Bad transmission: Chevrolet
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  1. #1
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    Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    I'm going to vent:

    I drive a four wheel drive converted full size 3/4 ton van. I've always had vans, but life changed in 2000 when I got my first 4x4! My last one was a 5.7 litre, 4L80E transmission, and GM 14 bolt 3.73. The truth is it was a little underpowered when I towed the 6000 LB camper. Still the luxury of seldom being stuck, and seldom putting on tire chains, I was living the dream.

    When I ordered my present van they offered no choices. It came with 3.42 ratio, 6L90E transmission, both top gears are overdrive. It's a 6 litre.

    At present, I have experienced my third torque converter failure, this time the transmission is toast also.

    It has been two weeks thus far, the dealer is blaming Quigley, the 4x4 conversion company, they haven't supplied part numbers for seals, and freeze plugs. Quigley says they spent 15 minutes on hold, finally talked to somebody else who claimed to know nothing about the situation, but would pass along the information. Evidently this never took place.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  2. #2
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    too bad you cant get an allison tranny into it, or the old turbo 400......

  3. #3
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Bad situation...
    The 6L trannys suck. Ford on the other hand has built an awesome 6 speed auto named the 6r80...
    I know thats irrelevant but its just on my mind.
    There is another option, but it'd really throw a monkey wrench into the warranty BS...
    You can convert to another 4L80.. they are much more reliable than the 6l80/6l90 that they now use. If you really like your ride, might be worth the investment. I'd personally do it only after they sort out the warranty and after the warranty expires.
    I have seen the gm 6l series fail in factory form with less than 10k miles. They are sweet when they work, they usually just dont work very long. Just my opinion tho..
    I have seen a couple go past 100k with no issues but seen many fail before 60k

  4. #4
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    I'm thinking the 4L80E was a great transmission with 1 OD gear much lower than 5th on the 6L90E, or a used pickup could yield a pair of differential gears in 4.10 ratio. I believe either solution would relieve the stress on the torque converter. I presume this combination of high geared overdrives, and high axle ratios is total submission to Washington putting pressure for fuel efficiency. I believe vans are in their own set of circumstances.

    Pickups are bought by their owners, and drivers. Not always, but usually. Vans are bought by bean counters. They don't own the van, they will never drive the van. When Coca Cola, or FedEx buy 1000 vans in a lot, the purchasing agent will never see the van, will never drive the van, and will never encounter the driver of the van. A box with wheels is what he is buying. He is indifferent as to the inconveniences in the van.

    An engine turning 1400RPM at 65 MPH would not be tolerated by pickup owner/drivers. A van is another matter.

    The question no one is willing to answer is: Will a lower gear ratio, or different transmission play nice with the multitude of computerized interfaces?
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael ray View Post
    Bad situation...
    The 6L trannys suck. Ford on the other hand has built an awesome 6 speed auto named the 6r80...
    I know thats irrelevant but its just on my mind.
    There is another option, but it'd really throw a monkey wrench into the warranty BS...
    You can convert to another 4L80.. they are much more reliable than the 6l80/6l90 that they now use. If you really like your ride, might be worth the investment. I'd personally do it only after they sort out the warranty and after the warranty expires.
    I have seen the gm 6l series fail in factory form with less than 10k miles. They are sweet when they work, they usually just dont work very long. Just my opinion tho..
    I have seen a couple go past 100k with no issues but seen many fail before 60k
    Mine is at 72000, I'm an old man, to say I drive conservatively would be an understatement, I get 60000 miles from tires. I believe bad design in too high a gear ratio. The torque converter is always slipping. Could a GM 14 bolt 4.11 rear, and front be programmed into the computer? My son has this drivetrain, and it is a wonderful drivetrain.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  6. #6
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Absolutely..
    I do programming on lots of the gm computers. Biggest obstacle i see with that would be the wheel speed sensors for the abs system. But gear ratio is easily changed in the module.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael ray View Post
    Absolutely..
    I do programming on lots of the gm computers. Biggest obstacle i see with that would be the wheel speed sensors for the abs system. But gear ratio is easily changed in the module.
    Would pickup differentials Play nicely with van electronics? I think a donor truck, maybe a wreck would yield differentials, I've always had GM 14 bolt full floaters, this axle just looks weak! The front is GM independent from a pickup, but they (at Quigley) have to change them to 3.42 as GM doesn't offer 3.42 in heavy pickups.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  8. #8
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    Mine is at 72000, I'm an old man, to say I drive conservatively would be an understatement, I get 60000 miles from tires. I believe bad design in too high a gear ratio. The torque converter is always slipping. Could a GM 14 bolt 4.11 rear, and front be programmed into the computer? My son has this drivetrain, and it is a wonderful drivetrain.
    im assuming the 6l80/90 is what is in my work truck (15 3500hd with weak 6.0 gasser), and the other trucks 14-16 that were purchased in the last few years. the two 14s recently grenaded transmissions without warning.

    getting used to the six-speed was weird, because like you said, its geared way too tall. my heavy rig doesn't spend much time in top gear, because the relatively weak motor just wont turn it.

    but, i dont think it is an issue with slippage at the converter. mine seems locked in 6, 5, and even 4th seems to be locked up but im not 100% on that gear. 5 and 6 im confident are always locked.

    my trans has been good with all of 47000 miles, and the one failure that i was able to ask about the driver said his temp pegged out shortly before failure.

    maybe lock-up clutch at converter failure causing slippage (heat) to wreak havoc?
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  9. #9
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    I think my 2005 3500 Express has a 4L80. At it's first transmission fluid change the fluid came out BLACK. I bought a bunch of fluid, disconnected the line from the output side and flushed that baby till it came out clean. Then I added a big True-Cool tranny cooler in front of the radiator and a gauge in the dash. Also added a drain plug and have been swapping out 7 quarts every year or so. Fluid has remained clean and just over 100K now with a GVW over 12K.

    I used to have a friend that owned a transmission franchise, he told me that they used to target zip codes where there were a lot of higher weight SUVs registered with their mailers.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    @Willie B

    I quit reading after the 5th post or so.

    Quick question...Do you have the "Tap Shift" tranny? I ask because I own four of these. 6.0L with tap shift. One is th allison the others are the GM clone. I dont know the numbers or models.

    I do all my own wrenching. These things work every day, all day. They pretty much dont go down the road without a moron behind the wheel and a boat behind the truck. My guys are hard on the rolling stock. When we are done moving boats around they all push 9'2" boss vee's all winter.

    I have done two transfercases but the tranny's are bullet proof. 1 has 248K the other 306k. The newer two are low miles still.
    Miller Dynasty 280 DX, Lincoln 210 MP

  11. #11
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Allison is a whole different piece than the 6l90
    The allisons are tough...probably the strongest thing available in the gm line up.
    I just swapped out a high mileage 6.6...over 400k. Trans was allison and original. Still shifts great and that truck hauls a 38ft trailer loaded with steel.

  12. #12
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    im not much on auto trans for work period, i'd look for a good used NV4500

  13. #13
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    In the old days the challenges were bell housing, flywheel, and clutch. Adapt the driveshaft, you are in business. These days the electronics are the big mystery.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  14. #14
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Torque converter failure? Do you mean the lock up clutch is burning out or the converter itself is physically breaking apart? More info needed

  15. #15
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    The service department is a secretive place. They respond to all questions with "I don't know". The first two failures, symptoms were a shudder starting up a hill. This round it started to do that, within 15 miles it just accelerated, as the vehicle coasted. This was briefly intermittent, then a great deal of slip. At 3000 RPM, 28 MPH on the level was the best I could do. Up hill was a few miles per hour.

    I've never seen one dismantled, they aren't giving that information.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  16. #16
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    if you want a transmission to hold up longer than factory, i would recommend a performance transmission shop rebuild because they know the weak points of stock transmissions. i learned this with my allison behind my duramax.
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  17. #17
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Quote Originally Posted by duramax-rob View Post
    if you want a transmission to hold up longer than factory, i would recommend a performance transmission shop rebuild because they know the weak points of stock transmissions. i learned this with my allison behind my duramax.
    Yep, if my 4R100 ever dies I plan on either Brian's Truck Shop in Arkansas or John Woods in Cali. I have heard good things about Jasper as well.
    Miller Challenger 172
    Miller Thunderbolt AC/DC 225/150
    Miller Maxstar 150 STL
    Victor 100C
    Victor Journeyman
    Oxweld OA
    Harris O/A
    Smith O/A little torch

    No, that's not my car.

  18. #18
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    I've learned the transmission is the same as my son's 2500 HD. The torque converter may be different. He's had good service through two trucks with this tranny, totalling 200000 miles. I'm real suspicious the 3.42 gearing is overheating the torque converter. Towing the camper at 65 MPH uphill causes a lot of torque converter slip. The built transmission idea does seem like a solution.

    I talked to a builder, he wants me to check engine ground strap. A starter pulling maybe 200 amps grounding through the driveshafts could bugger bearings.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  19. #19
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    17 days since failure. Service department is well trained at excuses, and indifference. Maybe next week, maybe not.

    Willie
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  20. #20
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    "Transmisseeons is tricky business.
    Miller Challenger 172
    Miller Thunderbolt AC/DC 225/150
    Miller Maxstar 150 STL
    Victor 100C
    Victor Journeyman
    Oxweld OA
    Harris O/A
    Smith O/A little torch

    No, that's not my car.

  21. #21
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Have you checked your tranny cooler? They like to stay cool.
    Miller Dynasty 280 DX, Lincoln 210 MP

  22. #22
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Let me expand. I have several of these. My 03 version had an issue at one point. The solution was to upgrade the tranny cooler as we determined it was over heating at times. That particular truck did not have the "towing option. It was a 2500 hd but somehow the cooler was different. I believe we replaced the radiator and some new tranny cooler lines and problem solved. We caught it before any real damage. It manifested as an issue where it would not drop down and lock into gear for hill climbs and such.

    Has 300 K + now.

    I do hesitate to post here because I need to "knock on wood" each time and that hurts my head.
    Miller Dynasty 280 DX, Lincoln 210 MP

  23. #23
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    So far I have resisted the urge to mess with it. GM would love to void my warranty. Last time, they started off with the "You modified the truck with 4x4 conversion" card. I countered: "No you don't. I bought this truck from you. GM, and Hand (Langway's predecessor) assured me this is fully warranted".

    I never realized they would be willing to throw new parts at it without even wondering what caused the failure.

    If this happens again, I'm going to jump off a roof. It seems I need two vans just to have my self propelled toolbox. Been working out of my son's pickup, I hate pickups. I can reach everything in my van standing on the ground. Standing on the top of a four foot ladder, I still can't reach the tie downs on my ladder on the roof!

    I think the warranty is limited at 130,000. My last Quigley lasted far beyond that. After warranty, I think I'll have the local transmission shop improve the thing. I have a sense it's torque converter slip overheating fluid that precipitates into a failure. Each fail has come long before recommended service intervals.
    Last edited by Willie B; 10-14-2017 at 07:59 AM.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  24. #24
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    Quote Originally Posted by jakedaawg View Post
    Have you checked your tranny cooler? They like to stay cool.
    Good point, and i bet it would help. I've been wanting to plumb up a external cooler for my 700r4 (as it does get to hot sometimes) in my half ton in front of the radiator, but just never get around to doing it. actually want to do two of them, and bypass the radiator cooler, so i never have to worry about antifreeze getting in the trans

  25. #25
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    Re: Bad transmission: Chevrolet

    This one is separate from the radiator. Your point is a good one. Until the warranty expires anything I do must be limited to encouraging service people to do what is needed. Sadly, their focus is on doing what GM corporation tells them to do. GM tells them to replace a torque converter, that is what they do. Old contaminated oil left from a torque converter tearing itself apart is ignored. I've no reason to think they changed the filter first time around.

    Second time, the service advisor(A middle woman who makes no pretence of knowing anything about mechanics) called me to ask if I wanted the oil, and filter changed? Red lights, and sirens started going off in my brain! What about last time?????????????

    I recently talked to somebody at Quigley, the 4x4 conversion company. She read from the first torque converter repair print out; The dealer charged for two quarts of fluid. They topped it up after losing some, but did not replace!

    I believe if I had the opportunity to talk to the mechanic I could see longer life from these parts. The problem can be fixed. Langway Motors is not interested in solving a problem. If I have ten failures in 130,000 miles, they get paid to replace 10 transmissions. They don't care that fresh oil, a new filter, or flushing the cooler would cure the problem permanently.

    Manufacturers think of a lease market. After 3 or four years, it will pass out of warranty, become somebody else's problem. They have no interest in long term solutions, or the number of weeks i have no tool box. I'm at about 6 weeks without my truck for this problem, Add a brake line I waited three days for when about a year old, that's a lot of time waiting for a truck I need for my livelihood.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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