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Thread: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

  1. #1
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    AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Hi all,

    I just got back to CA and got my '87 4x4 automatic TV out of the garage. We leave it here in the summer and use it for our ski season. It was working fine when I parked it in April.

    I was headed for the ski hill yesterday, first time I had the van out since we got back here. It shifts into gear with no problem, takes off normally in 1st gear, but I have to rev it up to about 25 mph to get it to shift into 2nd, at which time it "lurches" into gear. I have to go about 50 mph to get it to shift into Drive, but that is a smooth shift. I haven't gone out of town, so I'm not sure what it would act like going into OD. I thought that it might act better if it warmed up and I drove it a bit, but that wasn't the case. I drove about 6 miles to Heavenly and went skiing, then drove a couple miles to do some shopping, then drove back home. I definitely got it up to normal temps, so it doesn't appear to be just a cold tranny situation.

    I also tried to "force" it to shift by revving up and then backing off on the throttle. That resulted in the van "free-wheeling" until I revved it back up to the engine speed that matched the travel speed (sort of felt like pushing in the clutch on a manual and giving it gas).

    I know I saw a thread, either here or TVP, that dealt with this issue, but I couldn't find it, so I'm asking here.

    I've seen similar issues and the responses have been: Try Lucas tranny fixer and rebuild the valve body.

    I'm heading down to Napa to get some Lucas and see if there is maybe something gumming up a check ball or journal or something.

    If anyone has any thoughts, though, I'd be happy to hear them.

    Thanks,
    Scott

    (Update on my '88 head gasket project: I got the head done and back on the van, but we needed to bring our trailer with us this year, so we drove the Subaru. I still have to get the "peripherals" back on the '88 when we get back to MN)

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    If it "lurches" into 2nd, then it's not slipping......sounds like a shifting problem. The most likely thing is a sticky kick-down cable. It's the cable from the tranny that attaches to the throttle body. Disconnect it at the throttle body and work it back and forth to make sure it travels smoothly. If it doesn't easily retract on it's own, then that's your problem. Tim

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I just got back from Napa with the Lucas, but I will look at the cable before I pour the Lucas in. I'll let you know what comes of this, soon.

    Scott

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Well, it's definitely that cable. I can't seem to be able to see where it goes on the tranny end, though. I'm going to see if I can find a picture somewhere.

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Changing that cable sucks. I changed it on an automatic 4wd once. The bad part about the job is access to the transmission end. I ended up taking off the valve body as I couldn't see any other way. I don't remember all the details, but there are a lot of screws holding things together and not all of them are the same length. You CAN'T mix up the different lengths or there will be problems. Also, I think I had to mess with servos popping out and springs that had to be aligned when putting back together. The job was a success but it took way longer than I expected and there were frustrating moments. Of course I was working under the van and getting dripped on, so that didn't help. If you have mechanical experience and feel comfortable doing jobs like head gaskets etc, then it's probably within your skill set. If you have any reservations, then I'd probably just pay a tranny shop to do it.

    If you are able to move the cable at all, then it might be worth trying to save by lubricating. Most penetrating oils will work, but I'd recommend getting something specific for cables at a motorcycle shop (my favorite is Tri-Flow with Teflon). Motorcycle places also sell "cable lubrication devices" but I've found plastic wrap to work just as well. If you go the plastic wrap method put the plastic tube on the can of Tri-Flow, then lay it parallel to the cable butted up against the cable jacket. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap (to seal the tube against the jacket and cable) and spray the lube into the cable jacket. I would spray for a solid 5 seconds, then remove the plastic wrap and try to exercise the cable. It may or may not work, but considering the PITA of replacement it's definitely worth a shot. Please report back with how things go. Tim

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Well, I'm going to give it a go. I was going to take it to a local tranny shop, but when I went in there, the guy was lacking the customer service skills that would have got me to give him up to $500 to do the job. He wanted $200 for the fluid and filter and whatever to drop the valve body, etc. I wanted an appointment, so I could wait for the job to be done, but he wouldn't go there, saying that I expected him to drop everything for me. I walked out and went to Napa and I'll be doing the job for $42. Good thing there's no snow here, so I can take this on while we're waiting for winter.

    I'll watch for servos and springs. Thanks for pointing that out, as the manual didn't say, or show, anything about that. It does show that there are 17 bolts holding the valve body on and they are different lengths. The manual that I dl'd here did say that there is a section that shows which ones are which. I'll be under the van, getting dripped on, too, but I'll probably be happy when I'm done, having saved a couple hundred bucks. I've gotten to the point in life where I'm willing and able to pay a mechanic to do a lot of these type of things, but I've been wrenching on my own stuff since the 70's and have the ability, so I'll crawl under there and git 'r done. I'll update as I work through the project.

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    So the old "lubing the cable" trick didn't work? In the end, replacing is better anyhow. Tim

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    My kickdown cable broke. I remember sourcing a new OEM cable for around $225. The I did some general searches using the Toyota Parts # and found one for $75 (new). I'LL replace it when the trans fluid and filter are due for for maintenance. I've been driving with the cable disconnected at the throttle body. It only requires an occasional down shift, usually between 2nd-3rd, not too much of an inconvenience.

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    I'll be picking up the lube and the filter in the morning and pushing on with the project.

    There is a step in the TVT Service manual that you might have missed, Tim. It calls for a plate about 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" with a couple holes in it. You slip it in between the valve body and the tranny, as you are removing the valve body. You tighten it down with a couple of the pan bolts and it must hold in the springs and servos you mentioned. I'm hoping that I can get the cable to free up, but I am ready to drop the valve body, if need be.

    My cable looks to be in good shape at the throttle body end, and it looks like that is where it would be likely to wear, so we'll see. It's $136 and I have to order it from Toyota, but they do, at least, have one.

    My cable is stuck in the full throttle position, so I have to rev up to about 4,000 rpm, or something to get it to shift into a higher gear. It is kind of hanging out in the air, out of the linkage track, at the throttle body.

    I'll let you know how tomorrow goes.

    Thanks,
    Scott

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Quote Originally Posted by skibum View Post
    There is a step in the TVT Service manual that you might have missed, Tim. It calls for a plate about 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" with a couple holes in it. You slip it in between the valve body and the tranny, as you are removing the valve body. You tighten it down with a couple of the pan bolts and it must hold in the springs and servos you mentioned..............
    Well, that explains it . I didn't bother to read the manual when I did the job. I just went out there and did it . I guess I did it the hard way . Tim

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Yeah, I read through it about 3 or 4 times before I stopped and paid attention, too.

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    OK, here's an update.

    This was a fairly involved project, but not too technical, I don't think.

    A couple of things that I thought I'd pass on are:

    The "plate" that I made to retain the springs, etc. was about 1/8" thick. I made it out of some plastic that was a cubbyhole by the radio in the dash. It was a little thicker than it maybe needed to be. One of the problems that I had was that I got it in the coil of one of the springs, so it wouldn't go in all the way (as opposed to sliding under the end of the spring flush with the valve body plate). I let that be and just put one screw in to hold it in place. That held the spring that was hung up, so when I dropped the valve body I just had to back off the plate and push the spring up and I was OK. In hindsight, I'd probably put a bevel on the leading edge of the plate so that it would "slice" under the spring. Another little issue with this step that I would attempt to dodge is that I damaged the gasket that is between the upper and lower valve body. It was pretty brittle, so maybe it was unavoidable. I damaged it by sliding the plate in and out trying to get under that spring. I ended up buying both gaskets that go between the upper and lower valve body components @ $17.86 each. They are flat and could probably have been reused if I had been a little more careful, but I'm not sure that I'm not pleased that I was forced to replace them, as the new ones were a bit more pliable. In disassembling the valve body, there are check balls and springs that, while safe if you follow the directions in the service manual, can fall out if you pick up the valve body and tip it over. If you do, there are pictures that show the proper placement of these items.

    My cable was just hung up, so I went with the Tri-Flow lube and I got the cable sliding in and out smoothly. I couldn't really get a wrap on the spray tube due to the way the cable is made, but I was able to get to the sheathing and "squirt-slide-squirt-slide" several times, so I think I got a fair amount of lube into the cable. I did it daily, while I waited for the gaskets. I also treated myself to a couple of torque wrenches from Amazon. I was going to try to feel the torque that was specified, but found that I was a little light (48 inch pounds spec'd, but I probably had 40). I only paid $18 for the 3/8" drive that goes up to 80 foot pounds and $28 for the 1/4" drive that goes down to 20 inch pounds.

    I'm a 200# guy and I made some "ramps" out of 4 thicknesses of 2"x12" lumber, so the tires were 6" above the driveway. It was just enough room to get under there and be able to work. I'd probably try to get another 3 or 4 inches of lift if I did it again.

    I wanted to clean out the pan a bit better, so I am at that point in the process (I'll install the pan tomorrow). I had it bolted up to keep dust from blowing in while I waited for the gaskets and a fair amount more of tranny fluid drained out in those few days. I don't have any real concerns with finishing this up, but I'll confirm when I'm rolling down the road.

    Thanks,
    Scott

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Thanks for the pointers......all things to keep in mind if I do the job again. Hearing about your problems I guess my experience wasn't that bad. Dealing with springs and servos was a pain but at least all my gaskets separated nicely and I was able to re-use them. After all your effort it's sort of a shame to not have a new cable there. Hopefully the old one will last. Sounds like you'll reach your goal and have a correctly shifting transmission. Like my dad used to always say "you can't argue with success" . Tim

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Thanks for the concern regarding the cable. I made a judgement call based on the appearance of the cable, the circumstance of the issue and the age of the van.

    The cable was a little shiny where it runs through the linkage, but I didn't see any deformation of the cable, nor any fraying (throttle body and tranny end, both). The rubber boot on the cable is still intact and quite pliable, which I'm adding to my thoughts right now, as I'm writing this. Those seem to be reasonable indicators of re-use potential.

    The fact that the van sat over the summer suggested that there may have been some grit in the cable that needed to be loosened up a little. I did the spray lube application a couple dozen times and my hope is that the Tri-Flow wicked down in there and will keep that freed up. Additionally, the $136 cost had some bearing on not replacing it. It will suck if I have to replace it any time soon, but 6 quarts of tranny fluid and a $20 gasket and screen kit are all it should cost me if I do have to re-do it (I'll know to be careful regarding the valve body gaskets) and that will probably be beneficial regarding the fluid change interval (I'm getting better, as I get older, but I'm bad at those under the vehicle recommendations). I did check my differentials while I was under there, too, though.

    This van only has 140K on it, so most of the "wear" parts are still hanging in there.

    I can't fully update since I got sidetracked on a couple other projects today. I got the pan spiffed up, though, so will get that in in the morning. With no snow here in Tahoe, I've been attending to some of the fair weather, household jobs that I can't get to since we're not here in the summer.

    Thanks again,
    Scott

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Hey gang, my kick down cable decided to get stuck in the "out" position. My van basically won't shift up out of first because the kick down cable is stuck out as if I'm at full throttle. I've read this thread and others about replacing it, but I just don't have time to open up the valve body on the trans right now.

    If I cut the old cable right where it disappears into the trans, what are the odds that the valve/piece that is stuck in the tranny will be freed up?? I just plan on eliminating the cable completely for now and downshifting myself until I have time to properly replace it, but it's hard for me to picture what's going on inside the trans at the end of that cable.....I don't know what type of piece is actually being held/stuck in place and if it needs to physically be moved or if cutting the cable will (maybe) simply free it up. I'm going to try the tri-flow plastic wrap trick first, but if that doesn't work, I might need to cut that cable. Should I be getting my hopes up or is cutting the cable not going to free up that piece? Thank you van-people for any info you can give me!

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    It's been a while since I had trouble with the kick-down cable, but if memory serves, I wasn't getting an up-shift, so without the cable I'm thinking that you might be stuck in low gear. It's a PIA, sometimes, to do it right, but it usually pays in the long run.

    Good luck!

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Ok, I made some progress and wanted to keep the board updated in case anyone else has this problem again too.

    I didn't end up cutting the cable. Instead, I disconnected the cable from the throttle, and I held the cable housing in my left hand while I forced the actual cable back into the housing with a pair of needle nose pliers. It was an obvious thing to do but didn't occur to me until after an hour or two of scratching my head. I was able to push the cable back into its housing far enough that the van now shifts smoothly again. I left the cable disconnected on the engine end and just zip tied it out of the way. I imagine it won't downshift anymore, but I figure I'll do that myself. I wish my van were a manual trans anyway! I'll let you folks know how it goes but I think I made it drive-able until I fix it properly with a new cable. If I didn't need to drive the rig tomorrow, I'd spray tri-flow into the housing and pull the cable out and then force it back in with needle nose pliers over and over, but I rather not take the chance of getting the cable stuck "out" again. Hope this helps someone out in the future!

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Hey Skibum, thanks for the reply....you must have responded when I was typing so I didn't see it til just now. So far it seems that the van can shift up normally. My understanding is that if the cable is stuck "out," the van cannot upshift. So if the cable is removed/disconnected, as long as it is not stuck "out"/pulling on whatever is inside the trans, it will be able to up shift. I'll let you folks know if the lack of downshifting becomes a problem.

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Hey LallyTrek,

    Another thing I remembered was that I lubed the heck out of the cable. I used the Tri-Flow lube that Timsrv recommended, and was able to free up the cable, and get it working again. When you do decide to do something about a repair, read through this thread, as I documented some of the hurdles you might run in to. I would say this was about a 2 - 3 hour repair, aside from the time I waited for parts (which, as noted, gave me time to lube the cable generously). Best to have a service manual, just in case the check balls get out of wack, and it will help describe the "spring-keeper" step.

    Cheers!

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    Re: AT slipping after 6 months sitting

    Yup, I read your write-up....which is why I knew I didn't have time to get this done properly right now! I don't think I'm going to try and re-use my cable....the end of the housing is fraying and it generally looks like its past its prime. I'll be tracking down a replacement and doing a proper repair in the near future. Thanks again!

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