When I had the problem, changing the gear selector casette fixed it for me.
The symptoms were that on cold days I had to drive the car around for a while before it geared up from 1st and 2nd gear. I always thought that this was because whe transmission had to get warm (I pictured myself some worn out valve or switch that wouldn't open/switch until the system was warm).
But as ltwmyers writes, the problem was the cabin temperature, not the engine/transmission.
The clearest indication that this is your problem is that the lighting of numbers and letter on the shift module doesn't follow the position of the lever. I didn't notice this until i became aware that the problem could be the shifter module. Also, it helps that it's dark, makes i easier to se the lights.
I found that by balancing the lever between N and D i could get D to light up. When it did, the car ran as normal.
The clue seems to be that without this information the transmission doesn't know what gear it's supposed to be in and doesen't shift.
How the workshop handled it (for interested readers):
I'm from Norway, not the coldest part, but some years the winters are long and cold.
I've had the problem with the car in winterstime for many years (about 5), that is, my father who had the car before me had the problem. He had the car in a workshop two times for the same thing, but noone found the solution. When I bought the car I knew about the problem, but hadn't given it much thought. But of course having a car that had to run on idle for 10 minutes on cold days or having to rev a cold engine to get up to speed was clearly not an ideal situation.
The first workshop I went to said that they did not know what the problem was, but they could try changing the transmission fluid as it was clearly old and discolored and should be changed anyway. They could not guarantee that it would fix the problem or even help. It didn't, so they recommended that I take the car to the official dealers workshop. They also told me that the last guy they sent that way with the same problem ended up with a $2500 bill.
I actually had my car twice in the official dealers workshop.
The first time they diagnosed the car, found an old error on an ABS-sensor on my front left wheel. They cleared the error, drove the car around the block and diagnosed it again. The error hadn't come back so they said "There, we fixed it!" and charged me $220.
I tried to ask them how an ABS-sensor fault that wasn't even present (only a record in the cars log) could cause my transmission to act up. The guy tried to sell me some story about that the ABS-sensor was a speed sensor that the transmission used to calculate gear choices. When I asked him why an old, non-present error could do this, he told me that the calculations were very delicate and and that any error could mess things up.
When I asked him how this could be affected by the temperature of the car and its surroundings his imagination obviously ran dry as he had no good answer for me.
But I'm a computer engineer, not a mechanic (and he obviously was), so I felt I had to try the car before I could tell him to try something else. I drove the car out of the parking lot, and when it still hadn't geared after 500 meters, I turned around and took it back.
They agreed to take it back in and call me the next day. This time, they at least had the courtesy of telling me that they did not have a clue as to what the problem was, but that changing the MAF would be their best bet. This would cost me about $1000, and they would not charge me for the work.
So i asked them "what if it doesen't help". If so, they agreed to take it back out and put the old one back in. So two day later i was back getting my old MAF put back.
They were clearly not interested in trying to figure this problem out, so I took the car and drove home. The same night I started searching online for this problem, and within an hour I had found the threads about the gear shifter on this forum.
The next two days I did some tests on the car to see if this could be it, and shure enough it was.
I ordered the part (think it cost me about $300) and did the work myself. The next day was a cold morning, and I was very excited to find out if changing the module did the trick. The feeling of the cold car going from 1st to 2nd to 3rd, 4th and 5th without revving was fantastic. I'm not gonna rate it against becoming a father, but I was one of my proudest moments
I actually considered driving down to the dealer and telling them what the problem was, but their arrogance, lack of interest and spirit to investigate put me off.
Sooo...this became a longer reply than planned.
Anyways, I would just like to give my thanks to all the users posting their problems and solutions. In addition to saving some bucks its also a very fulfilling feeling to fix something yourself.
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