My Pontiac has started shifting hard and sometimes taking a loooong time to find the gear. My first suspicion is that it has MDS (Multiple Driver Syndrome), so I'd like to try the cheapest option of resetting the adaptive part of the adaptive transmission. On other cars (BMW?) it's as simple as turning the key on and holding the accelerator down for 30 seconds, but this didn't seem to do anything for mine.


  • Shifts hard
  • Takes a long time to shift
  • Feels like it doesn't "engage" all the way, when starting (it feels like the clutch is slipping... but it doesn't have a clutch...)
  • Doesn't shift out of overdrive consistently

None of these happens all the time. All of them are pretty intermittent.

I'll accept instructions on how to reset the computer, and/or alternate cheap solutions.

  • 2
    I don't know if it would work, but you could always try disconnecting your battery for 30 minutes. In most cars will cause the computer(s) to reset to factory spec. It may do the trick. Feb 22, 2014 at 3:38

1 Answer 1


Most cars can be "reset" by disconnecting the battery for 20 to 30 minutes. I would caution that this is going to reset your car's clock and make the OEM radio unit ask you for a PIN code before you can use it again. Make sure you have this info before you do this. You're also going to trigger an alarm if you take too long before disconnecting the battery (10 seconds from taking your key out of the ignition in most cars. Don't panic, it's normal. Just use your alarm remote or "unlock" your car buy turning the key in the driver's door lock.

But I would also caution you to have your transmission fluid level checked. Transmissions struggle to engage and shift rough when the levels get low or the fluid gets old and dirty. Software will usually do a good job of shifting correctly, even if the shifts are a bit slow for your liking.

  • That's really good information, but that's also really disappointing, because I've done all of those things recently (including disconnecting the battery) ;-) Which seems to indicate a bigger problem. It got a little better when I had the transmission serviced by the dealer (including a fluid change, supposedly), but it never went totally away and it's back to its old shenanigans after just a few months. Checked the fluid level since then, and it was okay.
    – Matt
    Feb 23, 2014 at 15:29
  • Additionally, I would always like it to shift faster ;-) But by "long" I mean more than 1 second. I might be wrong, but I don't think it's ever appropriate for an automatic transmission to take more than half-a-second (unless you're doing something dumb like shifting into neutral with the engine revved, or shifting into drive/reverse before the car has stopped moving).
    – Matt
    Feb 23, 2014 at 15:43
  • 1
    I'm not an expert on automatic transmissions, so I can't really give you any more advice. All that's left is to have an expert take a look. Preferably someone you can trust. Feb 24, 2014 at 7:33

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