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Checking with the collective wisdom of the board for ideas. I have put about 1500 miles on my 2013 12C spider in my 3 months of ownership (awesome car). Three times the car has dropped out of gear into neutral and I have no idea why. All three times it was within the first 5-10 min of the drive, cool weather in the 40’s and I had it in automatic normal mode to let the car warm up. Latest time was this morning, pulled out of the driveway onto the street, drove a couple of hundred yards and it dropped into neutral. Annoying since I have to come to a stop to get it back in drive.

It has never happened in my usual sport manual mode. My hands nor anything else was close to the neutral button. There is no noise when it happens. No CEL or warning light. Kevin (ima2nr) will be doing some work to it soon and he had me check if the buttons were sticky (they seem normal). I am also planning to have him change the clutch fluid and filter. Transmission fluid was changed last year.

Any ideas? Low clutch fluid? Faulty D, N or R buttons? A shift solenoid of some sort? Thanks in advance for your help.
 

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I wasn’t looking at the dash when it happened but based upon speed and automatic normal mode maybe 4th or 5th? After it happens the dash indicates I am in neutral as it should.
 

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Checking with the collective wisdom of the board for ideas. I have put about 1500 miles on my 2013 12C spider in my 3 months of ownership (awesome car). Three times the car has dropped out of gear into neutral and I have no idea why. All three times it was within the first 5-10 min of the drive, cool weather in the 40’s and I had it in automatic normal mode to let the car warm up. Latest time was this morning, pulled out of the driveway onto the street, drove a couple of hundred yards and it dropped into neutral. Annoying since I have to come to a stop to get it back in drive.

It has never happened in my usual sport manual mode. My hands nor anything else was close to the neutral button. There is no noise when it happens. No CEL or warning light. Kevin (ima2nr) will be doing some work to it soon and he had me check if the buttons were sticky (they seem normal). I am also planning to have him change the clutch fluid and filter. Transmission fluid was changed last year.

Any ideas? Low clutch fluid? Faulty D, N or R buttons? A shift solenoid of some sort? Thanks in advance for your help.
I never drive in automatic mode so I have no point of reference in how it operates, but when it happens are you hard accelerating or no? I'd guess when you're harder accelerating it shifts at higher points on it's own, which when cold may be the issue. It may simply be a fluid viscosity problem.
 

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How many miles are on it? The clutch and gearbox are separate in terms of fluid and servicing. My old 14 12C was serviced at 4 years and 20k miles and both the clutch and gearbox were pretty dark in terms of color and low. A fresh service if neither have ever been done at this point is probably the best starting point.
 

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I wasn’t looking at the dash when it happened but based upon speed and automatic normal mode maybe 4th or 5th? After it happens the dash indicates I am in neutral as it should.
Does it downshift thru the gears 4-3-2-1-N or just drop straight to neutral?
 

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Annoying since I have to come to a stop to get it back in drive.
You should be able to pull back on right shift paddle to put back in gear as long as you aren't going too fast (would likely shift into 1st gear)
without coming to stop.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Answering the questions, no hard acceleration since the car was not completely warmed up and it was cold outside. All three times on residential streets and I was slowly accelerating. Unless I am in heavy traffic I am in manual and driving more “spiritedly” when the car is warmed up. This is happening when the car is in auto mode and not warmed up. So, could be a fluid viscosity issue particularly if fluid is low. I got the car with 9500 miles, has almost 11,000 now. It does not downshift, it is just suddenly in neutral which I notice because when I am stepping on the accelerator the engine revs as it does when you are in neutral. Very strange, hopefully just a clutch fluid issue.

Thanks for the last tip, I will keep that in mind.
 

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I would certainly check the transmission fluid level, I have my doubts the clutch fluid is related.
 

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All three times it was within the first 5-10 min of the drive, cool weather in the 40’s and I had it in automatic normal mode to let the car warm up. Latest time was this morning, pulled out of the driveway onto the street, drove a couple of hundred yards and it dropped into neutral.
Common issue when the fluids are too cold. If this is the same issue, the N drop is normally accompanied by the car automatically applying the parking brake. You might want to allow the car to warm up longer after it has been sitting outside for a while in the cold.
 

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Common issue when the fluids are too cold. If this is the same issue, the N drop is normally accompanied by the car automatically applying the parking brake. You might want to allow the car to warm up longer after it has been sitting outside for a while in the cold.
I HAVE had the parking brake re-apply itself time over time when it's not warm enough, but I always drive in manual so I haven't had it kick out. Just reinforcing that portion of how to tell, the car is trying to tell you something.
 

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Common issue when the fluids are too cold. If this is the same issue, the N drop is normally accompanied by the car automatically applying the parking brake. You might want to allow the car to warm up longer after it has been sitting outside for a while in the cold.
Thanks! It is garaged but the garage is not heated. I will let it warm up in the garage longer on cold days. Appreciate the insight!
 

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Thanks! It is garaged but the garage is not heated. I will let it warm up in the garage longer on cold days. Appreciate the insight!
When my garage is below 45 degrees I think is when I notice the parking brake engagement, rarely happens so I can't find the consistency. It stops doing it when the water temp starts showing anything on the gauge. That may be related though I wouldn't expect the transmission to be warm enough at that point.
 

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I have always heard that it is better to warm up a cold car by driving it slowly instead of letting it idle but now I might have to rethink that assumption. Luckily most of the cold weather is behind me now.
 

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I have always heard that it is better to warm up a cold car by driving it slowly instead of letting it idle but now I might have to rethink that assumption. Luckily most of the cold weather is behind me now.
I believed that warming up an engine static was the right thing to do but have been told warming up is better in motion. I come from classic cars where for years I have warmed the cars while sitting. Not sure what the best way is but it seems for modern cars a slow warm up while the car is in motion is the over riding preference.
 

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I have always heard that it is better to warm up a cold car by driving it slowly instead of letting it idle but now I might have to rethink that assumption. Luckily most of the cold weather is behind me now.
I think there is some misunderstanding on what "warm up" means. Are we talking registering on the gauge, or to running temperature? I have a van that below 55 degrees will NEVER get to running temperature, leave it idling all day and it won't do it.
 

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The recommendation to warm up while driving slowly was to reduce wastage of fuel. If you leave parked while warming you should still drive slowly until the entire drive train has some heat in it. 5 miles is plenty.
 

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I think there is some misunderstanding on what "warm up" means. Are we talking registering on the gauge, or to running temperature? I have a van that below 55 degrees will NEVER get to running temperature, leave it idling all day and it won't do it.
You might need to replace the thermostat.
 

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You might need to replace the thermostat.
I did, and actually went to a higher temperature to make the heat work better. It never overheats or budges past where it should, the fan is set to 200 I think and it seldom comes on other than peak of summer. When it does it's on a few seconds and turns off. It just stays cool like a boss when not under load of towing or hauling. I did some upgrades since it used to haul 1,000 lbs over payload every day.
 
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