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2002 V6 Dakota w/ 42RE. Engine is great, but the transmission is a mess. I only have reverse, 1st and 2nd. They all feel strong in each gear. If I have it in Drive, the transmission starts in 2nd. It also won't shift up or down. I can manually shift it to 1st and start in 1st. I have to shift all the way to drive to get it to upshift to 2nd. The shift from first to second and back (done manually) is very smooth. To verify I'm in 1st and 2nd, here are the speed/rpm I have:

1st-Approx 1700rpm at 25mph
2nd-approx 1600rpm at 35mph
2nd-approx 2300rpm at 50mph

I believe 1 or more shift/transmission solenoids are bad. I have already changed the fluid/filter. The fluid looked pretty decent and didn't smell bad. I really don't want to get a rebuilt transmission as I am trying to keep the investment cost down. My thought is to buy the solenoid kit (I've seen them around $175-$200) and replace everything. Before I do that, I was hoping someone may have had similar experiences and/or could offer any advise. I look forward to your responses. Thanks.
 

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My 03 did that once. Had to replace the Governor Pressure switch and solenoid. It would start off in 2nd or 3rd gear, so you had to manually upshift. Down shifting was fine.
 
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