Problem: You pull up to a light after cruising down the road for a few miles and the engine stops dead. You put it into park and it starts just fine. Drop it into drive and it stalls dead. What's going on here??
The problem of your stalling unexpectedly can have many causes. This discussion has to do with one cause for stalling, the transmission converter lock-up clutch.
A converter lock-up clutch is used to prevent any "slipping" of the fluid coupling effect that all automatic transmissions use to connect the engine to the transmission. This clutch is supposed to lock the converter when you are at highway speed as well as many other criteria. The problem occurs when that clutch fails to disengage as you slow down and then stop. The result is that the engine stalls dead - just like it would if you were to come to a complete stop with a standard transmission without depressing the clutch!!
Yanking the wire on the side of the transmission is one "solution" which is used, however there is a risk that you may cause the tranny to overheat. All transmissions that have lock-up converters are designed to lock at higher speeds. The fluid will heat up excessively under high speed driving loads, while pulling a heavy load or travelling on hilly highways. Your best bet is to go to a tranny shop and have the lock-up solenoid inside the transmission replaced.
For more in-depth discussion of this topic go here.
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