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Oldsmobile Calais -145k Worth fixing?

armageddonarmageddon Member Posts: 4
edited April 2014 in Oldsmobile
Where did my message go?!!!!!! (Why were my first two messages deleted? Now I have to type my problem all over again!)

I have an '87 Olds Calais V6 auto.
It has 145,700 miles on it.

Here's the problem:
After I drive for a little while (probably only 20 miles at this point), and then slow down from 35mph or above, sometimes the car will shake/studder, and then when slowed down, will die out. It will start back up fine, but as soon as I put it in gear, it dies out again. I've tried to give it some gas in neutral, and then switch into drive, but it just jumps forward and stops (similar to how it jerks when driving a manual, and not giving enough gas when letting off the clutch)
If I let it sit for a few minutes, it eventually goes into gear without quitting, and I can drive it.....at least until I have to slow down again.

I talked to a mechanic and he said it's the TCC (transaxle converter clutch) solenoid. With parts and labor it would be over $300, maybe $400.
Does anyone have any idea about this?
He said that only from what I told him, so...I don't know...
Also, I have trouble code 44 coming up, which is the oxygen sensor/lean exhaust code, but I don't know if that would be it, maybe that's yet another problem.
Thanks for your time.


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    alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Armageddon, your symptoms are exactly like a stuck TCC solenoid. Sounds like your mechanic's on the right track but the price sounds high. Suggest you get quotes from a couple of reputable transmission shops.
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    armageddonarmageddon Member Posts: 4
    A solenoid "shouldn't" be hard to replace, should it?
    .....but that depends on it's location, I guess.
    Is it possible to do this work myself?

    (seems unlikely, considering the mechanic said he doubted anyone around could do the work(he's ASE certified and says he know all the guys in the shops around here)...but maybe he was just saying that)
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    kruzer1kruzer1 Member Posts: 7
    I have a high milage '92 Pontiac Bonneville with the "other" common TCC problem. Torque Converter Clutches in some GM auto trannies can develop one of two problems. The less crippling is when the TCC is sluggish to engage. This can cause noise and vibration or a shudder as the clutch is trying to engage, as is the problem with my Bonneville. The other, and more crippling problem is a TCC that will not disengage as the vehicle slows to a stop. It has the same effect as stopping a manual transmission car without depressing the clutch pedal -- the engine stops. This is the problem with your Olds. Both problems can be caused by defective solenoids or a worn TCC assembly. One mechanic told me my problem is more likely caused by internal wear and your problem is more likely the solenoid, but the opposite can also happen.

    O.K., so what did I do about it? Well, with the mileage on my Pontiac there was little point to paying for the extensive labor to remove the transaxle and repair or replace the torque converter and clutch without doing a total rebuild of the transmission. This was the universal recommendation of the people I talked with --"Rebuild the whole thing." Like you I hesitated at the expense, especially since my car was still fully drivable and, other than the occasional shudder, the transmission worked fine. I asked a transmission shop if it was possible to "pull the wire" that engaged the TCC and just drive the car without it ever engaging. (I knew that on earlier TCC designs it was just a single wire connected to the TCC.) He said it was part of a large harness and trying to run the car that way would "tear up the transmission". This didn't make sense to me, as the clutch won't engage at all until the engine is fully warmed up. Even then it only engages at cruising speed and will disengage at the most modest of acceleration. I went to the library and did some research of my own. After looking through several manuals I found one that showed a detaled wiring diagram for my car. It showed the exact wire on the transmission harness that controlled the TCC. I found the wire, cut it, and installed a quick connect so I can reconnect it any time I want to. Presto! The TCC never engages and my shudder no longer occurs. I've since talked with another mechanic and he assured me this would not harm the transmission itself in any way (as I thought as well) and the only ill effect would be to fuel economy. I did note an immediate drop in strict highway fuel economy of 2 to 3 miles per gallon. the effect on combined city/highway or all city driving is negligable, again, all as I would expect. The only other "problem" is that every time the computer calls for the TCC to engage, it detects that it doesn't and momentarily lights the "service engine soon" light on the dash.

    I share all of this only to give you a low cost alternative to think about. It is at your own risk. Remember, one shop did warn that this type of "band-aid" would be harmful to the transmission. I figured I had nothing to loose and the car has been running with the TCC disabled for about twenty thousand miles so far with no further problem. As for the slightly reduced fuel economy, well it will take one heck of a lot of driving to have that even begin to approach the cost of a new transmission. Good luck!
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    armageddonarmageddon Member Posts: 4
    Wow, thanks a lot. Actually, I looked up the TCC solenoid online, and found a couple sites that describe how to replace it. I'm thinking about doing it.
    Couldn't you have just disconnected the electrical connector? I don't know...I'm referring to the one on this page:
    Click here
    Or would that mess up the whole transmission?
    Well, I could at least try to replace the solenoid. That page has a good explanation for a Monte Carlo SS, and I know an Olds won't be "much" different. (except for way more oil and dirt on the bottom of the pan, lol)
    Thanks for you response, and tell me if you think I should try this.
    The parts and tools would add up to less than $100, and I'd still have a cool oil change pump(refer to bottom of that web page).
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    alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    the link you provided shows a 200-4R rear wheel drive transmission. Your vehicle is equipped with a front wheel drive transaxle. The TCC solenoid on yours is located behind the valve body cover on the left (driver's) side of the vehicle.

    read post #'s 440, 450, 452, 453, and especially 460 in Transmission Trauma topic area. You might have been driving for 20,000 miles with the TCC disabled because your car needs spark plug wires. That's the #1 cause of perceived converter clutch shudder with G.M. 3.8 and 3800 engines.
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    kruzer1kruzer1 Member Posts: 7
    Make certain of the exact transaxle you have and have the correct documentation before you try anything. I couldn't just unplug my harness as that would disable control of my electronically controlled transmission. Good luck and let us know your final outcome.

    Thanks very much for the references above. When my trouble first started I changed plugs and wires on the advice of the transmission shop. I then had the car "scope checked" and checked for any error codes. Everything checked O.K. I'm not sure if the computer in my '92 stores a code for misfires. I thought it would, but I'm not sure. I found the post about aftermarket wires most interesting, as that's what I installed. I thing they're MSW. Maybe it would be worth trying a new GM set. My symptoms don't quite jive with the other posts in the following ways:
    My "shudder" lasts only momentarily as the TCC locks up. --maybe 1 to 2 seconds. Once it's locked there is no further disturbance, even at low speed and very low RPM. Anything that causes the TCC to unlock and then relock (like a quick tap on the brake) causes the momentary shudder to re-occur. Also, the problem is actually more pronounced at higher speeds. At 65 to 70 MPH, say after making a pass, the engagement really shakes and you can visably see the needle on the tach bounce up and down a bit. Again this lasts for a little over a second and then all is smooth until the next time the TCC cycles. This led me to believe it is actually the clutch being sluggish to engage. What do you think? Thanks!
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    alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    kruzer1, first it's good to hear that the trans shop initially went with the plugs & wires instead of selling you a rebuild/replacement converter. That's been known to happen. Re stored misfire history codes, only OBD-II vehicles (late '95 and newer) have that capability. Re the shudder, I'd still lean toward wires. I've encountered it numerous times. Even new aftermarket wires may not correct the condition as at least one poster in Transmission Trauma found out. Considering the cost, I'd replace them with new Delco's making sure the metal heat shields are in place on the 3 rear bank wire boots. Also verify the output of the coils. If that fails to correct the shudder then it'd be time to take a closer look at the converter clutch and it's control circuit. It is a possibility but it's less likely than secondary ignition breakdown.
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    afrikandoafrikando Member Posts: 4
    Wow--I can't believe it! This is the very problem I'm having with 1990 Cutlass Calais (31K miles). Drives fine (both city and highway) but, twice in the last two months, I come to a stop, the car shudders and stalls out. It starts up just fine but stalls again as soon as I change gears. The first time this happened, I thought it might have overheated (naturally, I know nothing about cars). I had it towed into my garage. They said my radiator sensor was screwy and to blame for overheating, they dinked around with it and the electrical system and charged me $400. It drove fine until last night (actually 3:30 this morning, thank you) when it died again. My tow truck driver suggested that the TCC switch was probably to blame (he had two FWD GM cars in the 80's).

    Anyway, I've read the posts here and wonder what I should do. I cannot do the work myself. Does anyone have advice as to how much this repair should cost and how I can know for sure that this is the problem? Also, should I go to a transmission specialist for the repair or can most mechanics do it? I live in Seattle. Thanks.
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    alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Your question has been answered in "95 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Problems" topic.
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    armageddonarmageddon Member Posts: 4
    (I'm the one that started this discussion)
    Sounds like the TCC solenoid. I'm going to change mine myself. Not worth the $$$$$$ to have someone else do it.
    I don't know a whole lot about cars, but I've done quite a few repairs(fuel pump, wheel bearing, alternator, starter, fuel filter)
    The problem is, I took insurance off my car when I got a new one. I still want to fix it, but I can't do it on my 45 degree angle driveway in my trailer park.
    I guess I'll have to put insurance on it for a day or two, and drive over behind Autozone LOL, when I have a day to spare, that is.
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    dweezildweezil Member Posts: 271
    I had and wound up paying 900.00 for a re-bult trans. [I didn't need most likely] and my [now my parent's]86 Calais. Both 2.5 litre, 3 speed auto.
    They disconnected the damn thing. I had the dealer give an estimate:500 dollars. My folks have also had no problem and the thing seems to have better pick up with out the lock-up.
    I hear this all the time on Leon Kaplan's KABC radio car repair show and it's always the same thing:defective or corroded torque converter switch.Seems to be a common problem.
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    glmc2000glmc2000 Member Posts: 1
    I had the same identical problem (symptoms were like re living my frustations over again). Replaced lock up solenoid at local Goodyear service center for a total tab of $311.77 ($65 was for the tow). May car had 81040 miles on it when the lock up went bad.

    Best Wishes and luck to you.
This discussion has been closed.