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Old 10-27-2012, 10:20 PM
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Scary Near Miss: Has anyone else experienced this?

The wife and I took the 2010 SRT8 for a nice cruise around northern Arizona today. For a period of time we were on a curvy stretch of 2-lane road with varying degrees of graded inclines and declines. We were cruising between 40-65 mph using auto-stick to prevent excessive heating of the brakes as the car in front of us (looked like about an 08 Impala) was standing on the brakes constantly.

When the curves stopped, the car in front of us was having trouble keeping up with the 65 mph speed limit. There was a clear opportunity for an easy pass to the left (passing allowed) so I accelerated and realized the transmission did not kick down. I still had the shifter in auto-stick in 5th gear which did not allow the automatic kick down. I had already bypassed the Impala, but only slightly and did not want to cut it off. At this point I see a pair of motorcycles coming at me about a mile away.

Instead of just downshifting the auto-stick to 4th and easily pulling further ahead and moving safely over to the right, for some reason I decided to select neutral then back to drive to turn off the auto-stick feature. However, when I did this since I saw the oncoming traffic approaching, I must have panicked somewhat and kept my foot in the gas when I hit neutral. What occurred immediately after this was downright scary:

I put the shifter in drive which should have given me immediate response (looking back it should have been like a rolling neutral drop), but that's not what happened. What did happen is I lost control of my transmission, it went into some sort of electronic "safe mode".

For all practical purposes I was freewheeling, coasting towards oncoimg traffic at 72 mph with a car about 10 feet to the right rear of my right 1/4 panel. I tried shifting between neutral and drive again, tried auto-stick, nothing. NOTHING!

By now I have drifted in front of the Impala, whose driver must think I'm insane. The engine was running, no warning messages, engine temp fine, I could rev the engine and watch tach jump but had no transmission response. Gear indicator clearly showed "D". I drifted onto the shoulder and stopped safely. My wife is shocked, thinking I blew the tranny using the auto-stick.

I placed it in park, shut the engine, restarted the engine, placed the shifter in drive and took off. EVERYTHING IS NORMAL again. Obviously the transmission (maybe actually the PCM or TCM) must have gone into some sort of "reduced power" or "safe mode" to protect the engine when I left the gas in it when I put the shifter in neutral. WOW this was kind of unexpected and scary, especially when the engine was revved in the neutral shift for only a split second.

Has anyone else ever experienced anything similar to this?!?

Last edited by damule56; 11-26-2012 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 10-27-2012, 11:40 PM
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I doubt many others have experienced that since shifting into N while driving down the road at 70+ MPH isn't something that most people would do, consider it a learning experience. The PCM did it to protect the transmission. You don't shift into N to get out of autostick, next time just hold the shifter to the + side for a couple of seconds and it will change back into full auto mode.

Glad you all made it without incident, one heck of a way to learn what not to do. Bet you don't do that again!
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Old 10-28-2012, 12:23 AM
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you hit what is referred to as "limp mode"
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Old 10-28-2012, 08:21 AM
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Thanks for the quick responses. I appreciate the info about auto-stick operation, I did not know that. And yes, that was a learning experience; and no, I will not go through that ever again!
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Old 10-28-2012, 09:46 AM
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You lucked out on that one. I'd suggest spending some time reading your owner's manual so you will know how everything works before the critical moment hits.
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Old 10-28-2012, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by waumo View Post
You lucked out on that one. I'd suggest spending some time reading your owner's manual so you will know how everything works before the critical moment hits.

Excellent advice. I've had many vehicles with auto-sticks, paddle shifters, etc and some operate different than others. When I purchased the SRT8, the salesmen instructed me that this was the way to cancel auto-stick mode and it worked. Therefore, I never questioned it or reviewed it in the owner's manual.

What I do still find somewhat surprising is how quickly the PCM went into "limp mode" when this occurred.
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:10 PM
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It's stuff like this why I don't like "modern" technology sometimes. Take a basic operation like an automatic trans shifter, make it something really fancy, til you can't operate it in a panic situation like this. Leave well enough alone - like the old Slap Stick shifters. There was no doubt when I pulled my '71 Hemi Charger into "2" what the trans was going to do. Luckily we bought a manual, so my wife & I know how to control it. Glad you make it out of this situation without a bad incident!
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by damule56 View Post
When I purchased the SRT8, the salesmen instructed me that this was the way to cancel auto-stick mode and it worked. Therefore, I never questioned it or reviewed it in the owner's manual.
NEVER, NEVER trust a salesman, 99% of them don't know squat about what they are selling. Another thing about auto-stick is if your in D and push it to the right it will go into auto-stick in the same gear your currently in, if you push to the left it downshifts one gear.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:51 PM
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All the above responses are exactly right.

I never did what you did, but was a little confused by AutoStick at first and have done the Neutral-to-Drive maneuver before, but once at a complete stop. The transmission is not to be placed in N at speed. Thank God it's smart enough to protect itself, but limp mode isn't fun nor safe for you.
I've punched it on the freeway and got nothing too, which is what happens when your brain, in an emergency, is incapable of coming up with a quick answer about in which mode you are. Sometimes I've also revved the engine more than I'd wanted after a stop in first because I expected the tranny to shift when it won't unless hitting redline in manual mode. Rookie mistakes.

I'm not sure it's so much the user manual that you need rather than practice. AutoStick mode is awesome but all its quirks have to be turned into muscle memory. I agree with Powerstick's statement about modern technology (it can get too cerebral), but before you give up on the manual mode experiment with it some more. I guarantee you that the proper action (dropping 1 or even 2 gears by hand) would've given you blazing acceleration. Now, waiting for the tranny to kick down when in D feels like an eternity for me.

And if I'm not mistaken (went into limp mode once), what the tranny does is lock in 2nd and limit the rpm so that you can coast somewhere and stop, shut off the engine for 10 seconds, then restart.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:12 PM
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My daughter and I play around with "hyper-miling" in the truck and some of our other vehicles. She tried it once in the Challenger and NEVER AGAIN! You are supposed to "hyper-mile" using a manual tranny by pushing in the clutch when going downgrade and letting the engine sit at idle until you go back "uphill" again. then engage the clutch and give it the gas it needs until you reach the top and glide again. Well........our vehicles are all automatics and in the truck it is easy to shift into neutral and then back again into DRIVE at speed. It handles it beautifully and we have done it for years. We NEVER do it with any vehicles behind us at all. Well, soon after getting the Challenger, she did the same thing.........Whoooooops! She said it scared her and she had to pull over. Put it in Drive and all was well. Definitely the same thing but not in as critical of a situation as you experienced. glad all is well.
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