blocks before the first shift. Once is shifts the first time it works fine from then on. I can drive real slow or real fast (as fast as I can in 1st gear) and it will still wait a couple of blocks before shifting. If I park the car for over 6 hours I will have the same problem but if it is only parked a couple of hours no problem. It seems like there is someting in the transmission that needs to warm up before it will shift. I have tried to let the car idle for several minutes before starting out and it still waits before shifting. I have set and shifted from park to drive to reverse several times with the car running and waiting for it to go into each gear and it still waits to shift. The car is '91 300SE with 150,000 miles. Is it time to rebuild the tranny or is there something simple to try before I take it to a tranny shop. I have a name of a good shop that works on Mercedes from my mechanic so I am not going to take it to just any tranny shop.

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Old 03-06-2002, 01:59 PM
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Looks like your tranny does not like cold weather. How about mooving to Equator??
I'd start by draining the fluid, put frech stuff in it and replace filter.
There may some some additional problems but new oil/filter is relatively cheap as compared to having the tranny rebuilt.
Just my 2c worth
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Old 03-06-2002, 02:24 PM
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Location: Manchester, Connecticut
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I'm 99% positive it should do that when does it so the cat gets warmed up. My 92' 190E use to do that in the cold mornings and I thought something was wrong until researched it...don't know if my 500E does it because it hibernates during the winter, probably does though. Hopefully, others here will verify me.

1992 500E
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Old 03-06-2002, 02:35 PM
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Old 03-06-2002, 02:39 PM
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Indeed, my W123 is the same way, and I've heard the same: that it's perfectly normal. Holding itself in 1st gear longer helps get tranny warmed up and to optimal operating temperature more quickly.

Of course, as Jackd advises, a fluid and filter change never hurts if it hasn't been done recently.

- Ryan
'95 E420 - 'Shadowfax' 138kmi.
'92 Volvo 740Turbo Bard 193kmi
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Old 03-06-2002, 03:34 PM
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Just change the filter & fluid.

A new filter & some good synthetic fluid (Redline or Amsoil) will do you a world of good. My friend had similar problems with a 6-series BMW in the cold winters of Michigan, he changed the filter & used synthetic fluids and got second gear back by the end of the block.

1998 BMW 540i Sport
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Old 03-06-2002, 04:40 PM
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Where do I get the synthetic ATF?
Michael LaFleur

'05 E320 CDI - 86,000 miles
'86 300SDL - 360,000 miles
'85 300SD - 150,000 miles (sold)
'89 190D - 120,000 miles (sold)
'85 300SD - 317,000 miles (sold)
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Old 03-06-2002, 04:51 PM
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You can get Mobile 1 synthetic ATF at Autozones in Michigan for $4.99/qt.

You have to order Redline or Amsoil synthetic ATF.

There are some synthetic blends on the market as well.
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Old 03-06-2002, 05:00 PM
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Normal on colder days.
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Old 03-06-2002, 05:01 PM
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Not normal.
My 300E 2.6 has survived through 7 Canadian very cool winters since I got it and I never had this problem.
I don,t think Mercedes ever designed those cars not to shift properly during winter.
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Old 03-06-2002, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Island Heights, N.J.
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My SL does the EXACT same thing! I as told that this was normal by the dealership!
Dale, R129
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Old 03-06-2002, 05:30 PM
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If you read your owner's manual, it will tell you that the car was designed to do this.

When the coolant temperature is below 50 d C, it will delay the shift out of 2nd gear (not 1st gear). However, if you rev the engine above 3100 RPM, it will shift out of 2nd gear. It does this to warm the catalytic converter faster, thus reducing emissions.
2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
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Old 03-06-2002, 06:31 PM
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Your car should start in second gear under normal conditions. When it's cold, it'll hold second gear for a while so the engine warms up more quickly. That's perfectly normal.

If your car were in first gear, you could probably drive up a wall and going as fast as you can would mean something ridiculous like 20mph. First gear is very tall and very obvious. When your car is at a stop, put the shifter in the '2' position. You should feel something engage in the transmission. When you move, you'll be in first gear.

91 300SE
81 300SD
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Old 03-06-2002, 07:12 PM
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Well I am not in a real cold area, Dallas and it will do it when the outside temp is below about 70. I think it is first because I can only get up to about 20 and it will stay there for a block or so. If everyone says that it is normal I will not worry about it and just change the fluid and filter and keep truckin. Or should I say carin, is that a word? Now I only have one more thing to worry about and that is my heater and I think the winter is over down here for this year.

Thanks for the input,
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Old 03-06-2002, 07:22 PM
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To clarify, cold means a cold engine, not cold ambient temperature. I think someone mentioned that the engine has to get to 32C/90F before the transmission will shift.

If you're having trouble with your heater, do a search on 'monovalve.'

91 300SE
81 300SD
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