2003 Malibu tranny problem

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  #1  
Old 09-05-17, 08:19 AM
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2003 Malibu tranny problem

I have a 2003 Chevy Malibu (worst car ever made). 3.1 v6, auto, 180k miles, NO work ever done on tranny. While stopped at a red light I felt the transmission lug into and out of gears - so I put it into neutral. When the light turned green and I put it into gear and the car barely moved forward, but it did move. Eventually it did get up to speed - but it took a long, long time and everyone behind me was honking. It feels like the engine and trans are not connected - I can give it all the gas I want and it just barely moves (like a manual clutch that is slipping). One thing, when the car does make it up to speed (40 and over) the car drives fine - as if it is stuck in 4th gear - so no power at all at low speeds but fine at high speed). I've done no work at all on the trans since new. I checked for leaks and I didn't see any and the bottom of engine area was dry. As checking the fluid level requires a lift I couldn't do that but I did put a qt of fluid in just to see and it made no difference. No codes on the computer except a prior O2 code. The car already needs an exhaust/cat/O2's ($1400 estimate) and I believe it had a neutral safety switch problem that kind of went away by itself (I rigged a wire to the starter solenoid to start the car, but now it starts fine just with the key) and I just paid $200 to renew the tags for it. I figure my options are junking the car, putting in a junkyard used tranny ($300-$400) myself or paying someone else to put in a used tranny. Some questions - I've replaced clutches before but is a tranny replacement on this car too much for a shadetree mechanic on a residential street with neighbors? Are used trannies too much of a gamble (I have no experience with them)? If it was your car what would you do?
 
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  #2  
Old 09-05-17, 08:42 AM
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Sounds like the torque converter is bad.

I had an issue with an older Equinox and the shop that I was working with had a good line on used trans from various yards that they felt very comfortable getting used parts from. Luckily it was a plugged converter so we dodged that repair.

It's a FWD vehicle so that makes for full removal of engine & trans.
 
  #3  
Old 09-06-17, 05:33 AM
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NO work ever done on tranny
Not even a fluid/filter change? The first step is checking the fluid level. What you describe could be low fluid, it could be many things, so start with the cheapest/easiest. If you find that the transmission does neet to come out, removing it is an 8-10 hour job with a lift, longer in your driveway. Used transmissions are always a gamble, you never know how a car was driven or maintained.

My opinion, the car needs more than it's worth (especially since you hate the car). So what I would do is: Check the fluid level, if filling it makes it work, sell the car. If it needs a trans, I'd junk the car. With all the other problems, spending the time and money putting in a junkyard trans to sell would not add enough value to the car to make it worth the trouble.
 
  #4  
Old 09-06-17, 05:33 AM
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"I have a 2003 Chevy Malibu (worst car ever made). 3.1 v6, auto, 180k miles, NO work ever done on tranny."

The transmission oil and filter were never changed ??
 
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Old 09-07-17, 05:14 AM
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In answer to the "did you ever change the fluid/filter" - no, I did not. Looking at it now I probably should have, but my experience with old cars (I used to buy nothing but $200 cars, drive them for a few years and then get another one) is that when I used to do the fluid/filter change or even pay to have the trans flushed it never made a difference. A pain to do with no upside. I was wrong this time.
 
  #6  
Old 09-07-17, 10:36 AM
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Live an learn, we all make mistakes. Did you check the fluid level? There would be no harm in throwing in a quart to see if it starts working. Overfilling the trans is a pretty low risk at this point, what more harm can it do. If adding fluid improves it, then do a whole trans service, you may get lucky.
 
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Old 09-07-17, 10:56 AM
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I did put in a quart of fluid with no change. From reading I believe to actually check it I have to jack it up on all four corners to get the car level - which is hard to do with what I have to deal with. Also, looking at the bottom the whole underside is dry so i would think I'd see some residual signs of leaking fluid. If I can jack it up level, do I check it with the engine running or with it off? I've read different opinions on this. Thanks.
 
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Old 09-07-17, 12:20 PM
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I've only done a few, but what I did was on level ground, only jack up 1 side to get to the bolt that had to be removed, then let the car back down level. It's supposed to be running in park, then add fluid until it runs out of the hole. Then I jacked it back up and put the fill hole bolt back in. That was easier than jacking the entire car up level, unless you have access to a lift.
 
  #9  
Old 09-07-17, 12:27 PM
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That is a great idea, I'll let you know if it works. thanks
 
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