Hi Richardlammer. Welcome to the forum. Going to second gear is the default "limp-in" mode, and as you noticed, you have to restart the engine to get it out of that mode. In general, if it starts out in second gear, it is likely to be caused by a defective sensor. If it goes to limp-in during or right after an upshift, it is usually caused by slippage in the clutch packs or internal leakage past a seal.
To determine if clutch wear is the problem, a mechanic with Chrysler's DRB3 scanner can read the "clutch volume index", (CVI). That is a set of four numbers indicating the amount of fluid it takes to apply each clutch pack. A transmission expert will know what normal is and he will know how much life is left in each clutch. The problem is the computer continually updates shift points by a few milliseconds as the plates wear to always provide a nice crisp shift quality, ... Until the day comes when no amount of updating will overcome the clutch plate wear. There is no year or two of warning that the wear is taking place like we had with older hydraulically-controlled transmissions.
Your mechanic will also read any diagnostic fault codes stored in the transmission computer. They will point to a defective sensor if that is the cause of the problem. It's important to not disconnect the battery or run it dead until those codes have been read to avoid losing that valuable information.
Monday, August 23rd, 2010 AT 4:28 PM