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Chevy Suburban Transmission Problems

I own an '88 Suburban, and I have posted here before. Now, I have a transmission problem. Does a transmission that "whines" in the morning when it's cold mean that the transmission is failing? It also doesn't want to shift out of reverse and into drive, or out of first into second. Once the vehicle warms up, the whine fades away into only whining at the top of every gear, until it is completely warmed up. Once it's warm, the transmission shifts perfectly, and the whine completely ceases. It doesn't slip the slightest bit, but it does however, like to kick back into first when turning left, causing it to surge forward, and depending on how fast I'm accelerating, kick the rear end loose and I fishtail some. This all started about a week ago, when my area got the sudden cold weather.


  • I have the push button 4WD and when I engage the 4WD and drive it for 1-2 miles the service 4x4 light comes on but I still have 4WD. But I cannot disengage the 4WD until I turn off the truck for a few minutes then re-start it and it will then dis-engage. Anyone?

  • My 2000 suburban tends to shift hard between 3rd and 4th gear when the transmission is warm. I can drive for 10-15 minutes with smooth shifts but as soon as the transmission warms up I get this problem especially between 3rd and 4th. It only happens after I have accelerated and releases the pedal. It immediately shifts hard. Almost always between 3rd and 4th gear, but on rare occasions (months apart) it can happen on lower gears as well.

    I'm not sure what happens when the transmission warms up that could make this happen. Any ideas?
    It feels like the transmission misses a shift and on the next turn it locks into position really hard and abrubt.
  • 96burb96burb Posts: 1
    My suburban has had 3 transmissions,the one it came out with, and one replaced under factory warrenty both of these with the first owner. The second transmission came out on me at 180,000 and my replacement came out at 240,000. Is this a defect with this model 4wd 1500 LT. What would be my best options for replacing the transmission? Can I put a 2500 series transmission in mine?
  • lrawsonlrawson Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 suburban and the same thing happened to me.. at 59,000 miles.. I had to get a new transmission which was not under warranty. I was experiencing the same thing you have described... also at the same time my fuel pump went out...
  • I have a similar problem. can you share the solution to your problem...Thanks
  • i currently have a 4L80E transmission, can it be switch out to a different trans and if so would there be any thing else to change out with it being a 4 wheel drive? what trans will fit? the one in it wont shift into any gear and will creep VERY slowly in 4 wheel drive just to move it to the garage. thank you for any help on this .
  • I am having similar problems with my 2000 / 2500 suburban. It started out with occasional hard shifts and now I get a shutter at low rpm shifts. I am wondering if you ever resolved your problem?
  • rhtransrhtrans Posts: 84
    The first thing i would check is the fluid level. when its cold the fluid contracts making the level very low, this could be causing the filter to suck air which in turn causes the pump to airiate and make a whining noise. as the fluid heats up it expands bringing the level up allowing the filter to its job..sounds like when you turn a corner it may be falling out of gear due to low fluid level. The late 1-2 shift and won't come out of reverse...may mean a bigger problem, but i'd certainly check that first. Make sure when you check it it's warmed up good, its in park running and on level surface. If it is low, there must be a leak. add fluid...recheck, if ok repair leak and service the trans (filter & pan gasket)...not a flush
  • not sure whats up with this one. almost at a stop it drops hard in to lower gear. not all the time..truck shifts@pulls like a tank. but when slowed to stop almost a clunk sound @ gear change. (note) my a.b.s. lights come on. may be the prob.who knowes ANY HELP........................
  • rhtransrhtrans Posts: 84
    I'm sure you have the allison transmission in your vehicle. That was a common complaint in the earlier units and not much can be done...unless a speed sensor is for the abs is causing it but not likely. It is a very heavy duty transmission & not really made for I would Ask your dealer if there are any computer programming updates for this complaint.
  • My 2001 chev 2500 tow/haul button will not engage the transmission and the light in the dash does not come on. I have a allison transmission 8.1 engine. help me with this problem.
  • Well the tow/haul buttons purpose is to tell the computer to change the shift strategy 2 accomodate a heavy load. If the stratgy does not change when pressed then there is either something wrong with the switch, a loss of power or an open wire. hard to say exactly without a scanner and further diagnosis...sorry. Check all fuses, inside and outside..who knows , you might get lucky.
  • Did you have any luck? mine has the same problem
  • All anbody has said is to check fuses.
  • The tow/haul button in the end of the shift lever has two small wires that run down the shift wire and into the steering column. After years of moving the shift lever up and down, these two small wires will break near the inside end of the shift lever. If you remove the shroud from the steering column (right behind the steering wheel) you will probably find broken wires. I have successfully soldered them back together and taped them off or you can purchase and new shift lever with the tow/haul button.
  • bret3bret3 Posts: 1
    I just bought a 2002 chevy Surburban LT with an 8.1. I'm headed out to Texas to pick it up. I currently have a chevy 2500 with a durimax and I really like how well the allison handles the loads on that truck. 180 k on that one and going strong. I'm not sure what numbers on the ein will tell me if I have an allison attached to that big 8.1
  • catamcatam Posts: 331
    No Suburbans have ever been made with the Alison tranny. Sorry it won't fit in the center tunnel without the body lift that the HD trucks use. I have read a few posts somewhere with posters mentioning aftermarket conversions but it would be very pricey.
    Until 07, all 2500 series Suburbans used the 4L80E tranny. This is a good tranny but you will definitely miss the extra gears from the Alison, esp. if you tow alot in hilly areas.
  • Hello all,
    I have a 1998 Chevy Suburban 4x4 with the 5.7 and the transmission is the 4L60E...we are on our 3rd rebuild of this transmission within 9 months, the first rebuild lasted 6 months, thought to be faulty converter, 2nd rebuild lasted about 1 month, 3rd one lasted less than a week, 488 miles to be exact. On the 2nd and 3rd time the rear planets have been chewed up and the rear thrust washer has been basicly welded to the shaft. was going up a hill this last time and just seem to start sliping and got really noisy, pulled over and made it up the hill to turn off on outer road, went to back up reverse is gone.....put back in drive and wasn't even able to limp it home...

    after the 2nd rebuild we replaced the radiator with GM (has the cooler in it) we took the factory air transmission cooler off and replaced it with factory line....anyone have any ideas as to why this would keep going out....short of buying a brand new GM tranny what could be done....

    any help aprecciated,
  • rockman59rockman59 Posts: 250
    anyone have any ideas as to why this would keep going out....short of buying a brand new GM tranny what could be done....
    Sounds to me like you are getting very poor quality rebuilt transmissions. I am assuming these trannies have some kind of warranty, right? But it is a pain to have to have the vehicle in the shop for replacement. It might be time to bite the bullet for a new GM unit if you are planning to keep your Suburban.
  • that's what we are beginning to wonder on the quality....this guy is well known for his work though and we've had him do stuff before such as 96-98 blazers but someone told us the 4L60E's are alot more complicated/harder rebuilds.....he has warrantied it each time but what hurts is the taking it out and in.....first time we done it ourself, second and third time we paid, this time will probaly be doing it ourself again....

    the other thing we heard was gm trannys didn't take good to rebuilds.....

    we are definatly keeping suburban till can upgrade to newer burb in year or two...does the newer ones with the 5.3's have the tranny issues like the older ones where you was almost guarenteed to replace tranny at 130,xxx range?

    that's about to the point we are....have to shell out 1500. :cry: for new GM but it comes with 100,000 miles warranty....
  • rockman59rockman59 Posts: 250
    heather 98 burb said: ...does the newer ones with the 5.3's have the tranny issues like the older ones where you was almost guarenteed to replace tranny at 130,xxx range?
    Take a look at this will find many posts of Tahoe/Suburbans with tranny problems with the 5.3 engine.
  • ybariybari Posts: 1
    I have a 2004 suburban that only moves forward in 1st and 2nd gears. When I put it in drive or 3rd it dose not move. Revers works just fine. Dose this mean that the tranny has to be rebuilt ? Our suburban only has 51K miles on it. Is this a common problem with this transmision ? The AAmco technician thinks that the overdrive is broken and would require a rebuild, does that sound about right ?
  • rockman59rockman59 Posts: 250
    ybari said: Our suburban only has 51K miles on it. Is this a common problem with this transmision ?
    Very common problem with the new generation Suburban/Tahoes. These transmissions have a history of failure at very low mileage compared to GM transmissions prior to 2000. If you are keeping the vehicle you might want to have a GM facility do the repair. AAmco or any of the other rebuilders can be pretty hit and miss when it comes to a fix. Make sure you get an iron-clad warranty no matter who does the repairs.
  • tpruddentprudden Posts: 1
    I have an '02 Suburban 4x4 1500 auto. My problem is that when I am driving and on level ground, neither accelerating or decelerating, just maintaining speed, the transmission will pulse from overdrive and drive until I give it more gas and cause more of a load. I changed the fluid and filter but no change. The fluid did not seem to be bruned and there did not seem to be an abnormal about of friction plate particles in the pan. Could this be a sensor problem or something in the valve body?
  • rockman59rockman59 Posts: 250
    tprudden said: Could this be a sensor problem or something in the valve body?
    The transmission/overdrive unit is both mechanical and electrical with computers in the system too. You need a professional transmission expert to diagnose your problem. Find a reputable GM dealer or transmission shop with qualified techs.
  • pmilampmilam Posts: 1
    We had our transmission go out in our 2000 Suburban on a trip to Lake Tahoe because of a poor service issue. We decided to replace it with a GM unit because they warranty it for 100,000 miles. It cost around $3000 but I think the warranty is worth it.
  • fordfan_17fordfan_17 Posts: 175
    if your transmission is "pulsing" at highway speeds cruising it sounds like you may have a tcc (torque converter clutch) to check and verify this try LIGHTLY resting your foot on the brakes while the shudder is happening if the shudder goes away its because the pcm disables lock up when you touch the breaks. if you tend to the problem immediately you may get away with just replacing the torque converter if you wait to do the repair it could cost you a complete overhaul.
  • cannancannan Posts: 1
    I have 2005 with about 68,000 miles on it. Mostly highway. I can no longer get the transmission into 2 wheel high. And when I do I will be driving along and all of the sudden it is out of gear. The only way it will drive is to have the Auto 4 Wheel Drive button selected. Help. I am not a good repair person when it comes to cars.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Get it to the dealer, or a transmission repair shop.
  • Could be in the switches. I have to change mine out for about $168. Includes labor. But one thing my message light said 4 wheel drive service. Maybe they can get a code out of this at your favorite place of work. Alot of places will not charge for reading the code if repair is done there. Good Luck. Passthings
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