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1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 12:22 AM

good evening fellas

My daughter has a 94 chevy Cavalier (4 cyl /auto trans)---After she's run it a while and comes to stop, it locks up in OD ,starts bucking and stalls (same as stopping a standard shift without using the clutch)--I've asked her to operate the shifter lever between low and drive, even neutral to no avail. when this happens to her. Clains it remains stuck in gear and finally stalls---then she sits 30 min waiting for it to cool down--starts it up and goes on her way like nothing happened.

It sounds like the torque converter is locking down (like it should in OD) but won't release when the car slows down. I've tried transmission cleaner, thinking it might be a sticky valve but the problem persists after 2 weeks of running.

What triggers the torque converter lockdown (speed, vacuum ,???) and where is the valve located ? -If you indeed think this is the problem.

Appreciate your help.

Jim

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#1

Re: transmission locking up.

03/09/2009 12:27 AM

Stick an OBDII code reader on it.

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#2

Re: transmission locking up.

03/09/2009 1:12 AM

Sounds VERY much like the lock up converter is not disengaging the converter clutch. Almost guarantee it! You'll need a new converter or converter solenoid. Please scan it for accurate identification of failed component. Converter solenoid is less expensive to replace than the converter. The transmission has to be removed to replace converter. Pretty typical scenario for torque converter clutch failure or solenoid failure, however the solenoid is less likely the culprit than the torque converter. Adding additives only help very temporarily and actually can damage other components in the transmission like the internal seals, o-rings, and clutch linings. Stay away from high alcohol content additives.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: transmission locking up.

03/09/2009 10:02 AM

naturalextraction

Appreciate the info--will find code reader and check same.

Can you tell me if the selonoid referred to is accessable with the transmission pan off,

and what operates the selanoid ?

donzi

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: transmission locking up.

03/09/2009 3:03 PM

Hi donzi, the solenoid is in connection with the valve body and should be accessible with the pan off. Your model may have a side pan, if so, a bit more difficult. The cpu operates the signal of the solenoid via line pressure from a valve in the valve body. However when the converter clutch is burned up or is warped, it cannot release causing a "didn't depress the clutch coming to a stop" effect which is mechanical, thus having nothing to do with the solenoid at that point. The scanner will identify the lockup solenoid operating on or off as it is driven. If it's working appropriately your limited to the converter lock up clutch failure. However the scanner will also tell you if there is a signal coming from the cpu to solenoid which may indicate a cpu problem. Quite doubtful.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: transmission locking up.

03/09/2009 4:55 PM

Thanks again for the info--taking it tomorrow to have it read-(can't find my reader).

I took it from your comments, the reader needs to be attached while driving to show conditions under operation.

Thanks again--my daughter just replaced the convertible top and upholstered the entire vehicle (herself) and she ain't givin it up that easy.

Donzi

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: transmission locking up.

03/09/2009 6:01 PM

Good for her actually. I like to see our kids put some work and a little pride into their vehicles, even if it's cosmetic. Like you said, she's not about to give it up! Cool.

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#32
In reply to #6

Re: transmission locking up.

03/11/2009 4:38 PM

picked it up this am--drove around a while--she said(it actually shifts down) you can hear it when you slow down--My response--it better ($222.99)--oh well it made her day.

thanks again--donzi -have a good one.

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#34
In reply to #32

Re: transmission locking up.

03/11/2009 7:29 PM

I'm glad it all worked out and for the price, that's actually not bad! I don't have much experience with Eldorado's actually, but you should have more than 5lbs in the fuel line.

I love to watch the boats but it's many miles to see any and was active in SWDBA (southwest drag boat association) years ago anyway. That's pretty cool your daughters into this stuff. I'm finding pretty capable females getting into the sport. Frankly a lot of good drag racing girls as well!

Have fun in sunny Florida!!!

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#36
In reply to #34

Re: transmission locking up.

03/11/2009 9:53 PM

naturalextraction:

I'll lick that eldorado problem sooner or later--I suspect fuel pump problem but I don't want to crawl under that thing to find out--when I replaced the filter I had daughter turn ignition on while I collected fuel sample from tank--to my surprise the pump kept turning off after a while so she had to operate the ignition off/on to get it to pump some more--with fuel going into gar it should have emptied tank ?

Any way I shure appreciate your assistance and have a good one.

donzi (Jim)

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#24
In reply to #2

Re: transmission locking up.

03/10/2009 7:07 PM

naturalextraction:

hello again--turned out to be the selanoid (couple hundred bucks)--we'll see after it's installed tomorrow.

he said he had to get access through a side pan--_maybe I should suggest he dump the fluid (bottom pan) and replace filter and fluid--about 130k miles. I'm assuming the bottom pan doesn't have to come off to replace selanoid-I didn't look.

donzi

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: transmission locking up.

03/10/2009 7:14 PM

Would be a good time to do it, 130K is about right too.

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#27
In reply to #25

Re: transmission locking up.

03/10/2009 8:14 PM

I gave a reply but it ended up at the bottom, look for it down the thread!!!

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#30
In reply to #25

Re: transmission locking up.

03/11/2009 1:50 AM

you're right--it's abput time!

BY THE WAY-where the hell is Khhojv;u0, NY-I'm from Syracuse --never heard of your place??

Jim

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#37
In reply to #30

Re: transmission locking up.

03/11/2009 10:37 PM

donzi, I'm east of you , just South of Albany, in the back woods.

Only a few hours from here.

I was going to suggest to you the fuel pump, also fuel filter, most likly cause.

May be in tank.

Jim

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#38
In reply to #37

Re: transmission locking up.

03/12/2009 7:35 AM

Anywhere near Guilderland Center?

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#39
In reply to #38

Re: transmission locking up.

03/12/2009 1:35 PM

I am about 40 mins South of that location.

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#26
In reply to #24

Re: transmission locking up.

03/10/2009 8:12 PM

I would HIGHLY suggest the method I described in the thread I provided a link to. Many of the Jiffy Lubes etc. that do the oil changes or "flushes" on transmissions have problems. A transmission with that many miles would benefit from that method I described. Cool that it's just the solenoid. That saves a few hundred bucks. If they know what their doing, it's a bit of a trick, but the side cover can be removed without to much hassle and replace the noid.

But explain the method I talk about. I've been working with classics and antique automobiles for over 30 years! I really know what I'm doing. That is my specialty. I restore classics and transmissions just happens to be something I got into about 20 plus years ago. Sounds like you have an opportunity to really make this little car last for many more miles for your daughter. I gave you the link to the thread I talked about regarding oil changes on high mileage or old cars. It really works!!!

I hope the best for your daughters car specially sense she's put some work in to it. I like to see my boys take some pride in their cars and work!! My older boy is here right now working on his.

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#29
In reply to #26

Re: transmission locking up.

03/11/2009 12:13 AM

naturalextraction:

Got ya ! The guy doin the work was head mechanic at local chevy garage out on his own now--is pretty honest and reliable (not cheap). You didn't mention the grade (weight) of non det motor oil used to supplement the trans fluid replaced, if it's of any importance.

With your experience with classics I'd like to run by you a problem my 85 4100 Eldorado is giving me a fit. Won't idle !--starts immediately-runa fine 30 sec-and begins pulsing up and down (idle to 1200 rpm) and then stalls--changed the O2 sensor and in line filter to no avail. fuel pump ? pressure at throttle body fuel line fitting is only 5 lbs. ?? code keeps coming up as 20 and 52 ??

donzi

PS thanks again for all your help on daughters vehicle--you mentioned drag--I build BB marine engines for my donzi--can't afford those land line go fasts anymore and you can't play with em on the road --playing on water is a different story and we're only minutes from the st. johns --runs from Jacksonville FL to Orlando FL---bout 100 miles.

pss--got one daughter could build a 350 from scratch and get it right.--the boys never took to cars but a couple of the girls did,--odd.

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#28
In reply to #24

Re: transmission locking up.

03/10/2009 8:30 PM

I keep missing the right one here, I replied to your comment. Look further below for my answers.

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#7

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 9:00 PM

Does the temperature shoot up for a few secs before stopping? If so, check your thermostat, it might be stuck.

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#16
In reply to #7

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 12:21 PM

she says no--but you know how that goes, although she's pretty smart-for a woman.

don't know if she ever looks at it. --I know what you were gettin to.

thanks--donzi.

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 12:39 PM

You should check it yourself. I saw this same problem on a '95 a few years back.

By the way: for how long does she drive before having it shut down?

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#20
In reply to #18

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 1:23 PM

just far enough for i9t to get warmed up--15--20 miles and fast enough to get it in overdrive !

donzi

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#8

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 10:51 PM

Had it happen to a buddy of mine, he disconnected the lead for the lockup and drove it as normal. He didn't get quite the mileage, but the car ran fine. It would have cost him more to fix the tranny, than the car was worth.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 11:04 PM

If the converter clutch has burned to the point of warpage, it will not release. But Donzi stated that it will work correctly after a time. That should rule out the warped clutch.

Disconnecting the converter clutch will indeed return the transmission to working condition, minus the lock up feature, but will set the check engine light unless a resistor is wired across the connector that matches the resistance of the solenoid. Good luck.

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#12
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Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 11:55 PM

bob c

You can bet your bp if the man tells me "it needs a torque converter" Ill be disconnecting the leads to the tranny-It's her pride and joy but she don't go no where except local--on long hauls we drive or loan her one of our cars--what do ya think--I'm too damm old to be crawlin under that thing.

thanks--donzi

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#9

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 10:55 PM

I had a '90 and a '91 that did the same thing. Look on the bell housing of the tranny and find the wiring harness. Unplug it and leave it unplugged. Drive the car and see if this solves your problem. Most of those trannies have an electronic lock up on the torque converter.

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#10

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 10:58 PM

I have a 92 Corsica that has had the same problem for close to 10 years, and the guesses here are exactly right the OD lock is not letting go. And it is a mechanical thing that is very expensive to fix.

I tried 4 different shops, and all were withinn 50 bucks of the fix charge, and that was a crazy 600 bucks!!! But one mechanic made a suggestion, Just kill it.

In front of the tranny is a small 4 conductor cable with a nice connector going into the front of the tranny. Simply disconnecting this connector from the tranny and the "4th Gear" ( the lock up overdrive) never gets engaged. And the car behaves just like an old skool 3 speed automatic tranny. You loose some fuel economy, but in my case it was only 2 or 3 MPG loss, but at least you are never stuck waiting for everything to cool down before you can go again, and in the hot summer that can be well over a hour.

I ran like that for several years.

Then I made a modification, I went to radio shack and got a 4PDT 12 vdc coil relay and i cut the wire and inserted that relay with a nice lighted switch on the dashboard.

I learned that if you are going on a long drive you can allow this OD to kick in to get the max fuel economy possible, but there is a catch, you need to actuvate the relay a few miles before you plan on stopping.

Because once it's HOT, even pulling the wires does not release the OD right away, it needs a few miles of driving to finally release. and you'll feel it too let go a small jerk and you can hear the engine rpm rise some, But it's a lot less than what you would think.

This problem is on a LOT of this vintage of GM carsd, I'm acrtually amazed it isnt covered as a design defect and they are made to fix it right, but ohn well
Joe

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#13
In reply to #10

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/09/2009 11:59 PM

I haven't suggested unplugging the transmissions four pin connector as it will disconnect your pwm helps regulate line pressure. You would have to disconnect ONLY the wire that goes to your TCC solenoid. That only works on certain 440T4's. You should have a 4T60E. 93 and up will have a pwm in all the E models. So disconnecting the whole connector will cause other problems! The unit you have is a 4T60E (T for transverse) I've rebuilt quite a few of them personally. I'll look up the correct color code wire directly for your converter and also find out if that years cpu will cause your vehicle to go into "limp mode" if so disconnected. Some cpu's will do that even to disconnect the TCC. If not it does work to disconnect the solenoid.

One more thing to remember. If the Torque converter has failed, the residual material from the failure will contaminate the system. More sensitive to contamination are the shift solenoid screens, pump vanes and their mating services, and valve body port screens to name a few.

If you can afford to fix it correctly, do so. Mostly for longevity, reliability and piece of mind. This is your daughters car. If it will operate without the TCC connected I suggest dropping the pan and changing the filter. Check the pan for what type of contamination resides on the bottom as well as what is caught in the filter. Converter clutch material is not the same as clutch material lining. It will look like cat litter in the pan! Just FYI.

Use this link as I've discussed oil changes in this thread for old or high mileage cars. http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/32578#newcomments

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#17
In reply to #13

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 12:35 PM

This may be fact, but what I have experienced with mine, when this first started happening the car had about 50K miles on it, and we did all the above changed fluids, filters everything, and never found any foriegn objects, particles, or anything to show something is wronmg.

I fought the car like this for the next 20K mile doing high rpm neutral drops at stop lights and signs, and getting several tickes for same.

Then I learned of the wire pull and that happened at about the 70K mile point,, and at the 120 K mile point i added the relay item..

The car now has 187+K miles on it so it's ran over 130K miles with the wiore un plugged and it works perfectly.

soo if there was something to worry about, I sure don't know what it is..

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#19
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Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 1:17 PM

Often most of the clutch material will adhere itself to the inside of the converter due to centrifugal force. If the clutch plate doesn't warp, no other damage will be created other than having no lock up. Consider yourself lucky. Earlier models quite frankly, especially three speeds hold up to quite a bit of abuse, especially from a low torque motor.

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#21
In reply to #19

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 1:55 PM

3.1 liter v 6 engine, decent touque

can burn rubber esasily anytime. so,,,,,?

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#23
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Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 5:22 PM

It's a very light car! Foot print of the tires, tire compound, surface conditions, etc. Physics man, physics, it's all quite explainable. No time for this kind of educating, just be glade you've had a vehicle you can do that with!! And got a way with out damage! My drag racing experience has proven much in these areas. Once you hook up with a powerful engine, stuff starts to break unless you've matched the components to the transfer of power in equilibrium.

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#31
In reply to #10

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/11/2009 2:03 AM

NSS

you sound like me--gonna get it to work somehow--specially when funds are short & with 9 youngins they were always short.

sounds like you fix worked well for some time !

donzi

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#33
In reply to #31

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/11/2009 5:31 PM

It still is working too.

About 60 miles a dat daily work commute, and once a month trip to relatives house 8 hours one way trip.


soo,,

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#35
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Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/11/2009 9:42 PM

NSS

hate to hear you're still working ! thats about what my commute was til I decided to get retired (or the company did). --(I work harder retired--may have to go back).

Thanks for info--donzi bye

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#14

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 12:23 AM

This is what the material looks like. This is a unit I'm working on right now that had converter clutch failure. It created a complete loss of pressure in the unit. It is a 4L60E. The rear wheel version of yours. The little pieces are just a few left of the clutch material. That is part of the pump next to it.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 12:33 AM

YIKES!!

This is the #1 reason I Love Standard Trans! So few issues to deal with on a road car.

Younger years, 2 speed auto 1/4 Mile. Only way to go. Not on a road car, must be manual trans.

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#22

Re: 1994 Chevy Cavalier - Transmission Locks Up

03/10/2009 3:00 PM

After having read CR4 for a few years, I would never own a Cavalier. It seems like the worst car for problems on here is the Cavalier. There have been many threads on the Cavalier's many issues.

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