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My 2001 VW Eurovan (T4) has automatic transmission and about 160k miles on the clock.

When I use the transmission selector to move from N to D or from N to R, there is a noticeable delay until I feel the selected gear has actually engaged. The delay is probably fairly small - less than a second, but it is more apparent than in other automatics that I have driven.

As a habit, I tend to wait carefully until I actually feel the engagement before I touch the gas pedal; If I don't wait, the engagement happens with a jolt - I don't know for sure if this is bad, but my engineering instincts tell me these kinds of jolts are not going to do any good.

A year ago I took the van to a transmission shop. They did a fluid and filter replacement. After that things felt a good deal better, but still not as good as a new car.

Do I need to worry about these symptoms?

Is this a sign of impending transmission failure?

If so, is there anything I can do to keep it healthy?

The transmission shop recommended yearly fluid and filter changes.

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As a best guess I'd suggest the transmission is doing okay. Your driving the vehicle as you have been is not only good for your Eurovan, but for any vehicle in general with an automatic transmission. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with the transmission from the way you describe things. This is just my opinion which is just based on your description. Just remember, anything is possible and your van is no spring chicken.

The best thing you can do at this point is keep up with your transmission fluid changes. These will be important as you go forward. Does that mean changing it out every year? I'll leave that up to you and your pocketbook. You do, however, want to do it at least as often as your maintenance schedule suggests.

Make it a routine maintenance item to check your fluid for quantity, smell (checking for a burnt smell), and color (ensure it stays the color it was after the change - I'm assuming red as that's the color of most tranny fluids).

The last thing to do is to ensure you pay attention to what the transmission is telling you. You need to listen and drive and know how the transmission behaves normally. If the transmission starts behaving differently, then you'll need to start worrying about it.

  • After a longer drive, I typically can smell a little bit of burnt oil smell from under the hood. I've attributed this to slow leakage from the engine, though I suppose it could be transmission oil instead. No telltale oil marks on my driveway. – Digital Trauma Jan 23 '16 at 17:05
  • Burnt oil and burnt transmission fluid smell and feel much different. I'd suggest you need to do a freshen up of the engine to seal up some of the gaskets which are leaking. Small leaks can occur when you get that many miles on an engine. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 23 '16 at 18:00

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