Transmission works again after shutting engine off

BanditGTP

Silver Supporter
Here's a new one for me. Today I just hit 340k miles on my 03 Envoy XL with 4.2 and thought that was the end of it. I haven't been having any transmission problems before today. Just drove 230 miles yesterday no problems at all.

While driving this morning at highway speed I thought I heard a different noise (very faint) I never remember hearing before. I couldn't tell if it was a whining, vibration or what but the truck was driving completely like normal. Once I got to much slower speeds in stop and go traffic, that's where it all went downhill. The noise I was hearing from inside the truck was almost like the noise of a bad fan clutch but not as loud. I also started to notice the transmission seemed like it was slipping. Since I use this truck for work and I was 1 1/2 hours from home, I planned to continue on my day and try to baby it.

I had 5 jobs to go to and each time I left one job and headed for the next, everything seemed fine. Transmission wasn't slipping and the noise was gone. About 10-15 minutes into the drive between locations, the symptoms would return. After my last stop, I had a 1hr 20min ride (60 mile) to get back home. I was pretty close to the highway and was able to get gong at highway speed before any symptoms returned. The entire ride at highway speed was uneventful.

I thought the symptoms were going away because the truck was cooling off for 30 minutes each time at each job. When I got home I pulled directly into my driveway (which is a small incline) and checked the fluids in case that was the problem. The trans fluid looked a little low so I went to pick some up. When I pulled out of the driveway, I had no reverse and it would barely go into first gear. I did all of this while never shutting the truck off after my ride home. I parked it in the street and figured I would let it cool off again before heading out. 20 minutes later it started up and drove fine again. After 10 minutes of driving, the symptoms returned. At the store, I topped of the trans fluid but again after 10 minutes, the symptoms returned.

When I got home, I listened under the truck while revving the engine and it sounds like something rattling (internally). I can't pinpoint where the noise is coming from. I thought to myself, this is finally the end :cry: but I tried shutting the truck of and restarting it right away and the noise was gone and I also took it for a quick ride around the block and didn't have any issue. So I'm thinking the symptoms weren't going away because the truck was cooling down. It was just a matter that the truck was shut off and the symptoms went away.

Sorry for the long story...Now's the big question. Do you guys think the tranny is toast? If so, why are the symptoms going away. If it's not a toasted tranny, then what Does anyone have an idea what's causing it?

Thanks
 
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BanditGTP

BanditGTP

Silver Supporter
It's definitely been a while since it's been changed and should probably be changed along with the filter.

I would understand if dirty/old fluid would be causing the tranny to slip but would that be the cause of the rattling sound and then also the problems to go away after shutting the truck off and then restarting it?
 

Beacon

Well-Known Member
I had no reverse and it would barely go into first gear.
How do you mean, "barely go into first"?
do you mean, the shifter didn't want to move? Or do you mean, there was a long pause, before the transmission shifted into first and feel that little nudge while your foot is on the brake?
 
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BanditGTP

BanditGTP

Silver Supporter
The shifter was working fine. What I meant would be better described as if you were driving a manual trans and had it in first gear and you were still holding down the clutch. Then it would be as if you were releasing the clutch just enough for the car to roll but it definitely wouldn’t be completely engaged. I hope that makes sense.
 
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BanditGTP

BanditGTP

Silver Supporter
I just finished dropping the pan and changed the filter. Good news is NO metal fragments in the pan. I also changed the shift solenoids since I had the pan off. I'm just waiting for my Dexron VI to be delivered so I can refill. Hopefully the fluid and filter change might help.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
What did the fluid look like? Smelly? Lots of sludge in the bottom?
 
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BanditGTP

BanditGTP

Silver Supporter
It was dark but not sludge. The bottom of the pan had a shine to it that I think would be a sign of normal wear.

I followed the process I found on here that linked to a YouTube video of disconnecting the line from the trans cooler and using the running engine to flush through the fluid. After refilling and taking it for a test drive it seemed like everything was back to normal. I went on a 20 minute ride and made sure to hit a lot of stop signs to copy how I was driving the other day when it occurred. Since I was driving local streets, the fastest I got was 60mph so I would still need to get it on the highway but so far so good.
 
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BanditGTP

BanditGTP

Silver Supporter
Just wanted to update on truck. I've put 1300 miles on it since the fluid, filter and solenoid change and so far so good. I did notice 2x it almost seemed like the trans was possibly slipping when I was rolling to a stop but then got back on the gas quickly. I'm not sure if I caught it exactly when it was changing gears or what but I just left off the gas and when I stepped back on the gas it was fine.

I also noticed yesterday when I rotated the tires, there was A LOT of play in the right side front axle where it goes into the front differential. I don't mean the joint on the axle itself, I mean where the axle goes into the differential. It has play in and out and it has a lot of play if I move it back and forth. I know if should definitely be more solid than it currently is. Not being familiar of exactly how the front differential works, would a faulty (broken) front differential cause the entire drivetrain to act as if the trans was shot or would it just cause the front wheels not be able to be engaged.

Thanks guys for the responses.
 
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Wawuce

Member
I just finished dropping the pan and changed the filter. Good news is NO metal fragments in the pan. I also changed the shift solenoids since I had the pan off. I'm just waiting for my Dexron VI to be delivered so I can refill. Hopefully the fluid and filter change might help.
Which solenoids did you change? I have an 04 tb with the same issue. Has 200,000 on it and does the same thing yours did. I plan on changing filter and fluid also. May as well try the solenoids.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
@Wawuce -- Here's a picture for reference:

1584152484389.png

Orientation - 'Front' side of trans is to the right. You can see the round inspection cover / bottom of the bellhousing, on the far RH side. Just in back of it, and in the middle, you see a round hole - that's where the filter 'snout' inserts into the case. So this is a view with the filter off.

At the opposite end (the 'back'), you'll see two yellow retaining clips, just below midpoint? Those are your two shift solenoids. Depending on how many miles are on your trans, those clips could be white, but years of being submerged in trans fluid will likely have them looking more yellow.

To replace:

Carefully lift the latch clip at the raised lip, and push forward, alternate sides, little by little, to unseat the plug from the solenoid. You don't need to lift much, and once the latch has cleared the tab, just concentrate on unseating the plug. Don't gorilla it off, but it'll need a little bit of a push to unseat it. If you break the clip, you'll probably be able to seat the plug back in and it will hold OK -- the clip / latch is more of a safeguard -- but try not to break the clip.

The solenoids themselves are held in with a wire clip that's accessed from the 'slots' in the valve body just before the little round 'loops'. You'll need to remove the clip with a pick tool, before the solenoid can be pulled out.

Note: If you see the ends of the wire clip on each side of the slot, use your pick tool to spin either end of the clip around so that the ends are facing up (away from you). The wire clip can spin 360, so don't worry about what 'end' / direction you're moving. Just get the flat end facing downward, toward you (parallel with the slot).

Have a finger on the outer edge of the solenoid when you remove the retaining clip - one of them has a spring behind it, and you don't want to launch the solenoid & what sits behind it out of the VB.
Then use your pick tool to pull the wire clip down & out of the slot.

Do NOT push 'up' on the two ends of the wire clip to free the solenoid, or the clip will dislodge in the VB, and you may not be able to get it out without pulling the VB, which is a lot more work that you don't want to have to do.

Once the clip is removed, you can pull the solenoid straight back, and out of the VB. Each has an o-ring - make sure it comes out attached to the solenoid. If not, you'll need to fish around for it (but it should be attached.) To see what the solenoid itself looks like, click HERE

Installation is the proverbial 'reverse of removal'. No need to lift the plastic clip to reseat the plug - it'll push right past. Use the picture above for reference, if you need to. Note that they're interchangeable, so if you order two of them, don't worry about mixing them up. As long as two new ones take the place of the old ones, you're golden.

Don't forget to re-insert the wire retaining clips (and they don't have to be spun around back to the way you found them -- just make sure they're fastened around the solenoid and are retaining it. Give the solenoid a little tug, to make sure.

If you find it easier to attach the plug before inserting the solenoid into the VB, that's fine, but just be careful with the wires attached to it - you'll have less room to maneuver the solenoid if you connect the plug first.

Note that you didn't have to touch one screw on the valve body to do this. That's what you want.

Your pan goes back on and torques to about 9 ft-lb (or 108 in-lb, if you have the 1/4" torque wrench). Double check that, because I'm quoting from memory, not a manual. Best to tighten in two steps if you can (5 ft-lb, then finish at 9 ft-lb), alternating sides, not doing each bolt sequentially. After the second round, then go around one more time to dbl check, and sequentially is fine, for that.

If this sounds overwhelming, it's not meant to be -- it's fairly easy to replace the solenoids, once you know how. But if you don't understand this after reading through it a couple of times, have someone do this for you.
 
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Wawuce

Member
Thank you for that thorough description. By any chance do you know the part #'s? I have the 4.2 engine with awd/4wd. Just want to make sure i get the right ones. I plan on doing this when the weather is warmer. Right now its still in the 30's here. Also is there a transmission identifier that you can find out the transmission by the vin?
 
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Reprise

Lifetime VIP Supporter
All GMT360s / 370s / 375s except the ones with 6.2L engines (TBSS, some Saabs (?)) have the 4L60E transmission - 4.2L and 5.3L alike.

The hyperlink I put in my response has the GM part # in the item description (you don't have to get it from Amazon; they just 'conveniently' came up first on search results for '4L60E shift solenoid'.
 

Wawuce

Member
Well I finally got to do this job. Went pretty well I think. Something doesn’t seem right though. I replaced both solenoids and filter. Put everything back together. Put 5 quarts of transmission fluid in. Went for a ride. It shifted a lot better. After driving it for a few days I noticed a few things. When driving it has a tendency to feel like it’s in neutral. Not all the time. Only when I try to accelerate. If I punch the gas hard it revs but doesn’t shift. The tach goes up. Not sure if that’s another solenoid issue or not. Hope not. I took a ride to the gas station 15 miles each way and thought about the fluid level. When I checked it on level ground it showed nothing on the stick. That was with me adding the 5 quarts already. Not sure how much exactly it takes. I read somewhere it was 5 quarts. When I took out the solenoid from each spot I am 99% sure I didn’t lose anything when I put the new ones in. I didn’t see any parts laying around after doing this. After I finished the job I went to advanced auto to dump the used fluid. The lady didn’t want to dump it so I did. When I dumped it I didn’t see anything in the fluid. I am definitely mechanically inclined to do this. Been doing mechanics for 30 years plus thanks to my dad so I’m pretty comfortable with this. Just trying to figure this out. I added some more tranny fluid when I got back home tonight. Probably about two quarts. Going to check the level in the morning. If you have any insight I would love to hear it. It would really suck to redo this again.
 

christo829

Well-Known Member
When my cooler lines blew out, my trans acted similarly due to low fluid after I had fixed the leak, until I got the levels right. Five quarts after a pan drop and filter change is kind of a ball park figure, not exact. Hopefully it will behave better now that you have more fluid in it.

Good Luck!

Chris
 

Wawuce

Member
When my cooler lines blew out, my trans acted similarly due to low fluid after I had fixed the leak, until I got the levels right. Five quarts after a pan drop and filter change is kind of a ball park figure, not exact. Hopefully it will behave better now that you have more fluid in it.

Good Luck!

Chris
Just got back from another drive. Still acts up. I checked the fluid level and it sits just under the hot line on the stick. That gives me a total of 7 quarts. This is really driving me crazy. I recorded a video of the shifting but can’t figure out how to upload it.
 

Blckshdw

Moderator
Just got back from another drive. Still acts up. I checked the fluid level and it sits just under the hot line on the stick. That gives me a total of 7 quarts. This is really driving me crazy. I recorded a video of the shifting but can’t figure out how to upload it.
You need to put it on a streaming service like Youtube, and then when you post the link here, it will embed the video
 

Mooseman

Moderator
So it's not shifting up from 2 to 3. Have you tried using the shifter to manually make it shift? I'm not a tranny expert but this could be an issue with the valve body, possibly a check ball that punched through the plate.

Noticed your CEL on. Do you have any codes?
 

Wawuce

Member
So it's not shifting up from 2 to 3. Have you tried using the shifter to manually make it shift? I'm not a tranny expert but this could be an issue with the valve body, possibly a check ball that punched through the plate.

Noticed your CEL on. Do you have any codes?
The codes were air temp sensor and vvt sensor. Needs an oil change. I haven’t tried the manual shift yet. I put the truck up on blocks today. Going to try and look at it tomorrow after I get out. So much for the new fluid. Not sure if I messed something up when I put the pan back on. Just trying to re trace my steps. The truck has just 200k on it. The initial problem was that it wouldn’t shift until it got to a certain rpm. Then it would catch. When I would come to a stop then it would happen again. If I shut the truck off and start it up...works perfect. Read on here that it would
probably be the shift solenoids. Changed them both. Had no extra parts left over. Changed the filter and gasket also. Wondering if the filter might have fallen. Who knows. If it’s the valve body; that’s something I can do. Just hate to shell out the money if it doesn’t fix it. That’s something we all hate. I’m going to drop the pan tomorrow and take a really good look and some pictures. Just hoping it’s something simple and cheap. Not wanting to drop a transmission in it. Could the valve body cause the initial problem with the shifting? Just wondering. Thanks for replying to my post. I appreciate it more than you know.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
I doubt very much it's the filter as it rests at the bottom of the pan so it can't drop UNLESS you used the wrong filter. If you used a filter for a shallow pan and you have a deep pan, even if it didn't drop out, could cause fluid problems. The vast majority have the deep pan.

Because you had issues before and they continued after, it is quite possible there is an issue with the valve body. Could also be other problems with internals like accumulators and clutch apply. This might become a deep rabbit hole. At this mileage, it could just be done.

Again, I'm not a tranny guru.
 

Wawuce

Member
I doubt very much it's the filter as it rests at the bottom of the pan so it can't drop UNLESS you used the wrong filter. If you used a filter for a shallow pan and you have a deep pan, even if it didn't drop out, could cause fluid problems. The vast majority have the deep pan.

Because you had issues before and they continued after, it is quite possible there is an issue with the valve body. Could also be other problems with internals like accumulators and clutch apply. This might become a deep rabbit hole. At this mileage, it could just be done.

Again, I'm not a tranny guru.
So if manual shifting is fine what do you think it could be. I am grateful for any input. It helps me out more than you know.
 

6716

Well-Known Member
It could be the 3-4 clutch pack at this point. Probably the other things were wrong and a pan drop and solenoids helped some other issues, AND the 3-4 clutch pack going out is one of the most common problems with the 4L60E. I pulled my transmission down, had it rebuilt, and put it back up myself (ok, with a buddy). But honestly the $2500-ish to have a shop rebuild it seems fair (and faster) in retrospect for me.
 

Wawuce

Member
And the only way to tell is by pulling the transmission. Correct? It’s a toss up on what to do. The truck has 200k on it. Motor has a tick(been there when I bought it in 2014). Put new front end parts(ball joints, tie rods, rear shocks, sway bar end links). If I pull the valve body; what am I looking for? Not really wanting to sink a ton of $$ in this. Do I just sell it as is and buy something else or try to salvage it. It drives great. Got new tires at Christmas. I need some help figuring out what to do.
 

6716

Well-Known Member
Well, Mooseman mentioned to look at the separator plate that goes between the valve body and the rest of the transmission. There are some metal BBs on the side of the separator plate away from the valve body. If you take the valve body off and there is a BB on the valve body side of the plate, then you could replace the plate. There is a Transgo kit that I used to do the valve body repair. I think the plate came with that.

The valve body work I did was great and did what I needed it to ... right up until the 3-4 clutch plates burned out and I had the whole thing rebuilt. I was at 235,000 miles when the 3-4 clutch pack went. It is not uncommon for the 3-4 to fail at some point with this transmission, especially with high mileage and some time with old and/or too little fluid (like I ran mine for a while trying to figure out what was wrong with it).

You can get into the valve body without pulling the transmission. You could go the valve body route, see what you learn, and if it still doesn't work then you might be looking at a full rebuild.
 

Wawuce

Member
Well, Mooseman mentioned to look at the separator plate that goes between the valve body and the rest of the transmission. There are some metal BBs on the side of the separator plate away from the valve body. If you take the valve body off and there is a BB on the valve body side of the plate, then you could replace the plate. There is a Transgo kit that I used to do the valve body repair. I think the plate came with that.

The valve body work I did was great and did what I needed it to ... right up until the 3-4 clutch plates burned out and I had the whole thing rebuilt. I was at 235,000 miles when the 3-4 clutch pack went. It is not uncommon for the 3-4 to fail at some point with this transmission, especially with high mileage and some time with old and/or too little fluid (like I ran mine for a while trying to figure out what was wrong with it).

You can get into the valve body without pulling the transmission. You could go the valve body route, see what you learn, and if it still doesn't work then you might be looking at a full rebuild.
So if I went the valve body route; what’s the going price to get for the kit?
 

Mooseman

Moderator

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