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Old 10-28-2017, 12:32 PM   #1
AceGambit
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Dizzy trans shifts hard

So I'm having this issue where I will be driving around town and all of a sudden the maintenance light will come on (picture of a car with a wrench inside it) and right after it does the transmission will start to shift hard. any suggestions?

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Old 10-28-2017, 05:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

Year, make, model, engine, mileage, maintenance done, parts replaced? Tried reading for codes?

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Old 10-29-2017, 09:22 AM   #3
soulsurvives
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

I bet the op has a v6 with over 100k on it. Sounds like the transmission solenoid needs to be replaced. It's about 40 bucks for the part and a few hours to replace. If you take the car to a transmission shop they will tell you a new transmission is needed. I replaced this on my wife's car and have not had an issue since.

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Old 10-29-2017, 09:39 AM   #4
Claybury
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

Have the MAF scanned for correct readings. A bad MAF will cause the hard shift long before it throws codes.
The transmission computer uses the MAF reading to determine engine load and shift points. When it gets bad sensor data it gets confused and goes into self protection mode, which happens to be fast hard shifts.

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Old 10-29-2017, 03:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

Your Saturn has 2 check lights. One is the "Check Engine" light, the other is the "Wrench" light. The Check Engine light will illuminate when a code is thrown that is EMISSIONS related. The Wrench light is illuminated when a NON emissions issue occurs. The reasons for the Wrench light can be many from as little as a burned out bulb.

So if you have a malfunctioning MAF sensor, then that should throw a code because it's Emissions related and the Check Engine light comes on. Because you have not said the CEL light is on, it's safe to say it's not Emissions related.

All that said, my son has a 2003 L300 V6 that has done exactly the same as yours, that is hard shifting and the wrench light coming on. When the wrench light comes on and the tranny shifts hard, pull over, switch off the car, the restart. I think you will find it will immediately go away, but will come on again sooner than later.

Because the Wrench light is coming on and the tranny is shifting hard, there WILL be a code thrown BUT unless you have someone with a Tech11 code reader, and ordinary reader will not detect it. A Tech11 will be able to detect the tranny code thrown and pinpoint your issue.

As has been said earlier, I think you will find that the tranny requires the replacement of a solenoid or 2. The main ones are the Pressure Solenoid and the the 1-2 solenoid and 3-4 solenoid. In all probability it's the pressure solenoid.

Whilst the parts are not expensive, it's getting to replace them that is the bugbear. There are a few threads here that give some insight into the job. The solenoids are located on the side of the tranny casing on the drivers side. To get to them you have to remove the drivers side wheel. Drive shaft and loosen the subframe. You basically have to lower the tranny enough to get access to the side panel of the tranny. Once that side panel is off, you simply remove and replace the offending solenoids and then button everything back up. I have not covered every step, so do not take what I have said as the definitive to do the job. You have to drop the tranny oil pan, remove the oil, remove the filter.

It is a longish job and you should allow a weekend to do it with ease. The biggest issue you may have are loosening the subframe bolts as they are held with captive nuts. Often folks hit the dreaded rust.

When we took my son's car to the tranny shop, they connected it up to a Tech11 reader and confirmed the solenoid issue BUT as the tranny had 125,000 under it's belt, they suggested a tranny replacement which came out more than what I'd paid for the car. The Technicians advice was also that if the car was just being used for short journeys, we could could get away with the issue for a long time, but if the car did regular long journeys, it would need sorting. My son doesn't do long journeys, so his issue persists. In well over a year, it hasn't got worse and has stayed the same. More importantly my cash stays in my wallet!

One final piece of advice is if the car hasn't had the tranny fluid/filter changed in your ownership, for the cost involved it would be worth doing. Just one tip and that is the L series does NOT have a tranny fluid level dipstick! You would have to estimate what volume of fluid went back in and you can always use the fluid overflow plug under the car, which like a diff plug, will overflow when you have the right level of fluid in. But just to make life even harder for you, the car has to be level on all fours and without a garage lift, you have a hard time getting underneath to check it. Thank You GM from the heart of my bottom for such a dumb piece of engineering, just to save $1.50 on a dipstick!

Anyway, hope this helps.

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Old 10-30-2017, 07:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

Yeah my wife's car ran with this issue for almost a year before I fixed it. Took me about 3-4 hours to get it done. I have a post on here with pics somewhere LOL.

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Old 10-30-2017, 03:12 PM   #7
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridasl22002 View Post
So if you have a malfunctioning MAF sensor, then that should throw a code because it's Emissions related and the Check Engine light comes on. Because you have not said the CEL light is on, it's safe to say it's not Emissions related.
This is completely incorrect. As stated before the MAF will give bad data long before it throws a code. Codes are set for signal high, signal low, and data out of range by 8:1 at idle. In between these is a lot of gray area.
This engine uses a thin film MAF sensor that is easily damaged by water impingement. The L car intake likes to eat water. The only way to test the MAF readings is to watch the live data on a scanner and see if the readings are within 3-8 g/s at idle and are steady. If it's not you can fully expect transmission slam.
Since the MAF is on top, easy to scan, and cheap it is a far better place to start than to immediately start ripping into the tranny.

Don't blame the Engineers for the lack of a dip stick. Blame the politicians and lawyers. Politicians decided a transmission should go 100K miles without service and lawyers decided if there was a dipstick you were admitting it had to have service.

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Old 10-30-2017, 04:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: trans shifts hard

Since the OP, AceGambit, has not yet revisited the website to confirm the vehicle information requested by fdryer in post #2, any discussion regarding a MAF sensor at this point seems a bit premature. It could be that he has an L-Series car, but what if it's an S-Series car and he made a classic new member error by posting a concern in the wrong sub-forum area? We just don't know yet. Hopefully, the OP will reply soon.

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Last edited by pierrot; 10-30-2017 at 04:29 PM..

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