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Sluggish Transmission

02-24-2010, 02:16 PM
Hey everyone,

I've tried a few forums, mostly specific to which ever vehicle I am driving at the time but once I change the forum I used to go to tends to be moot.

Anyway, history aside, I've been having a problem with my car and I've been asking around and getting a bunch of conflicting information, including online. First I will describe my problem and what I have tried to remedy it.

I first noticed that my car makes a funny hissing sound from the driver side wheel well, I suspect the transmission but it's cold and wet outside and I'm usually not out on the freezing ground unless I really have to. It's a mixture of sounds. First you have the hissing, it's not the standard cooling down hissing you hear from some cars, it's louder and distinct. Then there are the standard cooling down sounds you always hear, like cracking/'ticking' metal that's cooling.

The issue though isn't the sound, it's the performance. Some days when I go to start my car to go to work, I will put the car in reverse and it will go up to 2k-3k RPM while barely moving. I remember the car reversing fine and only be at 1.5K RPM.

Then there is the forward gears. I will pull away and give myself lots of time to get out of the parking lot because I know that I have a power issue with my tranny. Sometimes it happens sometimes not. Regardless if I put the transmission in 1st gear I hear a winding 50% of the time, the faster I go, the faster it gets and it has a rhythm.

If I sit at a light in 1st for a few minutes(messed up intersection) and I give it some gas to pull away it will go up to 5K RPM (redline) and still be crawling through the intersection.

It's almost as if I have a standard transmission and I'm letting the clutch go really really slow.

So this is the information I have gathered. The transmission has a fluid filter and that could be clogged. This clogged filter would cause a problem for me since the torque converter is an electronically controlled hydraulic system, according to Wikipedia. To repair this I would have to take the bell housing off the transmission and replace/clean the filter and the magnet that collects particles of metal from the transmission. However, I have read reports of this problem persisting after this procedure.

Another snippet of info I gathered states that old GM/chev transmission get 'cranky' and just will not work. The solution is to let my transmission heat up a few minutes before driving. I don't accept this information is intellectually sound but it does explain the above solution not working. However, metal, oil and electronic wires don't have a mind of their own or a conscience of their own so they can't be 'cranky'. Something is broken/breaking and can be fixed.

I checked the transmission fluid 2 weeks ago after driving the car for 12k and it needed about 1/2 a quart of fluid. It was reading near empty. However, when I put transmission fluid in last time, it didn't seem to make a difference but it was also not this bad. I will check it again and see how everything goes.

P.S. Yes I took my car for a drive of proper duration/speed/length prior to checking tranny fluids as my manual suggests. Oh, and once it's 'heated up' it has lots of power. Squeals the tires easily, even though I try not to. I don't drive it hard a lot but on the rare occasion I'm sitting next to some Civic or other with a fart cannon for a muffler, I might give it some gas, just for fun. I have also found the 'sweet spot' where if you shift, the car nearly bounces to the side and just gives er. I've done it once so far, just in the 5-5.1k RPM section just before red-line. It's actually orange.

Any ideas, insight, suggestions, etc. are greatly appreciated!

Vehicle history:
1 Previous owner, elderly couple(50s) who had all the oil changes etc done. The car has 201k KM on the ODO when I bought it in July and now has 214k. I only started driving it in December.

When I bought the car it had duct tape over a hole about 5 inches long by 3 inches high right where the trim for the wheel well is at it's highest point on the fender. There are no other holes but there are some forming which I plan to fix with my parts car which has different colours but identical parts, except the engine. For now I just tacked in a piece of metal and body filled it. The exhaust was a POS. I took the exhaust off my 96 regal with a 3.1 and put it on. I didn't put the O2 sensor back on because I'm not an expert welder and would only screw it up.

03-06-2010, 01:08 PM
So I checked my transmission fluid again. It was still red but excessively low. I put in fluid and it instantly worked perfectly again. I put some fresh snow down in my parking spot and checked it for and drips and couldn't find a single one. From what I found online this means my transmission is burning fluid but it should have a burning smell? Is there anything else that anyone can think of that might be the issue.

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