While simple and generally reliable, Mitsubishi automatic transmissions can develop problems, especially at high mileage or if it is a CVT transmission. Suppose your Mitsubishi has developed erratic shifting or won’t shift. In that case, it can indicate a severe problem, such as a faulty valve body, worn bands, faulty transmission speed sensor, torque converter, or something as simple as a low transmission fluid level.
The article outlines the common transmission problems in various Mitsubishi models such as the Eclipse, Lancer, Endeavor, Evolution, Eclipse Cross, Outlander, Galant, and Mirage. The article’s focus will be on both CVT and automatic transmissions, and it will also highlight specific issues found in certain years and models of the vehicles. The article will provide a comprehensive overview of the transmission problems Mitsubishi car owners face and what can be done to diagnose and fix these issues.
If your Mitsubishi transmission is not shifting normally, check the transmission fluid level as soon as possible and, if needed, add the recommended fluid, typically Mitsubishi SPIII Fluid or ATC J4 Fluid, for vehicles with the CVT transmission.
We go over Mitsubishi transmission problems and steps to help you troubleshoot Mitsubishi transmission problems such as limp mode, no shifting, delayed shifting, and slipping.
Low transmission fluid levels quite often cause Mitsubishi transmission problems. Transmission fluid leaks can develop around the transmission pan gasket. Common Mitsubishi automatic transmission problems:
- Mitsubishi transmission will not shift.
- The transmission won’t go in gear.
- Won’t shift out of neutral or Park
- Mitsubishi transmission won’t respond.
- Burning smell from Transmission
- Complete loss of drive gear
- Harsh or failed gear changes
- Jumping to neutral while driving
- No reverse gear
- Rattle or judder during accelerations
Some of these symptoms may not be due to a transmission issue. For example, a faulty Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor, failed catalytic convertor, or accelerator pedal could cause similar symptoms. Mitsubishi 4-speed and 5-speed automatic transmissions installed on Mitsubishi Lancer, Mirage, Galant, and Outlander are very reliable with few issues and can easily last over 150,000 miles.
Mitsubishi vehicles equipped with CVT transmissions are known to have transmission problems. In 2016, Mitsubishi recalled over 80,000 Outlander and Lancer vehicles with CVT transmissions because of delayed acceleration problems.
Issues that may cause Mitsubishi transmission problems:
- Low transmission fluid level – Low transmission fluid level can cause several issues, including erratic shifting, no-shifting, delayed shifting, strange grinding noises, limp mode, and even check engine light to come on.
- Worn Bands – Can cause delayed shifting, shifting at high RPM, harsh shifting, no gear at all, no reverse—an issue on high mileage vehicles with over 200,000 miles.
- Faulty Vehicle Speed Sensor – If your Mitsubishi has developed a harsh shift or is stuck in emergency mode (limp mode), the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) may be the problem. The VSS signal is sent to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), and signal loss due to a bad sensor can cause stuck-in-gear problems.
- Brake Light Switch – A faulty brake light switch can prevent the shifter from moving out or back in the Park.
- PCM / TCU / ECU Software Issue – Software issues can cause erratic shifting or downshifting issues. Mitsubishi transmission may shift too late or gears to drop unexpectedly. Mitsubishi dealer has, in the past, provided software updates to fix these shifting problems.
- Wire harness – Damages of wire harnesses from ECU / PCM to the transmission housing can cause shifting problems. For example, your Mitsubishi may not shift at all.
Identifying Mitsubishi Transmission Problems by Symptoms
Complete loss of drive
Cars that use 4-speed (F4A51) or 5-speed (F5A51) automatic transmission can suffer from a sudden and complete loss of drive and reverse, making the car undrivable.
In most cases, this will happen while driving for some time or under a heavy load. This issue will remain present even after the car cools down. There will be no check engine light or other symptoms.
- Broken transmission pump. A coil cushion spring regulates the engagement of the reverse gear, which is very thin. Over time, the spring can break, send metal particles throughout the transmission, and damage the gears inside the pump. There is an upgraded spring available.
Harsh or failed gear changes
Cars that use 4-speed (F4A51) or 5-speed (F5A51) automatic transmission can have an intermittent shift problem that manifests as harsh, delayed, or even failed gear changes. Depending on the fault, this can happen from startup or after the car reaches operating temperature. A check engine light and corresponding codes will usually be stored in DTC memory.
- Faulty transmission speed sensor, either input or output. In some cases, the problem might be in the wiring or connector. The resulting errors in reading or communications will upset the gear shift pattern.
Jumping to neutral while driving
Larger Mitsubishi SUVs that use a 5-speed V5A51 automatic transmission in longitudinal configuration can suffer intermittent issues with jumping out of gear.
Usually, this will occur in lower gears while accelerating or going uphill. In most cases, the driver can perform manual gear changes.
- Worn low sprag, which is a part of the planetary gear train. If there is excessive wear within this assembly, it will not generate sufficient force to engage gears. However, manual engagement is still possible as it doesn’t depend on this part. Replacing the low sprag or the whole planetary gear train are the only available repairs.
- Clogged solenoids or worn valve body can cause intermittent transmission fluid pressure losses. Depending on the affected solenoids, this may prevent gear engagements. Replacing the valve body with solenoids solves the problem.
No reverse gear
Mitsubishi Lancers or Eclipse with Jatco JF506E 5-speed automatic transmission can experience a sudden reverse loss. In most cases, this will happen after replacing the transmission fluid. This issue will not affect other gears; there will be no noticeable symptoms.
- A band anchor stud was removed by mistake when changing the transmission fluid. This is common because the fill plug and a band anchor stud are similar and close. This sets reverse band assembly free and prevents the engagement of reverse gear.
- A fractured reverse drum or worn piston that engages it usually happens when driving for a long time with the band anchor stud removed. The free-spinning generates friction and heat, deteriorating the drum and piston assembly.
Rattle or judder during accelerations
Newer Mitsubishi cars use Continuously Variable Transmissions made by Jacto. Although available in several variants, all of them share several common problems.
An intermittent or constant whining or rattling noise is one of them. This will happen only while accelerating and may even come in combination with a mild judder. There will be no other symptoms or warning lights.
- Failed primary or secondary pulley bearing. This is a well-known and frequent issue that affects most of these transmissions. Tracing down the source involves driving at the speed where the noise is the loudest before shifting into a lower ratio. If the noise changes its tone and pitch, the fault is with the primary pulley bearing. The secondary pulley bearing is a probable fault if there is no change. There are aftermarket upgraded bearings available on the market.
- Worn or failed solenoid regulator valve, resulting in low transmission fluid pressure. As this affects various solenoids’ operations, drivers may experience slippage, poor acceleration, and rattle during accelerations.
Troubleshooting Mitsubishi Transmission Problems
Most Mitsubishi automatic transmission problems are caused by easy-to-fix issues such as low transmission fluid or faulty transmission output speed sensors. The steps will help you troubleshoot the majority of Mitsubishi transmission problems.
How to Check Transmission Fluid Level
If your Mitsubishi transmission is not shifting at all, shifting late, or slips, you must first check the transmission fluid level.
- Park the vehicle on level ground when possible.
- Set the parking brakes and shifter in Park.
- Pull the hood release and open the hood.
- Locate the transmission dipstick.
- Remove the dipstick and clean it with a clean cloth.
- Reinsert the dipstick in the Transmission. Ensure the Transmission is fully inserted, then remove it.
- Look carefully at the dipstick to determine the current transmission fluid level. The level should be between MIN and MAX for the COLD (lower) markings.
- If the level is low, add the transmission fluid to the proper level.
- Drive the vehicle for fifteen minutes and select all the gears manually.
- Repeat the procedure once the transmission warm-up, but this time, the level must be between the MIN and MAX marks for the HOD (higher) markings.
Check the transmission fluid level to see if your Mitsubishi has a transmission dipstick.
Read Transmission Fault Codes
The next step is to read fault codes from the transmission control module, or what is known as the TCU. To read these codes, you will need a Transmission OBD-II Scanner. Basic code readers will not show a fault code. The YOUCANIC Full System Scanner can read and clear fault codes through every vehicle’s control module.
- Park the vehicle and turn off the ignition—set parking brakes.
- Locate the diagnostic port under the dashboard, driver’s side.
- Plug in your OBD-II scanner, then turn on the ignition without starting the engine.
- The scanner will turn on. Allow it to communicate with the vehicle—Select Mitsubishi, then your particular.
- Select Control Units, then Transmission.
- Select Read Fault Codes from the main menu.
Fault codes that show as stored status can be cleared. Any code with a present or current status needs to be addressed before you can clear that code.
Check if any open recalls or Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) exist for your Mitsubishi that affect the Transmission. Mitsubishi has issued a recall for certain vehicles equipped with CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) due to potential problems with the transmission. The recall affects specific model years and trims of Mitsubishi vehicles. The symptoms of a faulty CVT may include harsh shifting, slipping, or the transmission losing power. If you own a Mitsubishi vehicle with CVT and have experienced these issues, contact a Mitsubishi dealership to determine if your vehicle is affected by the recall and schedule a repair.
Mitsubishi Technical Service Bulletins update the Transmission’s Engine or Transmsimon control unit software. A Transmission Control Module (TCM) TSBs may program the shift solenoids and improve shift quality. The problems in this list do not affect all Mitsubishi transmissions. Mitsubishi automatic transmissions are reliable except for the 2014-2016 vehicles equipped with CVT transmissions.
The starting point is to check the basics, such as transmission fluid level and reading codes from the transmission control module. Reading the fault codes with a transmission scanner can help narrow the problem further. Internal Mitsubishi transmissions may need to be diagnosed and repaired by a transmission repair shop.
We hope you find the Troubleshooting Transmission Problems Mitsubishi CVT guide helpful. Check these troubleshooting and repair guides for more help on your Mitsubishi.
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