Chevy Suburban Transmission Problems

70ss454_man70ss454_man Member Posts: 107
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.


  • pbuonopbuono Member Posts: 2
    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?

  • geiringegeiringe Member Posts: 1
    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 Member 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 Member 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...
  • yonoseyonose Member Posts: 1
    I have a similar problem. can you share the solution to your problem...Thanks
  • reid13reid13 Member Posts: 1
    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 .
  • frey3581frey3581 Member Posts: 1
    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 Member 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
  • jdwil5052jdwil5052 Member Posts: 1
    not sure whats up with this one. almost at a stop it drops hard in to lower gear. not all the time..truck [email protected] 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 Member 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.
  • pakmulepakmule Member Posts: 2
    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.
  • rhtransrhtrans Member Posts: 84
    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.
  • clb9erclb9er Member Posts: 1
    Did you have any luck? mine has the same problem
  • pakmulepakmule Member Posts: 2
    All anbody has said is to check fuses.
  • jsd214jsd214 Member Posts: 1
    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 Member 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 Member 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.
  • heather_98burbheather_98burb Member Posts: 2
    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 Member 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.
  • heather_98burbheather_98burb Member Posts: 2
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member Posts: 3,666
    Get it to the dealer, or a transmission repair shop.
  • pastthingspastthings Member Posts: 4
    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
  • pastthingspastthings Member Posts: 4
    Went to change the tranny oil and found that I could not get the right rear bolt out due to (it looks that the speedometer cable bracket is over the top of the pan bolt. Got bolt almost out but bracket (of which bolts are up in a very hard place to get to) but bolt to long and hits cable. No play on cable. Any suggestions. Also that large nut in corner of tranny pan on outside, is that the magnet inside?
  • fordfan_17fordfan_17 Member Posts: 175
    carefully remove the clip holding the "shifter" cable from the bracket and remove the shifter cable then you will have enuff clearance to get the pan down...if this is a 4 wheel drive vehicle then you will have to take the front drive shaft loose from the front differential in order to get enuff clearance to get pan out....also after you get shifter cable out. it is ok to bend the shifter cable bracket staight away from the trans pan it will help get the pan down easier and just bend back straight after pan is reinstalled. the bolt in the pan is drain plug...and yes there is a big round magnet surrounding the drain hole
  • pastthingspastthings Member Posts: 4
    thanks for the reply fordfan!! Isn't it funny. The transmission shop said they just unclip the shifter cable and drop pan (it is 4 wheel drive). Dealer says that the filter is a deep filter and there is no need to change filter. Just have a transmission flush.(at a $110 bucks). I will drain pan and add the need oil. I have never had a transmission flush on any vehicles and have gotten at least 180 thousand miles on all vehicles and no tranny problems. I did bolt the pan back on after trying to get that one bolt out and the pan is sealed. American transmission did say they would charge me $30 bucks to change the oil and filter I had to give them. Bravo American Transmissions (which is a nation chain). Thanks again. Great Forum.
  • trentwctrentwc Member Posts: 1
    I'm having the same problem with mine. Did you find out what was wrong?
  • pastthingspastthings Member Posts: 4
    I am now going to just drain out the tranny fluid and not worry about changing out the filter this time. I may get a flush next time. I will just use the drian plug to drain the fluid. Good luck.
  • tonheibtonheib Member Posts: 2
    Recently i replaced the 5.7litre 350 in my 1997 suburban. Because of the wiring harness getting in the way i disconnected it and removed the engine and tranny as one assembly. Well after re-installing the new 350 back into my truck and hooking everything back up i noticed that the transmission wouldn't go into reverse and wouldn't change gears when i test drove it. Can anyone help? :sick:
  • nonplussednonplussed Member Posts: 1
    Hi, My family and I (including our dog) were driving home from vacation last week when our '96 Suburban (automatic, 4WD, 350 5.7L) had difficulty powering and began clanking loudly (as though a monkey were banging under the hood) while on the NYS Thruway. As soon as we pulled into Midas, one of the mechanics took a brief look under the hood and under the car and suggested a connecting rod was blown and the engine dead. To take it apart and see for certain and repair would surely be a minimum of many hundreds of dollars.

    We drove to a 2d mechanic who very promptly yelled at us for shutting off the engine given that the engine was dead, shot, kaput and might not start up again. This he said based solely on the clanking he heard which was incredible loud.

    The car has nearly 179,000 miles on it and a rebuilt transmission (in 2005). I have someone who has the 350 engine with "low miles" (he is not certain how many) and will install it for $500 (cost to remove my engine and put new one in) and will charge $400 for the engine itself. This almost seems too good to be true, for if we can do this for $900 and keep the car for our family for another few months until we are able to find a newer Suburban, it would seem we could then trade it in or resell our car for at least $2-3,000.

    Any thoughts? Are we crazy to think this might work? Right now, our car is sitting 5 hours from our home, so our options are limited.

  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    The resell of large SUV's is dead now, because of the price of gas. I wouldn't bet on anything in regards to what you'll get on trade in or private sale. SInce it's work probably nothing in it's current condition, if you get it running then you have a chance to recover what you put into it.

    You really don't know what kind of condition the engine is in......'low miles' is suspicious.....and who knows what make or model year this engine came out of (and why it came out). What kind of warranty will this guy give you?
  • joe1234joe1234 Member Posts: 3
    ANyone have any problems with tran of their new suburban. I am very disappointed thus far. I have been a [non-permissible content removed] car buyer for about 20 years never a problem. I really like the look of the redesigned Tahoe and suburban and needed a large SUV for my expaned family. I bought a 2007 suburban with 1400 miles on it. The trans went at 5,000 miles. took it to the dealer they fixed it. 1500 miles later the trans is gone again. They came and got the car, but the service guy is telling me that they are replacing the trans with either a new one or a GM rebuilt one not sure how I feel about the GM rebuilt one. any one have one of these rebuilt ones installed??? hows it going???

  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    I'd rather have a factory rebuilt model, than have the local dealership rebuilding one.
  • joe1234joe1234 Member Posts: 3
    I guess my feeling is that it is a new car. I would like to get a new trans installed. not a rebuilt one.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Perhaps push for a new transmission, and have fallback negotiation point to have them give you an extended warranty, since this is your 2nd failure. Probably won't get it....but it is certainly worth a try. Third failure and candidate for lemon law repurchase. Keep all of your receipts and document everything.
  • joe1234joe1234 Member Posts: 3
    Any idea how that lemon law works?? I expect the dealer knows and will fix the problem this time as they don't want to have to wright me a check. :)
  • paulutionpaulution Member Posts: 1
    I recently bought a very clean 84 Diesel Suburban 4 x 2. The origial owner told me that he had changed out the rear end to some other gear ratio (I haven't checked to what yet) as the original rear end caused the engine to "wind too high," but, that this was done at the expense of fuel economy. He also showed me the papers for the recent rebuild job on the transmission. Well, two months later I believe I fried the transmission on a road trip. It started shifting back and forth like it was going in and out of overdrive on straight, level highway. Then, when I pulled into town it started acting like it was a manual transmission with a bad clutch. I got it to crawl it's way to a nearby hotel where, when I shut the thing off, I could no longer get it into reverse or park. The fluid on the dipstick smells terribly burned. I had it towed 100 miles home (thank God for AAA). At any rate, after reading various postings on this forum, I have some questions. I am considering just trying to find a transmission at the junk yard as a temporary fix. Is there anything I need to know about any necessary adjustments I may need to make to accomodate the gear ratio of my suburbans differential? When I am finally able to scrape the funds for a professional rebuild, what's my best option and how much might that cost? When I say "best option," I am asking whether there are known remedies for what seems to be a far too common problem with suburbans that their transmissions suck and whether people know of a reputable chain with a good warranty on their work. Any and all suggestions are welcome as I am totally green to Suburbans, the 6.2, and their transmission issues.
  • bstaples1bstaples1 Member Posts: 2
    99 gmc suburban trany started out skipping second now second is back but i lost first and OD is this the trany or could this be shift solonoid. any help is great.
  • okierodokierod Member Posts: 2
    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?

    I have a 2000 suburban that is doing the same thing and was wandering what you did to correct this 4wd problem.
  • calvphilcalvphil Member Posts: 1
    I own a 2007 Suburban, one week ago I took it to local dealer for it's 30,000 mile check. I had transmission serviced. The following week we took a vacation and drove about 800 miles. One day after we got home the transmission went out, just like that, no warning. No forward gears, only reverse. Toed to dealer who rebuilt it, just picked it up today and now it feels strange. I too have only had Toyota, I am now sorry I bought this vehicle. It has also had the drive line replaced and fuel pump replaced and all this in under 30,000 miles. I would trade it, but it is worthless. I totally understand why GM is bankrupt. I'm just another sad GM owner full of regret. After this, hello Toyota again. There is a reason why Toyota products hold there value, they are well built, and have quality products.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Good thing still under warranty
  • bcz71bcz71 Member Posts: 1
    My 03 (58.5K miles) Suburban had an instance this weekend where the transmission slipped on light acceleration from a dead stop. The dealership tells me a code was present that correlates to a stuck input sprague. I also noticed a noise that sounded like a noisy power steering pump from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd. They tell me that the pump was boosting line pressure as a result of the stuck sprague and the noise was consistent with the increased pressure. I have no idea what a sprague is, but what I'm really curious about is this a sign of more problems to come? The tech said left alone it would eventually take out 3rd and 4th gears because the sprague wouldn't disengage. He went on to say anything that was he was in doubt about would be considered damaged and replaced. He said it would probably result in almost a full rebuild. Have any of you experienced this type of failure and if so, did other transmission problems emerge later? I have been very faithful (and perhaps spent too much money) in making sure the trans/transfer case/front and rear diffs were serviced regularly.

    Thanks for your input,
  • dafolkdafolk Member Posts: 1
    I don't know how to put this. I have an 05 sub at about 53,000. Blew tranny last year. Pulling two motorcycles through South Carolina. The tranny had actually reacted similarly earlier last year by slipping at a light with a little bit of a load. It would actually happen infrequently, but I was always skeptical that this was a sign of something more to come.
    It did. It was hot out that day and we had stop and go traffic the Tranny shifted down from OD to 2nd to accomodate the cruise setting. Long story short... Hit one hill the tranny let out a gawd awful whine (sounded like power steering pump) and one hill later the tranny was grinding awfully. Horrid sound. I knew the tranny was chucked! - No over heated tranny light or indication on the display. I am assuming that you didn't have the load I had. (I was fully packed for the beach 5 people in the machine towing my motorcycles. Chucked both planetaries front and back. 'AAMCO' replaced those and some seals installed a new updated' pump body (supposedly to improve fluid flow.) and recalibrated the Transmission shift points. The main issue they said was that the fluid pump - quit pumping fluid. That is essentially what caused a catastrophic breakdown. (I love my suburban's, this sucked! $3k to have fixed!) Kinda ruined my vacation too. I don't know what you could do to prevent this. Other than having a tranny place pull your tranny and check the parts thoroughly. (Supposedly I could have had GM install a new tranny for $1500 with 100k warr. Who knows now.) Hope this helps!
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