Transmission Installation Trouble?


Old 09-10-04, 10:59 AM
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Transmission Installation Trouble?

Okay - so now I realize that one of the problems with doing all my own basic car maintenance - is that when there is something I can't handle (ie, putting in a transmission) - I don't have a good place to take my vehicle to.

Here's the story:

I have a 98 Jeep Wrangler Sport 6 cylinder 4.0 Automatic. The transmission fluid is dark and the vehicle has not been shifting well. I take it to a local tranny shop (national chain) and they quote me an estimate of $950 minimum, $1350 average to rebuild my transmission. They also throw an extra $215 on the quote IF they find I need a torque converter.

I take my car home to give it some thought and start looking on the internet for transmissions. I find a used one for $600 that comes with warrantee (described to be in perfect shape with low mileage). I purchase this transmission. While awaiting the unit - I call around to get quotes for installation and decide to go back to the national chain because its the closest and while one shop quotes me $325, they aren't much more ($400 plus fluid).

Its a 5.6 hour (quoted) job, I bring the vehicle in at around 11 AM on a Tuesday and I'm told that it'll be ready the next day - possibly before noon. At 1 PM - I call and at this point I'm told that they recommend my getting a new torque converter for $299. I ask what was wrong with my existing torque converter and they tell me that they just always replace the torque converter when they install a transmission (contradicting what they had said on the original quote). At this point I'm wanting them to stop and just give me the vehicle back - but my car is already apart so I have no choice (well, I guess I coulda had it towed, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there are no further issues). I tell them to leave the torque converter. The service station manager says he'll call me later in the day.

I call at 6 PM on Wednesday - my vehicle is still not ready. They close at 6 pm, so I won't be getting the vehicle that day. We had hard rain storms - so this might have set them back some time, but still - I'm realizing that they never ever call me when they promise, so what are the odds they'll have anything ready when promised? The manager doesn't know exactly the details about my repair because the mechanic working on my vehicle is gone for the day.

On Thursday I call at about 11 AM - mechanic is still working on my vehicle. I only have means to get my vehicle early (I literally have to run to the service station, so I need enough time to run there and drive back). I call back at 12:30 and my vehicle is being road tested (thank god!). The manager calls me fifteen minutes later - your vehicle won't shift out of first gear. The part is no good.

I call the parts company - they are happy to take the transmission back, or replace it. I'd have to pay the shipping - but the person on the phone says that he's positive its a perfectly working transmission.

The bill for the installation is $463. (Labor + Fluid at $3.95 a quart). But thats with the transmission still in the vehicle - I'll drive it the 5 miles in first gear and try to remove it myself I guess.

What should I do about my vehicle? Was the installation botched? Do you think it was the part? I guess there is a possibility of either. I don't know too much about the parts company (although they are considered to be very reputable). I do know that the service station told me some things that weren't true, first told me I 'might need' a part, then tried to sell me it (at a higher cost than originally quoted!), and that they never called me when they promised and didn't deliver (at all?) on time.

Thanks for your help,

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Old 09-10-04, 04:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
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I will start by saying never buy a used automatic transmission unless you know how to fix them.This means you would fix your own unless you had major hard parts failure or case damage that would cause repairing your own more expensive than purchasing a reman off the shelf.Now the trans shop to me sounds shaky because they didn't say up front to rebuild yours would automatically be getting a new convertor or no deal.All the garbage that floats in the trans fluid is in the convertor.When I overhaul a trans a convertor is not an option there are some repairs to a trans that it would be though like a solenoid failure.Which brings up another point,how was it shifting prior to the repair?Maybe you have an electrical problem and both transmissions are fine.You should have someone qualified on Jeep auto trans diagnose the failure for you before spending more money.At this point you would have been money ahead if you would have let the trans shop do the entire job because it would be their baby now.Did the trans shop at least scan the truck for codes?Are they sure all the trans wiring is connected properly?Faulty speed sensors can cause no shift concerns.Have you gone to the shop and driven the truck yet to confirm what they are saying?
Old 09-10-04, 05:06 PM
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I appreciate the response.

As I state - the vehicle was shifting poorly and the transmission fluid was dark - which was why I brought the vehicle for service to begin with.

The service center told me nothing - they did 'an external diagnostic', something they charge $49 for. I thought this would involve something more than I'd already done myself - but all they did was tell me that my fluid was dark and the vehicle wasn't shifting properly; that they'd need to open the transmission to see what was wrong with it. In hindsight, this seems awefully silly - why would anyone pay $49 to do something they could easily do on their own (examining fluid isn't tough, and anyone who'd driven the car would know there was something wrong with the shifting).

Tomorrow I will go to the shop and attempt to drive the vehicle back to my home. The service shop claims the vehicle will not shift out of first gear, so I'll have to make the 5 mile drive (no highways thankfully) very slowly.

After paying the service station their $463, I really can't afford to do anything more with my transmission at this time (in total I'm out just under $1100) - but since I've got two transmissions (one in and one out), maybe its a good time for me to learn how to rebuild one.
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