1998 Pontiac Grand Am, 4cyl, 120K miles, automatic transmission. My car will reverse fine out of my driveway and when I shift to drive it works just great. However, when I'm already in drive and need to stop for a light or to turn, I begin to accelerate & it won't go into 1st gear. The car will just roll and you can hear the engine working fine, but the tranmission won't shift. I can't even shift down to 1st gear manually, it physically isn't possible to move the gearshift to #1 (although I can to 2nd & 3rd). The only way I can get it to drive at that point is to go into neutral & then into drive & it will shift a little hard, but works fine. So, is it okay to drive my car this way or will it screw it up worse? Secondly, is this something that is repairable or am I looking at getting another tranny? Thanks guys!
It may be time to have the transmission rebuilt, or it could be something messed with your shifter link cable (rock, pothole, rust, etc). Without physically seeing the vehicle it is hard to tell.
I would borrow a friends scan tool, or take it into a transmission shop to have the codes read. They will be able to tell you why the transmission is acting up. It will cost anywhere from $30 to $60 to have the prelim diagnostics ran, and at that point ask them for a written quote. They are required by law to provide you with one before beginning repairs, and have you sign it. Don't sign it, but take it with you! Tell them you want to think it over. Go home and make phone calls!
Use your first repair estimate to get ballpark figures from other shops in your area. 45 minutes on the phone could litterally save you hundreds of dollars on transmission repairs! : )
Oh, rolling shifts into drive from neutral are likely to mess things up worse.