2005 Scion TC automatic transmission never actually goes into D (drive), but goes right into 3 even though the gear shift lever is in the D position. The P R N D 3 2 L indicator on the dashboard has the 3 illuminated when the actual gear shift lever is in either D or 3 position.
Indeed after driving the car, it really is in 3 and not D -- the RPMs run a bit higher than expected and shifting between 3 and D have no effect. It always stays in 3. All the other gears work fine. It is only the D position that reverts to 3. I jiggled the shifter quite a bit between D and 3 positions and could never get it into D.
Does this sound like a transmission problem or some type of simple switch problem with the gear shifter? The D and 3 are very close to each other (you simple move the shift lever horizontal less than an inch to go from D to 3 -- see pic below).
How is the gear shift lever connected to the transmission? Is it a physical cable or are there electronic switches in the shift lever that go to the computer? I’m going to take the gear shift apart this weekend to investigate further.