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Old 11-29-2012, 09:20 AM   #1
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Transmission issue, completely lost...

I looked and looked with the search feature, but cannot find an answer that helps me...

'97 TJ, 2.5 liter, 3-speed automatic, basically stock everything except 15x10 steel rims/31x10.5x15 tires/cold air intake/aluminum radiator/deep tranny pan/complete exhaust from header to tailpipe...

Last fall after purchasing and driving the vehicle home (craigslist purchase) I discovered the transmission fluid had a significant amount of water in it. Needless to say on my 3rd outting the transmission failed. I completely rebuilt the tranmission (all friction materials/steels, etc...), replaced the converter with one from Autozone, installed a new lock-up solenoid, and installed the biggest transmission cooler in front of the radiator that I could sqeeze in there. The transmission, including valve body, was completely taken apart and cleaned very very well. I got it all back together and it drove like a champ for approx. 5,000 miles. NO off-road, no beatings, just driving Mrs. Daisey...

Fast forward to now. One day shifts and drives like brand new. The next orning I get in and lock-up doesn't work. Shifts 1st thru 3rd like a champ still. NO slipping, hesitation, nothing except the lock-up never working. Drove it on short outtings for a week like that. Next morning, get in, drive down the road, jumps up to 4grand on the tach, quits pulling in all gears inckuding reverse, and just sits there. The fluid still looks/smells brand new?! I have NO clue what is going on...

Any advice...

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Old 11-29-2012, 10:44 AM   #2
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Oh man, I hate to read of things heading south like that after doing the things you did to make the transmission right again. My guess at this point is the torque converter itself is the problem. With it shifting fine before & then the lock-up stopping just before this, I'd just have to suspect the torque converter first. I'd find a small tranny shop that specializes in torque converters (I have a customer who does almost nothing but repair torque converters) and ask their opinion.

Good luck with it and let us know what the problem ends up being.

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Old 11-29-2012, 11:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford
Oh man, I hate to read of things heading south like that after doing the things you did to make the transmission right again. My guess at this point is the torque converter itself is the problem. With it shifting fine before & then the lock-up stopping just before this, I'd just have to suspect the torque converter first. I'd find a small tranny shop that specializes in torque converters (I have a customer who does almost nothing but repair torque converters) and ask their opinion.

Good luck with it and let us know what the problem ends up being.
I agree,

Atleast for him the torque converter is comparatively simple compared to a rebuild on his tranny. That's the good news.
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:10 AM   #4
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I pulled the transmission/transfer case out from underneath the Jeep. I tilted the engine back slightly, and just left everything hooked up to it. I am going to take the convertor to Fort Wayne tomorrow, or Monday, to have it tested. I hope that's all that's wrong. I honestly don't know a single person who actually had a convertor go bad though so I'm not sure how this is going to play out...
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:22 PM   #5
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Your problem may not end up being a bad torque converter but they go bad often enough that one of my customers makes his living rebuilding them. Best of luck with it, I REALLY hope it is nothing more than just a bad torque converter.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:35 AM   #6
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I took the torque converter to a transmission shop in Fort Wayne that has good reviews online. I explained my issues to their converter guy, and he took me back in the shop and let me watch him cut the converter open on the lathe. Once he got it open we could see that the clutch lining material was completely shot and at least one of the springs was broken.
He said it looked like the transmission fluid has water in it. That's why the transmission failed the first time! He said maybe the radiator cooler was leaking water into the fluid. When I rebuilt the transmission the first time I installed a brand new radiator, and external transmission cooler just to be safe. I checked the coolant and their is no oil residue in it. He suggested running the transmission lines through the external cooler alone, and says it doesn't need to run through the raditor's cooler at all.
All that being said, now I need to go through the transmission itself to see if any of the clutch lining got into the internals, or if there is water damage there as well. I love doing things more than once :/
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:52 AM   #7
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I'm in fort wayne, if you need a hand let me know..How many miles were on the Jeep when you bought it?
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:55 AM   #8
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Thank you for the offer. I appreciate it. The Jeep has always had somewhat over size tires on it from what I was told when I got it so I've no real idea of actual miles, but it read 18X,XXX when I picked it up...
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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If your radiator is leaking coolant into the tranny cooler part, replace the radiator. The transmission does benefit by being connected to it rather than just to a cooler. The transmission cooler is not just for cooling the transmission, it is also supposed to help warm up the automatic transmission on cold mornings... which is why the transmission cooler is integrated into the radiator and is not separate. So it both warms and cools the transmission... it helps keep the transmission in a band of temperatures so it operates properly.
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:44 PM   #10
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Yes, good point. I think I'll take the transmission lines off the radiator cooler, and pressurize the two fittings at the same time to see if I get any air coming up through the radiator.
I personally think it's the transmission pump vent hole that is letting water into the transmission. I need to run the vent out of the bellhousing and up the firewall along side the transfer case vent/hose...
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:41 AM   #11
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Well, water was definetly the culprit once again leading to the demise of my transmission. The previous owner submerged the Jeep in water, and it flooded the transmission through the vent hole located at the transmission pump. Well, I keep her on the road and I still got enough water in there to destroy it yet again. It didn't show any signs of antifreeze coolant from the radiator, just plain water. I didn't have a transmission torque converter cover/dust shield installed the entire time I drove it so I think everytime it rained I was allowing excess water to get in through the vent. The bottom of my Jeep is always drenched everytime I drive in the rain. The Yokohamas really throw the rain water everywhere as I drive. I took the front pump out, separated the pump halves, and tapped the vent hole with an 1/8" npt tap, and installed a fitting in there with lock-tite. I then epoxied the back side to further help it seal and keep from vibrating loose. I then drilled the bellhousing to allow a 1/4" hardline to go from the fitting to the outside of the bell, and up the firewall (w/hose of course). I epoxied a couple of strong magnets in the Mopar deep pan as well. The converter has been rebuilt, and I have a quart of ATF+4 soaking in it. The transission should be back from the builders later this coming week...
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:26 PM   #12
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Finally got it all back together last night. Softer 1-2 and 2-3 shifts than it had before replacing the frictions and converter for some reason, but all seems well thus far on two 15 minute test drives...

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