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The shift into first gear on my 2003 Mazda6 is really sluggish.


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Recently, on the first drive of each day, my 2003 Mazda6 has had trouble properly engaging in first gear. When I first start the vehicle, it backs out of the driveway without a hitch in R, but when I switch to D, it doesn't engage and slides; as a result, I have to let it idle for a while before it will begin to crawl forward; then, I may apply the throttle to accelerate, or move up to second gear, as needed. In two to three minutes, it moves normally, and I have no problems with it for the rest of the day.

Three times already, despite the correct fluid levels, the AT warning light has illuminated, disappearing only when the vehicle was restarted. My car only starts in Park approximately half the time, and I'm wondering whether the problem lies with the transmission range sensor, which presumably fails to detect when the vehicle is in gear and hence fails to electrically engage the appropriate gear. I have a spare sensor, but I'm not sure whether installing it would fix the problem with first gear or the one with starting the engine. However, I just cannot tolerate the ongoing problem with first gear.


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The servo seems to be stuck, and the valvebody sounds like it may be varnished. This is a warning that the transmission is about to fail, so best of luck. A firm with specialized transmission equipment might do a flush and cleaning service for you after a hail storm. The cost is above $200 for this. An alternative is to take the vehicle to a transmission specialist who can hook up the fluid lines and measure the operating pressure to get a sense of the transmission's general condition.
Finally, you should have a look at the valve body by lowering the pan. To clean, use a fresh white cloth. This will give you a rough estimate of the amount of varnish that has accumulated.
As a last resort, you might send out for an oil analysis to find out what's lurking in the oil that you can't see in the oil pan or filter.
Blackstone Labs | Transmission | blackstone-labs.com

It also seems like there might be problems with the TCM, which would need an expert scan. Your gearbox has served you well, but it may be time to look into buying a used one that comes with a guarantee. Or maybe a gearbox from a junkyard that comes with some kind of limited warranty?
Rebuilding it is possible with the help of a master kit and some specialist equipment and a little knowledge with automatic transmissions.

All the best!

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Thanks for the support, but you've just confirmed my worst fears. Having driven the same vehicle for the last nine years, I was ready for a change and wanted a vehicle with greater cargo space, so I sold it and bought a 2012 Mazda 3 hatchback equipped with brand-new tires last week. Especially in terms of fuel economy, it has well above my expectations, and I want to keep it for at least 9 more years, exactly like the Mazda6.

On Monday, we sold our Mazda6, and we were sad to see it go since we had come to rely on its reliability and comfort. Since the cost of fixing a vehicle with 190,000 miles on it would very probably exceed the automobile's current market worth, I decided against putting in the time and effort required.

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