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Transmission Traumas?

Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,020
You've got that new, or new to you, vehicle and
the transmission needs to be rebuilt/replaced
already?? Here's the place to discuss the problems
and fixes.

KarenS/Edmund's host

Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email,, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.



  • sam775sam775 Posts: 22
    Hello all. I have a 96 Neon with 25,400+ miles on it. It's the 3 speed (argh) auto and I have the base engine. Well, I serviced my transmission at 15k just as the owner's manual suggested. Now at 25K it appears I need service again (hesitation in shifting gears) 5k short of 30K the next suggested service. Does this seem unusual to anyone else besides me? I do mostly city driving. I've read how Chrysler vehicles tend to have transmission problems (which if I had known at the time I would have brought that Civic, Protege or Escort I was considering). Should this be a concern? I'm getting it done this weekend and if there is cause for concern I want the dealer to be aware of this problem in case something happens after the bumper to bumper warranty expires (7-99). I have an extended warranty, but if it's a known problem to Chrysler, I feel I shouldn't have to pay the $50 deductible in case my tranny goes snap, crackle & pop.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Do not hesitate to mention this to your dealer. 30K is far too early for a transmission to be experiencing late-shift problems. How is your transmission oil?
  • mazzocmazzoc Posts: 1
    I have a 1984 VW Rabbit with an Auto trans. The car vibrates quite a bit when I shift into reverse at idle. The fluid looks good and the engine idles smoothly. There is no vibration in park or neutral. I had a Jetta with a newly rebuilt trans that did the same thing. Is there something I can do to eliminate or reduce the vibration?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Dear Mazzoc....this doesn't sound transmission related, maybe motor or transmission mounts would be my guess. The early Rabbits are edgy cars to begin with, and the auto trans. setup isn't the very best design, so you may have to just live with certain things. But by all means, have the mounts checked--they crack or get eaten up by oil, etc.

    Dear Sam....that Neon trans does not sound encouraging...another service might help, but it sounds like some of the valving is sticking or perhaps there is an internal leak. Sometimes all you can do is just wait and see.


  • I have a 1998 Dodge Datota 4wd extended cab,
    v6 with transmission problems. Dealer wants to
    fix instead of replace. I want a new transmission.
    Dealer says No becuz the problem has to be 80%
    bad. We feel we bought a new truck and also a new
    tranmission. Doesn't that allow us to have a new
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Dear jfbrice....very often, an automatic transmission malfunctions because of some little rinky-dink part, or maybe just an internal seal. Unless the trans has literally self-destructed in smoke and flame, there's no reason to have a new one...they can just break yours down and replace the malfunctioning parts. It's really more like asking to have the engine replaced because a hydraulic lifter is sticking.

    If they fix the trans and it happens again, well, then you can start talking new maybe and it's possible they'll go along. But right now I doubt the factory would authorize a complete replacement.


  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Not necessarily. The dealer, if it supplies a warranty transmission, has to send the old transmission into the factory for credit on the new one. If the factory finds that the transmission could've been fixed by the dealer, then the dealer won't get credit for the part (I believe this is how it works). You can see why the dealer is eager to fix, rather than replace the transmission. I think that if you go to get the transmission fixed (under warranty), and the problem recurs, you may have a better case for a new transmission.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    mr. s slipped in there!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Well, gus, at least we said the same thing!


  • My 93 firebird doesn't properly shift into fourth gear. One mechanic said to disconnect my battery so that the computer could reset itself, another says to look into having it replaced. Can these trannys be repaired or am I looking at replacement? Thanks.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    Well, is it a standard or automatic? (I'm guessing automatic). Is the fourth gear an overdrive setting, one that can be controlled by a switch?
  • lapislapis Posts: 1
    My tranny died! Went to back up and no Reverse. Just sits there and makes a whirring noise...(like your tires are spinning when you are stuck in the snow)
    Mazda 323 '89 automatic overdrive 1.6l.
    I called local mechanics and much to my dismay I was quoted an average of $1900 to replace it. Parts and labor.
    The car has 124000 miles, needs a timing belt replaced and a valve cover gasket. (again!!! =( )

    All of this work is way outside of my price range. Any suggestions on what to do? Should I just have it towed to a local junk yard or what?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Either that, lapis, or get a good used tranny to put in, but I wouldn't spend more than $500 parts and labor....better to put the money toward a new(used) car for $2,500 or so, if you need basic wheels that won't break down.


  • C13C13 Posts: 390
    Hey guys, here's one I've wondered about for years.

    Overdrive -

    What is meant by "electric" overdrive? What are the other kinds?

    Is this one of those cases where the wrong term was adopted and then became the standard term? It seems to me that any ratio greater than 1:1 (that is, any time you're gearing "up"), is an overdrive gear. By this definition, a lot of cars' top gear is an overdrive.

    What is the difference between a 5-speed trans (with greater than 1:1 top gear) and a 4-speed with overdrive?
  • wpeng1wpeng1 Posts: 12
    I am confuse too, I guess overdrive is sth can keep the gear shifting at high rpm to avoid damage to engine and tranny, when the car is over loaded.
    Is that right?
  • The firebird is an automatic. I don't know how the overdrive is controlled. I'm assuming it's electric or computer driven since a mechanic told me to disconnect the battery to let my car "reset itself."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Originally, and technically still, i guess, overdrive was a separate (planetary)gearset of sorts, so you could have an overdrive gear not only in top gear but also some of the lower gears. My old MGB was electrically operated, but I could get 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd overdrive, 4th and 4th it could be used like a 6-speed transmission.

    Now, most 5th gears on a 5-speed is an "overdrive" gear. I haven't had the automatic overdrives apart so i don't know much about how they work, but I don't think it's a oomplete additional gearset...I'd need to hit the books and look at some diagrams. Maybe someone can save me the trouble?


  • gusgus Posts: 254
    On Volvos, I know that the 5-speed transmission, where you actually shift into 5th gear, rather than press a button to activate the overdrive, is a single transmission, without a planetary add-on. I'm not saying this is true of all 5-speed transmissions, but on a Volvo it is.
  • C13C13 Posts: 390

    To my mechanically naive brain it seems an inelegant solution. I can't see the sense of 2 ranges of 3rd and 2 of 4th. Why not just build a 5 or 6-speed?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Well, back in those days to design and build an entirely new 5-speed was expensive...this way, you just add a unit onto the original three or four speed...a different tail shaft housing. The overdrive in the 3rd gear of a 4 speed was not intended, it's just something you got for free...often, like with jaguar or mg or volvo (1960s, early 70s) they'd only allow you to flip into overdrive in 4th gear, but you could easily by-pass that. On AMerican cars, typical overdrive was activated in the 50s & 60s by a cable under the dashboard..this worked with the typical 3-speed column shift of cars of that era. I don't recall any 4-speed American overdrives.

    Five speeds were rare in the 60s...mostly the exotic Italian cars had them, and that was about it. It was really the Japanese who made them commonplace.


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