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Old 10-07-2019, 07:16 PM   #1
jpags729
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1999 SL2
Default 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

My 1999 Saturn SL2 has an MP7 auto trans with 129200 miles on it. Most recent trans service was back in Feb/March 2019 with Valvoline Dex/Merc, Lucas additive, and a Wix filter (performing the reverse slam cure). No issues since then except for the downshift from 4 outlined below.

So here's the scenario I have encountered: I was driving through the back roads as I normally do on my way home and was going through a school zone so mph limit was 35 then 25 in the zone then back up to 35. Knowing that the 25 zone was approaching I decided to let off the gas and let it coast to 25 mph/letting it downshift on its own. When doing this I heard the transmission downshifting (quite loud and buzzy) and the tachometer move rather slowly up and then back down while downshifting. I then started to give it gas at around 30 mph and while doing so noticed that the tach shot up to about 2300 and after a few seconds upshifted into 3rd, and then reaching 37mph it upshifted to fourth. Therefore, it seems that my transmission is downshifting from 4-2 rather than 4-3, which seems abnormal to me. What could be causing this to occur? All my upshifts are fine. No CELs. The only CEL I ever had was last winter with a Gear 1 ratio incorrect, which never came back after I changed the fluid. Could it be an issue in the TCC solenoid, LP solenoid? Or should I be solely looking at the 3rd gear solenoid? Appreciate any help!

TL;DR 99 SL2 makes long, pronounced downshift out of fourth, seems to skip 3rd and goes down to second at around 30mph...giving gas at around 30mph after said downshift leaves me in 2nd rather than 3rd

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Old 10-08-2019, 06:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Actually, it sounds like this is the normal way the automatic will downshift. It may seem a bit accentuated, but I'd say it was only because with your foot off the gas, and your slow descent to 25 mph just caught you up in it's normal UP-REVs sequence that your trans is designed to do.

Post back if something else were to develop on this shift sequence.

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Old 10-09-2019, 08:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Actually, it sounds like this is the normal way the automatic will downshift. It may seem a bit accentuated, but I'd say it was only because with your foot off the gas, and your slow descent to 25 mph just caught you up in it's normal UP-REVs sequence that your trans is designed to do.

Post back if something else were to develop on this shift sequence.
Hey toggenburg so I tested it again today with the same result. I also went down a road with a 45 mph to 25 mph zone, so this time decided to use the brakes to slow down and once again, as I approached 30 mph, I let off the brakes and put light pressure on the gas to hold it around 30 mph, and it still left me at the top of second rather than in 3rd, where I expected to be. Is that still normal? I can see 25 mph leaving me in second but 30 seems off. Thanks for the help!

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Old 10-09-2019, 09:24 PM   #4
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

If you do not have a good condition OEM TPS on ther strange things will happen. Finding a good OEM TPS is getting real difficult as well, junk yard only item and you have to figure out how to tell if the one you are pulling is actually OEM as the OEM and aftermarket are visually identical right down to the molded in part number.

If you touch the throttle you will change the shifts. Sounds to me like it might be an operator problem.

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Old 10-10-2019, 06:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
If you do not have a good condition OEM TPS on ther strange things will happen. Finding a good OEM TPS is getting real difficult as well, junk yard only item and you have to figure out how to tell if the one you are pulling is actually OEM as the OEM and aftermarket are visually identical right down to the molded in part number.

If you touch the throttle you will change the shifts. Sounds to me like it might be an operator problem.
As far as I know the TPS is the original. Would it trip a code if it were going bad? It may be me just being paranoid but how loud and prolonged the downshift is is what has me paying more, and possibly too much, attention to it. Just want to get everything squared away before winter.

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Old 10-10-2019, 09:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

It will not set any code except open, short to ground or short to voltage, out of range high or low.

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Old 10-10-2019, 09:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
It will not set any code except open, short to ground or short to voltage, out of range high or low.
Understood. Thanks!!!

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Old 10-14-2019, 04:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

A common failure mode for automatic transmissions, is that one of the many many clutch discs inside will loose a sliver of is lining/face. That sliver proceeds into the valve body, and causes a valve to jam and not move. Sooner or later, mores slivers jam more valves, and the transmission shifts through fewer and fewer gears.

I had this exact thing happen with a long-gone Cadillac. As I took my foot off the accelerator to exit the interstate, the transmission immediately downshifted to 3rd gear. Rounding the exit ramp, it dropped to 2nd as my speed slowed. Then down to first at the stop light at the bottom of the ramp. All were harsh and early downshifts, causing the engine RPM to increase as in engine braking. It had a TH2004-R transmission (4 speed auto).

Taking off from the light, the car climbed through the gears as normal, but repeated it's harsh downshifts when I lifted off the accelerator pedal.

Taking off from the 2nd light, it only climbed up as far as 3rd gear. 3rd traffic light: 2nd gear.

By the time I got near home, the car only had 1st gear and reverse, and reverse was slipping badly.

The transmission shop said the valve body was full of clutch material that had jammed up the valves and stopped them from moving. And that only one of the clutch plates had lost it's friction material. This material can just as easily plug orifices in solenoids and divider plates.

Of course being a Caddy, it demanded premium pricing from the repair shop, that probably was more than the car was worth at the time. LOL, why did the Caddy get the light duty TH2004-R, while a Caprice got the heavier TH700R-4?

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Old 10-14-2019, 06:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestonIII View Post
A common failure mode for automatic transmissions, is that one of the many many clutch discs inside will loose a sliver of is lining/face. That sliver proceeds into the valve body, and causes a valve to jam and not move. Sooner or later, mores slivers jam more valves, and the transmission shifts through fewer and fewer gears.

I had this exact thing happen with a long-gone Cadillac. As I took my foot off the accelerator to exit the interstate, the transmission immediately downshifted to 3rd gear. Rounding the exit ramp, it dropped to 2nd as my speed slowed. Then down to first at the stop light at the bottom of the ramp. All were harsh and early downshifts, causing the engine RPM to increase as in engine braking. It had a TH2004-R transmission (4 speed auto).

Taking off from the light, the car climbed through the gears as normal, but repeated it's harsh downshifts when I lifted off the accelerator pedal.

Taking off from the 2nd light, it only climbed up as far as 3rd gear. 3rd traffic light: 2nd gear.

By the time I got near home, the car only had 1st gear and reverse, and reverse was slipping badly.

The transmission shop said the valve body was full of clutch material that had jammed up the valves and stopped them from moving. And that only one of the clutch plates had lost it's friction material. This material can just as easily plug orifices in solenoids and divider plates.

Of course being a Caddy, it demanded premium pricing from the repair shop, that probably was more than the car was worth at the time. LOL, why did the Caddy get the light duty TH2004-R, while a Caprice got the heavier TH700R-4?
Thanks for that info! My dad had a couple of caprices back in the day.

Based on that, however, do you think a new valve body is warranted then? OR would a good reverse slam cure and new fluid + filter rid me of the unwanted clutch material? I should've noted that when I did the transmission fluid and filter change last year it had a red saturn filter on it, which tells me it wasn't cared for since at least 2011.

...
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Old 10-14-2019, 09:28 PM   #10
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Once you have jammed valves in the valve body, it'll need removed and
disassembled. The crud and clutch material will have to be physically removed, possibly with tweezers or needle nose pliers. It wont rinse out.

And there's no point in cleaning the valve body without doing a rebuild. Because just as soon as you put the cleaned valve body back in, you're likely to get another sliver in there again.

Honestly, for less than a $100 dollars worth of specialty tools, and a "clutch and seal and papers" rebuild kit for less than $150, you can rebuild your own automatic gearbox. They're not that hard. Just precisely difficult when you put the original "hard parts" back in (not new parts). You're replacing soft parts.

BUT, they are messy as all hell, and stink to high heavens. And you'll get that old fluid EVERYWHERE (stink stink stink). Keep a clean work space, and dip everything in new tranny fluid as you're putting it back together. And don't forget to drain the torque converter overnight, and try and flush it if you can. IF you can't, then think about replacing it.

I've rebuilt multiple TH700R-4's, a TH250-C, two Turbo 350's, and even a Ford AOD out of a Lincoln. I did all of them with standard tools plus a $60 press, and $5 seal installer. The rebuild kits usually come as 2 to 3 different sets of components, and all the sets together have never cost me $80 total. Sets consist of clutches and "steels", rubber seals, and paper gaskets. Buy all 3.

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Old 10-17-2019, 06:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: 99 SL2 Auto Trans Skips 4-3 Downshift

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrestonIII View Post
Once you have jammed valves in the valve body, it'll need removed and
disassembled. The crud and clutch material will have to be physically removed, possibly with tweezers or needle nose pliers. It wont rinse out.

And there's no point in cleaning the valve body without doing a rebuild. Because just as soon as you put the cleaned valve body back in, you're likely to get another sliver in there again.

Honestly, for less than a $100 dollars worth of specialty tools, and a "clutch and seal and papers" rebuild kit for less than $150, you can rebuild your own automatic gearbox. They're not that hard. Just precisely difficult when you put the original "hard parts" back in (not new parts). You're replacing soft parts.

BUT, they are messy as all hell, and stink to high heavens. And you'll get that old fluid EVERYWHERE (stink stink stink). Keep a clean work space, and dip everything in new tranny fluid as you're putting it back together. And don't forget to drain the torque converter overnight, and try and flush it if you can. IF you can't, then think about replacing it.

I've rebuilt multiple TH700R-4's, a TH250-C, two Turbo 350's, and even a Ford AOD out of a Lincoln. I did all of them with standard tools plus a $60 press, and $5 seal installer. The rebuild kits usually come as 2 to 3 different sets of components, and all the sets together have never cost me $80 total. Sets consist of clutches and "steels", rubber seals, and paper gaskets. Buy all 3.
Thanks for the info!

...
Current:
1999 Saturn SL2 1.9 "Sophia Loren 2"
2008 Honda Accord EX-L 2.4
1993 Chevy Camaro Z28 5.7

Previous:
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2003 Nissan Altima SE 3.5

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