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Help Trans won't shift out of 1st gear - FIXED


SigEpCutlass
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I of all people know to search, but I need your best suggestions...and I need them fast. I have to finish a project up at work right now, so I can't spare the time to dig through a ton of posts. If this is a serious issue, I will not be renewing the registration before the end of the month, and the cutlass will be donated to charity. :cry: That means I will become W-bodyless.

 

On Friday when I went to drive the cutlass after it sat for a week in the garage it wouldn't shift out of first gear. It will go into reverse just fine. The week before when I drove it she was running great. The cutlass will stay in 1st regardless of if it's on 1, 2, 3, or D.

 

I was going to go home today and unhook the battery, let it sit for a few hours to reset the computer, and then see what happens.

 

Your best ideas to quickly figure out the severity of this would be appreciated.

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Have you checked the obvious stuff? Tranny fluid levels and such?

 

You bet. The first thing I did was check the fluid level at normal operating temp. Fluid is a healthy redish color and at the full line.

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how many times has this happened? did you shut the car off and try again?

 

Friday was the first time anything wired has ever happened with the trans. But of course I tried again. :mrgreen: The first thing I did was pull over turn the car off, take the key out, and then try again.

 

Does the SPEEDO work?

Yes, speedo works and is actually accurate.

 

The cutlass is currently sitting in the garage with the battery disconnected. We have 6"+ snow outside right now, so I'll see how she drives tomorrow after work when the roads are actually plowed.

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I left you a VM, I could walk you though some trouble shooting of it....

 

how many miles are on the car?

 

first thought:

the way the tranny works, if it fail-safed, it would actually be in third in D and OD, and second in 1 and 2. what you say seems to indate a stuck solenoid....

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Any unusual noises coming from the trans?

 

Chris: Nope...no noises from the tranny.

 

Since you have 1st & reverse, it might be a shift solenoid sticking.

 

Matt/Ken: Ok assume the solenoid stuck because it was so freaking cold out here. If the solenoid gets stuck, does that mean replacement is really the only option? Would replacing this solenoid be simple? The only thing I've ever done with transmissions has been filter/fluid replacement.

 

I left you a VM, I could walk you though some trouble shooting of it....

 

how many miles are on the car?

 

Ken: Got your message this morning. I might take you up on that offer. The cutlass has less than 140,000 on it...I can't remember if it's 138,xxx or 139,xxx at the moment. She's due for the filter and fluid change, but the fluid is actually still a healthy color. The transmission has been serviced about every 35,xxx for its entire life

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Guest GrandPrixlover1

Could it be the torque converter? I don't know how you check those, but just thought I would throw it out there...I hope you get your car running well again.

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I have the 94 FSM in front of me too.

 

How fast have you gone in first? fast enough to know if you still have fourth gear?

 

btw, when you were driving it, were the roads slippery as hell? maybe too slippery to tell between 1 and 2?

 

I'd like to ask also when was the last time you changed your fluid.

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Tonight I'll check what the service manual states, but I think Ken has the right idea. Luckily you do have reverse so that eliminates the chance that the reaction drum shredded (hard part).

 

Thanks Brian. Please let me know if you find anything that might be useful.

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I went to Consumer Guide Automotive and picked out these two excerpts for a '94 Cutlass Supreme trouble spots:

 

1) Automatic Transmission - 4T60-E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, have no third or fourth gear, or no second and third gear because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. ('91 - '94)

 

2) Automatic Transmission - Model TH-125 or 440-T4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. ('90 - '94)

 

 

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I have the 94 FSM in front of me too.

 

How fast have you gone in first? fast enough to know if you still have fourth gear?

 

btw, when you were driving it, were the roads slippery as hell? maybe too slippery to tell between 1 and 2?

 

I'd like to ask also when was the last time you changed your fluid.

 

I was doing 30 in first gear and it still wouldn't shift. There was no snow, slush, or ice on the roads the last time I drove it (unlike now). As mentioned, it was last changed just under 35,000 miles ago, and it's due to have new fluid and filter. Fluid is still a healthy red color, and not a burnt brownish color.

 

Hopefully I get a chance to test drive it again before the next wave of snow hits us in Chicago. :mad:

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I went to Consumer Guide Automotive and picked out these two excerpts for a '94 Cutlass Supreme trouble spots:

 

1) Automatic Transmission - 4T60-E transmissions may drop out of drive while cruising, shift erratically, have no third or fourth gear, or no second and third gear because of a bad ground connection for the shift solenoids. ('91 - '94)

 

2) Automatic Transmission - Model TH-125 or 440-T4 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. ('90 - '94)

 

 

 

Thanks for the FYI. If it's a ground outside the tranny, I can take care of that. However, replacing a shift solenoid inside the tranny itself is another story.

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OK - just drove the cutlass after disconnecting the battery for a while. The cutlass still won't shift out of first gear, and does reverse just fine. HOWEVER, now my speedometer isn't working!!! :willynilly:

 

[RANT]Fucking cheap ass plastic hood release broke when I went to open the hood to reconnect the battery!!! Hooray for pliers... :cussing: [/RANT]

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BAM!! Who called the VSS? Lets hope it really is that easy!!

me?

 

question. When the car was acting up, was the speedo giving low or off readings at all?

 

Psyhomatt's CS had a pcm that was dieing he said the speedo was kinda jumping around.... like it was would snap down ten miles or so slower than he was going but snap right back....

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