Car will NOT go into overdrive. Need Advice... [Archive] - Nissan Xterra Forum

Car will NOT go into overdrive. Need Advice...

06-06-2009, 10:37 AM
As the topic states, I cannot get my 2003 Xterra, 2WD, 6-cyl (non-supercharged) to engage into overdrive. I can put the "petal to the metal" and it will still only slowly and lathargically crawl up to MAX 4K rpm's before elavating to the next gear.

Obviously, this creates sluggish driving speeds, and makes express ramp times rather dangerous.

I have checked all of the fuses in the interior fuse panel. All of them look fine. No check engine light.

Also, I DO NOT have the overdrive button turned to off on the shifter. If i push this button, I DO get the signal on the dash, but their is no difference in operation. On OR off, I get no overdrive.

Is there another place to look? It sounds electrical. Is their a solenoid of some sort?

Other than this one issue, the car drives and operates very smoothly. It just has no pick-up and go when you need it.

Thanks in advance for any insight that you guys can give me.

06-06-2009, 11:09 AM
Im no Tech but the Trans does have a shift Solenoid pack(like 3 together) and then a single solenoid that I think is for overdrive. You may want to consult a Nissan Tech or a Trans Specialist about that to see if those can cause this issue.

06-06-2009, 02:07 PM
I agree with Jmac. If the overdrive was mechanically "down" then it wouldn't let you out of 2nd gear (at least in my experience with my blazer). I wasn't aware of the solenoid pack but that's a good idea for places to start. Maybe Ian or James can get on here and give a bit more insight.

06-06-2009, 07:39 PM
kick it

jk, sorry im no help

06-07-2009, 02:38 AM
Have you checked your Trans fluid lately?

06-07-2009, 02:45 AM
it really dosent sound like a overdrive issue but more of a problem with the shifting of the transmission... the over drive is the final drive, and the way you explained it is the tranny wont shift till 4k rpms so the first place i would check is the fluid and then if it is still good and full then you might have issues with the tranny itself and it might need to be serviced... i would go to a tranny shop and see what they have to say...

06-07-2009, 07:54 AM
actually, the way i read it it sounded like it wont shift OUT of overdrive, overdrive is a high gear, which would cause it be be all kinds of slow if it were stuck in OD

06-07-2009, 10:39 AM
My first solution to problems like these is to drop the pan, clean it, replace the screen, refill it, then do a flush and see how she goes from there.

06-07-2009, 05:16 PM
i agree i think the screens got a block

06-07-2009, 09:01 PM
Okay so I read it again and it still sounds like he is saying......"car will not go into overdrive
So this could be an overdrive solenoid issue, I can't think of anything else that would cause a trans not to go into overdrive. Although not real common I have seen this solenoid go bad before.
Nissan, in normal situations do not need to have the filter replaced, you would just want to have the trans flushed about every 30K miles for an automatic.
Did you check the fluid yet?

06-07-2009, 09:14 PM
Thanks for all of the reply's guys. Confirmed: The car WILL NOT go into overdrive. It's slow as a snail. Pedal to the floor, and I can only get it to rev up to around 3800. It won't go passed this. Instead, it just goes up to the next gear.

I called the local delearship, and they mentioned a solenoid for overdrive as a possible culprit as well. So, thats a great possibility, and thank you for the confirmation.

I had not thought of the tranny oil as being a problem. We have only owned the car for about 9 months, and have not yet changed it.

So, we definitely need to do that, thanks for reminding me.

Do I need to use Nissan's oil, or is there another one that I can use (that's cheaper)? How many quarts do I need to fill the tranny?

06-08-2009, 09:00 PM
OK, so I've spent some time on the search tool looking up advice on flushing the tranny vs. just draining and replacing the oil.

Can you guys confirm that my research is correct:

I have a 2003 Xterra, so I DO NOT have to worry about getting the fancy dealership Matig G fluid, or whatever it's called (such is the case with the 2005 and up X's). I CAN put in something from Autozone, such as the recommended Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF, and I will need 4 QUARTS to replace my fluid once I drain from the drain-bolt.

If I just drain and refill, I will need to do it twice in order to totally cleanse the tranny and case, and I should have about 30 miles of driving in b/t drain and fills. This should then sufficiently clean the tranny, and case, while working to clean any clogs in the screen from old oil. However, this method will not clean out the torque converter oil. The bonus to this method is that it will save me a bit of work in regards to having to manually drop the pan and clean the screen.


I could take my X to a shop and have them do a complete tranny system power FLUSH. This would completely flush the system, INCLUDING the torque converter oil. However, this seems to have mixed reviews. It seems that this is only good for Xterras that have frequently had the tranny oil replaced. For an X like mine, with over 100K miles (and I have NO idea about past service records, as I have only owned the vehicle for about 9 months; for all I know the tranny fluid could NEVER have been flushed) then this might not be a good idea, as the plates may have sealed together in the tranny with the old fluid. if this is the case, then flushing my tranny could actually cause more problems that it could help.

This is what I gather on my 2003 Xterra. Is this correct? Did I read right?

If so, then which route should I take? I have 115K on the odometer.

Should I flush, or is that not a safe bet?

Should I drain and refill twice?

Need some help pronto, as I would like to get this taken care of tomorrow afternoon at a local shop.

We have a small child in the back seat, so this problem is VERY IMPORTANT to me. We almost got run over by a semi-trunk getting on to the interstate today. PLEASE ADVISE!!!!!


06-09-2009, 09:56 AM
At this point I would take it to a good shop or Dealership to find out what the real problem is. But it does sound like you have done your research correctly.
Good luck.

06-09-2009, 10:01 AM
it still sounds to me like the tranny is stuck IN overdrive if its sluggish, it should accelerate just fine if it was stuck OUT of overdrive

06-09-2009, 10:03 AM
That is a good point but I thought he said it is shifting at some point just not correctly.
I can't wait to find out the answer.

06-09-2009, 10:06 AM
lol, im sure he cant wait either

ill elaborate;

when cruising, and you gas it, the initial shift you feel is the trans shifting OUT of overdrive, then if you gas it hard enough there will be another shift with much more kick when the trans actually shifts into a lower gear, here is a bs diagram of the gears showing where OD is related to D and 1-4

D 1
OD 2

07-03-2009, 01:02 AM
sounds to me like no overdrive and yes there is a shift sol but you will get a code if it is bad. The problem is one of two things if it is not shifting the 3/4 shift valve in the valvebody is stuck or has broke the end plug that holds it in(can be fixed in truck) If it is shifting to 4 gear and not holding gear it is the overdrive cultch drum (interal) as i do this work everyday.

07-03-2009, 07:46 AM
Good info hammer. Nice to have a trans guy on board!

07-05-2009, 02:37 PM
Hey man did you find out the issue yet?