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4Runner won't move forward in Drive when cold

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Old 01-03-2010, 10:34 PM   #1
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4Runner won't move forward in Drive when cold

I have a '99 with about 130k miles. It starts having some problems lately in the cold mornings -- sometimes it is reluctant to go into Drive when it is cold (temperature here around 40 F in the morning). I can back out of the garage/driveway just fine, but when I put it in Drive, the car does not move forward. Rev the engine a bit, still no go. Just like it is in Neutral. Put it in 2 or L, same thing -no go. Put it in Drive again, and keep reving the engine for a while, then suddenly it "slams" in with a jolt and big noise. Once it moves, everything is back to normal. Drives fine, and tranny shifts okay.

It only does it when cold; once it is warm, it is fine. I have checked transmission fluid (regularly drained and refilled every 20k), level, color, smell all seem to be fine. I am afraid it will not go in at all sometime and I will be stuck. Suggestions?
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:18 PM   #2
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Coming from colder climates, I can say that 40 F is not exactly "cold". 4F or -4F and that might be expected, just not letting it warm up enough. At 40F, your tranny should work pretty much normally, if maybe a bit slow.
Anyone?
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:42 PM   #3
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Something else to check, when's the last time the driveshaft was lubed?
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:53 PM   #4
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Check shift linkages. Check fluid. Does it have the right fluid in it? Shifter broke and or hanging halfway in neutral and drive.
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Old 01-04-2010, 03:47 PM   #5
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mine was doing the same a few weeks ago. it would go great in reverse, but slam after it was reved in drive. i tryed doing a slow rollback in reverse then hit it to drive and it was smooth.. it started a few weeks ago but since its gotten colder it stoped. weird
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Old 01-04-2010, 05:54 PM   #6
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Mine does this on cold mornings too (20 degrees or below). It feels as if the parking break is on when attempting to leave in drive from a stop. When it hits 1200-1500 rpm it starts to creep forward then a big clunk. The cluck sounds to be from the third member. Trans fluids are all ok. After this everyhing runs normal after warmed up. Could the rear drums be freezing upsticking?
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Old 01-04-2010, 10:59 PM   #7
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Its all about viscosity, when the temp is cold out the fluid in the tranny thickens, an automatic tranny uses fluid to shift in to different gears. So when the fluid is thicker it flows and applies forces differently then when its at running temp, three things you can try to ease the ‘bang’ shifting is to either adjust the line pressure cable (kick down cable), you can install new solenoids (worn ones either don’t open far enough for thicker fluid or get stuck and then suddenly open which makes the tranny SLAM in to gear) or you could wait and allow the tranny to reach an normal operating temp range. Also if your tranny still ‘bang’ shifts in R, first shift straight in to D then back to R, R is the only gear that doesn’t have an accumulative piston and will always be the harshest shift, by first shifting in to D the excess line pressure is dampened by D es accumulative piston and will ease the stress on the tranny as it goes in to R……….just my 00.02 hope this helps!
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Old 01-05-2010, 09:33 AM   #8
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I live in Canada, and when it goes to -30 my brakes in the morning don't release as soon as I put the truck in drive/reverse...it takes about 1min for the system to work properly in extreme cold...I had this problem before I did a caliper conversion last year..I thought I would of fixed it but I guess its the cold causing the issue. Also I if you use your e-brake...it may not be releasing? I have also had this problem where the e-brake was ceased to my rear end causing axel seal leaks...no e-brake dash light or any warning....the truck wouldnt move...then all of a sudden the rear brake would release and the truck was back to normal.

Last edited by Jay204; 01-05-2010 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:03 PM   #9
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Just let your truck warm up a bit in the mornings and keep driving.
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Old 01-05-2010, 02:09 PM   #10
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trans filter is more than likely clogged when the trans fluid is cold and thick it can't move through the filter but when its warmed up it flow alot better my truck won't shift into overdrive when its cold here which is around 50 degrees i bet if i lived further north mine would do the same
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:17 PM   #11
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Might be time to start saving up for a rebuild. 40 is not cold, and I've never had issues down to -20
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Old 01-05-2010, 04:41 PM   #12
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Thank you all very much for all the replies. The same thing happened again this morning. Openned the window while shifting between the gears (R, D, P, 2, and L). Car did not move at all for about 2-3 minutes. Then it suddenly slam in with a big clunk. I kept shifting a few more times between D and R and heard some noise coming from the rear end/brakes. Brought it to my mechanic friend who specializes in Toyota vehicles. Good news is that it's not the tranny. He adjusted the rear/parking brakes and lubed the parking brake cables etc. and said it should be okay now. I will test it tomorrow morning and report back to see whether it was caused by sticky rear brakes.

Thank you all again!
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Old 01-05-2010, 06:14 PM   #13
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Wow, maybe it was the rear axle seals broke, swelling the pads which stuck more in the cold? And the slamming was the car breaking free of the brakes grip. Interesting, keep us posted how this goes
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Old 01-05-2010, 10:25 PM   #14
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I'm guessing you put the e-brake on when you park it? Has anyone done any recent brake work to the truck? I'd avoid the e-brake for a while if it keeps on until you can raelly fix it.....
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:07 AM   #15
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I heard that the trans filter commonly causes this problem. It's pretty cheap if you want to try it.
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Old 01-07-2010, 05:26 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukon View Post
Wow, maybe it was the rear axle seals broke, swelling the pads which stuck more in the cold? And the slamming was the car breaking free of the brakes grip. Interesting, keep us posted how this goes
Thats my prognosis !
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:09 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukon View Post
Wow, maybe it was the rear axle seals broke, swelling the pads which stuck more in the cold? And the slamming was the car breaking free of the brakes grip. Interesting, keep us posted how this goes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay204 View Post
Thats my prognosis !
This was exactly the problem with my '02 4Runner.

When it got really cold out the rear brakes would stick from pressing the brake while shifting from Park to Drive. They would continue to lock up when I pressed the brake once moving. When I took my foot of the break the truck wouldn't crawl forward like it normally would. If I gave it a little gas then you would hear a loud clunk and the truck would pop forward. I could also get the vehicle to roll in reverse but not in Drive. Eventually I couldn't get the brakes to pop lose and I had to call a tow truck.

It gets much colder here in Saskatoon, SK, Canada, -40F is normal every other week throughout the winter, and my rear axles seals had been slowly leaking (very common problem in the 3rd Gens, for anyone who doesn't know). The oil leaked into the drum brakes and slowly saturated the brake shoes causing them to stick in cold weather. I cleaned out the drums of all the oil and the brakes would still stick. I then replaced the shoes and the problem is completely gone and hasn't happened in the last month or so of -40F.

Last edited by cj_rezz; 01-07-2010 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:13 PM   #18
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Diagnosed mine today finally. It was my brakes sticking. It is my back right brake that is freezing up. I finally diagnosed the problem after the first real snow fall today and went for an outing/play.

What a pain to keep it straight until the rear un-sticks, and if you don't use the brakes for a while it sticks as soon as i hit the brakes, kinda makes for a nervous ride because you cant really control the vehicle, just slides to the left.

Guess I will looking into replacing my rear brakes, checking seals etc. At least it isn't the trans.
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:29 AM   #19
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I promised to report back.

It was like 20 F the last two mornings (probably nothing for those in the north, but extremely cold for us living in central TX. lol). Car starts, shifts, and runs fine without any issue. Seems the fix on sticky rear breaks solved the problem.

Again, thank you all for all the responses and suggestions. I love this forum.

Additional thoughts: While doing some research on the possible causes for the sympotom described in my original posting, I learned here and there on the internet that there are several possiblilities (some were suggested by you guys). Let me summarize what I learned and hope the list below (starting with the easiest and lowest cost) is helpful for someone with similar issues:

1. check transimmsion fluid (run the car for 20 minutes, park in a flat surface, go through all the gears slowly, put in P, check the fluid)

2. make sure the battery is good (google '4Runner, battery, transimmision' you will see several people having similar issue with a dying battery)

3. rear brakes/e-brakes, and rear axel seals/leaking

4. clean/replace transmission filter; add Lubeguard (don't know what this is, but one guy mentioned this somewhere else and solved his problem.

5. transmission solenoids (google this site and other sites for locations, pictures, and procedures to check and replace transimission solenoids)

6. (add here)

7. (add here)

.....

The very last option is transmission rebuilt/replacement. Very few 4Runner owners have had to go this route, though.

Last edited by txt4r; 01-08-2010 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:17 PM   #20
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i know this is an old thread but i'm hoping more have experienced this problem since then, as i am having it now. it's intermittent but typically noticed when backing out of the garage then putting it in drive. engine revs but doesn't engage immediately. then i notice a slight lurch or jerk as it takes off. i replace the brakes about two months ago. axle seals are bone dry. in my case i don't believe its brake related as the engine revs as if its under no load. it's definitely a noticealbe difference when comparing to power braking it. i changed the trans fluid and filter about 3 months ago. my thought is a sluggish trans solenoid but just wondering if anyone else is experiencing this again.
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