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This has happened three times now, and it's definitely becoming worrisome. While driving on the highway, the check engine light comes on. Nothing seems to be wrong initially, until I exit the highway. Once I come to a stop, the car stops shifting out of first. I can shift to neutral or reverse, but drive won't shift out of first, and manually shifting to "3" has no effect either.

However, every time it's happened, after leaving the car to cool for a few hours, the engine light goes away, and the transmission begins shifting normally again.

Is there anything I can check myself before resorting to bringing it to a shop?

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It sounds like it is going into "limp home" mode. This might be due to your transmission overheating (thus when it cools down, the problem goes away). You can have your codes read and see if there is anything which leads you in the right direction. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 14 '14 at 18:45

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