Q. I have a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire convertible in mint condition with approximately 20,000 miles. The car is garaged and only driven once a week in nice weather. My problem is that it seems that when it is hot outside the transmission doesn’t seem to go right into drive or reverse. There is no transmission dipstick and the owner’s manual says that the fluid never has to be replaced. It’s not a huge problem but I don’t want to do any damage.
A. There is a bolt that can be removed to check the transmission fluid level and, considering the car is 18 years old, it wouldn’t hurt to check the fluid level and condition. If the fluid shows signs of age, it would be wise to change the filter and perform a fluid exchange. That said, the first indication of a transmission failure is usually a hesitation to engage reverse gear. Although this is one of the signs of failure, it could easily last for many more years. Considering the age of the car, even though it is in good condition I wouldn’t be in any rush to overhaul the transmission until the problem becomes more pronounced.