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Had a very unpleasant experience yesterday. 2011 Cruze LT, normal vehicle, normal automatic transmission, about 90,000 miles. Other than receiving a LOT of recall notices that all say "Don't bring your car in for the recall unless it happens. Then, if the care wasn't totaled and all of you killed when 'x' happened, bring it in and we'll see"... I did a search in here but didn't find much on transmission that appears to disengage other than the dealer wanting $4600 to replace a transmission.

In Minnesota, temp about 25 degrees, yesterday afternoon after driving about 20 miles or so, middle lane of three lanes, rush hour. Pulled to a traffic light, waited, and when the light turned green, stepped on the gas. Car no move. Engine revved, but no move. Checked gearshift, in Drive. Pushed into Neutral, back to Drive, no move. Lots of honking. Put it in park and back to drive. No move. NO CHECK ENGINE LIGHT OR ANY OTHER ABNORMAL INDICATOR. Finally shut it off and restarted it. Put in Drive and it was back to normal. Drove a couple blocks and at 40 mph it suddenly revved as the car coasted to a stop. Got off onto a side street, shut it off and restarted again. Worked fine, pulled into a parking lot and it did the same thing again - Gearshift in Drive, engine revving, car coasted to a stop. Did it one last time and pulled it into a parking space.

Got a tow truck to haul it to the nearest repair place, a Firestone, and that's where it's sitting. They'll take a look today.........

There was no transmission fluid on the garage floor, in the parking lot, or on the flatbed of the tow truck. Or any I could see at the bottom of the engine bay. There were NO warning lights, screaming sirens, beeping anythings or anything else to indicate a problem. So, before Firestone calls and tries to blow a ton of sunshine up my backside, what are the most likely causes of what we experienced.
 

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All the symptoms of lack of a power on reset or a glitch in the electrical system causing the computer to crash. Ignition relay, battery terminal connection, or even an old battery that still starts the engine, but only has a capacity of about 15% left.

Would get your Cruze far away from a tire dealer. Other problems related to just the AT are dirty contacts in the brake switch, or what they use to call the neutral safety switch, or even in the PCM computer connector that all started with replacing all those expensive components in a non-electrical transmission like the governor, vacuum modulator, and that very complicated control valve with an 89 cent microcontroller. Far simpler today with just some control valves, but yet the price of these things skyrocketed.

Don't know how many people got screwed by getting their transmission replaced because the only problem was a dirty contact. Mechanical problems are consistent, electrical problems are erratic, your explanation of your problems are indubitably erratic. Minnesota, road salt, the electrical connection to your transmission is exposed to this crap.

Even tried to screw my own kids saying they needed a new transmission when a few checks showed dirty pins, some say you need a new computer for over a a thousand bucks, when the only difference between yours it has clean pins. But this is only on the male connector pins, not on the female pins inside of its connector that are also corroded, so this repair is only short term.

Now to find a Chevy dealer that knows just a little bit about electricity and is honest, this could be a problem. And you may not get a trouble code, ohmmeter sure works and not really that much to check.
 

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Text Floor plan Diagram Technical drawing Plan


Here is a circuit diagram of the connector pins to the AT, if any of those pins are corroded, a control valve will drop out and you will be in neutral. Really can't say all shops are bad, but the ones my four daughters went to, really took a disadvantage of them. Firestone in Madison with a leaky tire said her ball joints were bad, 400 bucks,called me, bring it home. Did show her how the tire wiggled, the reason it did, they loosened the nut on her tapered wheel bearings, but sure managed to scare the heck out of her. Want to hear a lot more, maybe another time.
 

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Since I had a manual transmission, not no need to look up the location of the so-called neutral safety switch they call it "Manual Shift Detent Lever with Shaft Position Switch Assembly", now.

Is located inside of the transmission, control valve cover has to be removed first after draining it.Sure makes sense for saving wiring, but not for maintenanceor even testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, here's where we are...

Firestone read the error codes. Said solenoid 3 was showing inoperative. TCM was having a fit because it couldn't get solenoid 3 to talk to it... Since they don't go INTO transmissions, they sent the car over to the local Kennedy Transmission.
Kennedy checked the codes, then pulled the side plate off to check. Fluid looked about the way it should at 90K miles, but there was a LOT of "shiny metal pieces" in the bottom. I'm not sure if the solenoid failed and having the engine freewheel and transmission slip caused all the metal, or the transmission was failing and caused the solenoid to go bad. We've never had any indication of slippage or other obvious transmission problems, but it took a fair amount of restarting and engine revving to get the thing to a safe location...

In any case, transmission is out and coming apart to see how much damage there is...

Contacted GM, but the 5-year warranty expired a year ago, so GM was largely disinterested to hear about the problem at fewer than 90K miles, and a bit of sympathy was all they were interested in offering. Which wasn't a big surprise. I'd have been a more surprised if they'd taken an interest in this (in my mind) extremely premature failure and been any help.

It's been interesting with this car. Our previous vehicle was a Toyota that we traded at 12-year and 180,000+ miles to get something with a bit more leg room... The comparison between the two as far as quality and reliability, as made occasionally by my wife, is heavily skewed in favor of the previous car... Not just because of this problem, but the myriad of recalls, notices of problems, and general quality. But, it is what it is...
 

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In those 90,000 miles did you ever have the transmission fluid changed? Sure the owners manual normal maintenance says 97,000 miles but the severe service is only 42,000 miles. When I had my cruze I split the difference and got it done sometime before 70K. Glad I did, as I had a leaking transmission cooler line that I had slowly been loosing fluid from.

I mention this because transmission fluid seems to be the most overlooked maintenance people should do, a $200 maintenance that could save thousands.
 

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Since I still have the shop manual on this thing, says nothing about overhauling the automatic transmission, just some on testing the senors and control circuits. Worse than I thought, gummy solenoid valve, not full pressure on the clutches, slipped and toasted the clutch.

Since these unibody cars are throwaway, a ton of AT's are available from wrecking yards, some in the 300 buck range. If you plan on keeping this car. Maybe could find one with low mileage on it. Sure miss the dipstick, if nothing else to see the color of the fluid, can tell if its turning dark, time to replace it. Saved my kids AT's, and really because a strong believer in Lucas AT restoration products. Just by looking at the dipstick. Still can do this, but have to crawl under.

We purchased a use motorhomed, 1982 Chevy P-30 with a TH-400 AT in, wife was very anxious to take a trip, didn't fully check it out yet, A rubber coolant hose fell off, lost the fluid 300 miles from home, repaired the hose, and don't ask me how we managed to get home, but was toast. Drove up our driveway, then died, AT was smoking like crazy. But with this thing, could buy everything on the inside, and I mean everything, planetary gears, improved torque converter, all Made in the US Borg Warner parts for $480, ha, use to be 125 bucks, but we have inflation. With the shop manual was able to rebuilt it, but I guess they are not doing this anymore.

Kind of says to replace you AT fluid as recommended.
 
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