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Old 04-06-2019, 07:49 PM   #1
MAKE AN ACCOUNT
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Default No Transmission Engagement

Hi all. My last engine gave out on me (word to the wise: don't go 12,000 miles between oil changes) and I took on the dubious task of doing a JY engine swap in the parking lot. More than a year later, the engine runs well save for a misfire but that is another day's topic.

I am having trouble with my transaxle. It worked just fine with my last engine albeit it did have a harsh reverse slam. However, after putting the new engine in and getting it running, I move the gear selector throughout its range and nothing happens. The RPMs change by about 50 as I pick various gears but the wheels don't spin, nothing engages (I would know because if it did engage reverse, it would slam, plus I'm well aware how the car moves/feels when it engages gears). With my scan tool I can see that the transaxle does select its appropraite gear, however I can't tell if that's based on the selector itself or the actual engagement in the transmission. I think it's the transmission itself because it displays park when selecting any gear while the car is off, yet I think it's based on the selector because the transmission has no line pressure at all. I didn't get it to full operating temperature because of the misfire but I let the car run about 5 minutes, shifted through gears, and the gauge stayed dead at 0 psi regardless. Pulled all TRS fuses, no change. Checked volts on them, 13+ to each.

The axles are not snapped. It's possible I didn't install them correctly, but they're not broken.

It's possible I connected electrical connectors incorrectly. Three connectors are plugged into the TRS and one big connector to the valve body, which I cleaned with contact cleaner, all pins are good.
I also did not mate the torque converter correctly on my first attempt pairing the transaxle to the engine but it attached fine when I reinstalled it and assembled as expected. Isn't there a sensor that measures torque converter speed? How can I access that?

To summarize:

- new used engine, same functional transmission
- axles are good
- brand new Duralast NSS/TRS
- I can push the car in neutral, not in park
- high RPMs do not move the car, still no reverse with TRS fuses pulled
- no line pressure whatsoever
- ~50 RPM change when selecting various gears, so it probably is trying to do something, though maybe 50 RPM is not a meaningful change
- full, brand new bright red fluid, no leaks anywhere
- no weird noises
- every single fuse is new (someone took the old ones off my hands as the car sat... the battery too... and the hubcap...?)
- I am a newbie... very possible I messed up something simple that I don't know the symptoms of, for example torque converter fitment. I did follow guides for everything.
- flexplate guard is not installed (broken jack). it's purely a debris guard, right?
- I have a fairly capable scan tool if anyone needs addtional info


Only possible causes I can think of:
- bad PCM
- unplugged electrical connector somewhere
- improper fitment of transaxle to engine

I don't know anything about transmissions or line pressure but having completely no pressure, to me, signals a basic fault somewhere: something is not receving electricity or input, as opposed to an intermittent problem like a pump on the fritz or low voltage.

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Old 04-06-2019, 08:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Depending on how the TC install went bad the first time its highly likely you screwed up the pump inside the transmission and now require another one.

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Old 04-07-2019, 12:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

OP, do I understand correctly, you have installed a mechanical pressure gauge in the port where the trans temp sensor goes (1/8" NPT) and there is little-to-no line-pressure? If so, don't think any more about electrical problems; there is nothing electrical that will cause line-pressure to go to near zero.

Likewise, I don't think there is any way the valve-body can kill line-pressure. Those VBs are know to be troublesome, but killing LP isn't one of their quirks.

As pointed out above, there is a good chance the pump or its drive from the TC were damaged when the trans didn't mate up properly with the engine

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Old 04-07-2019, 01:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

I see, so best case scenario is going to require pulling the trans. The pump is separate from the TC in this car correct (97 sl2)?

I didn't turn on the engine when it was incorrectly mated, in fact I don't think I could even get the bolts tightened, do you guys still think the pump would get damaged solely from the TC being mounted wrong? Or is that something that requires pressurized fluid / mechanical operation

Is it possible to pull the trans without the engine? Even if I could sawzall it just from the JY car that would give me some hope.

And that's correct, installed a verified functioning gauge into the temp sensor port. Didn't take it to full operating temp but I figured it would register something at lower temps.

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Old 04-07-2019, 09:46 AM   #5
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Quote:
.......I also did not mate the torque converter correctly on my first attempt pairing the transaxle to the engine but it attached fine when I reinstalled it and assembled as expected......
Missing pump-to-case O-ring seal located between the converter housing and main case near transaxle dipstick tube? A service bulletin was issued for this; 1991-2002 ZB Saturn No Fluid Pressure , No Drive , No Reverse - kw transmission MP7 MP6 inoperative forward automatic A/T gear #PIP3082 - (Jul 28, 2004)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Service Information.pdf (55.4 KB, 7 views)

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Old 04-07-2019, 01:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Did you disassemble the trans at all, or just swap it from one engine to the other? If you did not disassemble the trans case, I see no way the O-ring could suddenly disappear, or even go bad.

Yes, the TC drives the pump. I think there are notches on the TC hub that engage tangs on the pump, but it may be the other way around. I would remove the trans and do some inspection before going after a replacement trans. You may find something about that pump or its drive that is "fixable".

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Old 04-07-2019, 01:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

If you installed the transmission with the torque converter not properly engaged into the oil pump drive lugs you may have damaged or broken the oil pump drive.

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Old 04-07-2019, 06:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Thanks guys. Fair enough. I did only transfer the ATX, I know better than to go taking that apart, seeing how I don't even need to open things to break them

Guess now would be a good time for me to learn the subframe drop method.

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Old 04-08-2019, 08:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAKE AN ACCOUNT View Post
I think it's the transmission itself because it displays park when selecting any gear while the car is off, yet I think it's based on the selector because the transmission has no line pressure at all. I didn't get it to full operating temperature because of the misfire but I let the car run about 5 minutes, shifted through gears, and the gauge stayed dead at 0 psi regardless.
www.car-part.com

You need a transmission. Transmission oil pump is toast.

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"He checks the gas, and fills the oil....."

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Old 04-09-2019, 12:49 AM   #10
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Watching some videos, too funny... verbatim "what some guys will do is think the torque converter is fully seated and they will run the transmission on with an impact, next thing that happens is the engine locks up or the pump goes out"

Sheesh... did not even realize TCs had lugs to line up before today. Well I'm not very sour about this anymore after learning trans will come out through the wheel well. Easy peasy.

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Old 04-09-2019, 12:52 AM   #11
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Thanks for the site, interesting. After seeing those prices, turns out it really does pay to watch youtube videos. I will probably get one from the wrecker for $93. My TC is probably fine right? Wouldn't get damaged by misalignment?

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Old 04-09-2019, 01:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Wow, so I always wondered why my 4 speed seemed to have 5 gears. I would be in forth and after a few seconds of driving, the RPMs would suddenly fall 200-300, like it was upshifting into a nonexistent gear. So turns out that was the TC clutch engaging. Fascinating. Also turns out I probably ruined the keys on that. Good thing they are $23 at Pick n Pull.

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Old 05-24-2019, 01:53 AM   #13
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

So.

First time I went to the junkyard (60 miles away) I forgot my credit card.
Second time, I spent 90 minutes pulling a transmission, and right before I go to slide it out, I look up and there's a gigantic hole in it. Well that explains the whole being in a junkyard thing.
Third time was the charm, in and out in 65 minutes.

I installed the new one today. Wait, why is my car going forward in park, reverse and neutral? Here's a tip, don't install your neutral safety switch linkage upside down!

I haven't driven this car in at least 18 months but I just did so thank you all. It still has some issues of course (like its predecessor, the new trans has the iconic reverse slam) but it moves.

Interestingly, on my old transmission when I spin the converter by hand it makes a few clunks per revolution. New one spins with no noise. Clunk bad!

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Old 05-24-2019, 01:06 PM   #14
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Don't let that "reverse slam go on for long, it will loosen the magic ISN and you will have a whole new project. I would try swapping out the valve body from the old trans. However, drain the fluid from the old trans first into a clear jar. If there is shiny metal debris in the old fluid, the old VB is probably contaminated and may not be worth trying.

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Old 05-31-2019, 08:23 PM   #15
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Good to know, but... I went to start the car yesterday to see if I got the power steering leak fixed, and it wouldn't really crank, maybe half a revolution every time I moved the key to start. Dead battery I figured, not sure how, but that's walmart for you. Fully charged, today I got the same result but after a few attempts I see the ecm go up in smoke before my eyes (dash taken apart)... what the hell

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Old 05-31-2019, 08:32 PM   #16
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Short circuit I'm sure, but geez, where, and another 60mi trip to the junkyard. Two days after I bought a truck and the transmission somehow slipped and stuck into 2nd on the freeway on the first drive home. Locked wheels at 70mph isn't as fun as formula d makes it seem

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Old 08-17-2019, 10:09 PM   #17
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Update.
The computer somehow fixed itself (despite releasing its magic pixies). It had a chunky idle and only drove in first, and reverse after waiting about 5 seconds.

I put a new-used valve body in and now the car idles at 500ish rpm (the bottom of the tachometer is weird). It goes CHUG CHUG CHUG like a train, it's clear the engine is using up the very last of its momentum right before each combustion event. I can't think of a reason why but I decided not to drive the car in case it might cause more damage. Does anyone have any recommendations at this point? Is there some kind of relearn?

The engine is not smooth but it stops chugging if I bring up the rpms, but there's virtually no option between 500 and 1500, it's either idle or shoot right up when I ease on the gas. Should I deal with it and go for a drive? I feel like it's beyond a relearn.

I think my IAC is fine. Someone stole my head unit (another day another part) but I feel this car is too old for that to matter.

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Old 08-18-2019, 01:11 AM   #18
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Quote:
Originally Posted by MAKE AN ACCOUNT View Post
Update.
The computer somehow fixed itself (despite releasing its magic pixies). It had a chunky idle and only drove in first, and reverse after waiting about 5 seconds....I put a new-used valve body in and now the car idles at 500ish rpm (the bottom of the tachometer is weird).

The engine is not smooth but it stops chugging if I bring up the rpms, but there's virtually no option between 500 and 1500, it's either idle or shoot right up when I ease on the gas. Should I deal with it and go for a drive? I feel like it's beyond a relearn.

I think my IAC is fine....
Think again. Cold engine idle should be around 1200 rpm, gradually dropping as coolant reach operating temps. Warm idle should be between 650-800 rpm. Your idle at 500 suggests the idle air control valve is faulty, wire damage between iacv and pcm or the pcm is faulty. Factory throttle stop setting with the bypass air port blocked (the little hole in front of the throttle plate) was adjusted for 500-600 rpm. With the bypass port unblocked for air to bypass the throttle plate, the EGI system adjusts for all idle situations (cold engine, ac compressor load, electrical loads, power steering pump, alternator and xmission). Engine speed is always monitored so the pcm can make rpm adjustments on the fly as loads change.

To test the iacv and factory throttle plate setting, remove the air intake tubing for access to throttle body. With a warm engine idling, use a finger to block off the bypass air port hole in front of throttle plate. Idle should drop down between 500-600 rpm. As soon as you remove your finder, the rush of air should make the engine jump in rpm then settle back to electronically adjusted 650-850 rpm. The sudden rpm jump is the pcm retracting the iacv as it detected lower rpm than expected (finger blocking the bypass air port) and as more air is ingested, rpm jumps up immediately when unblocking the port. The sudden jump in rpm is detected and the pcm extends the iacv until normal idle rpm is achieved. The pcm makes all idle speed adjustments with the iacv, and spark timing to fine tune idle in all temperatures and loads.

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Old 11-05-2019, 05:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

I havenít gotten around to this because the motor wonít start.

It wonít crank at all, it won't even attempt to. I think it is an electrical issue.
- when I turn the key to start, I hear a relay activate in the passenger compartment, I hear a click in the dash, and dash lights come on
- after releasing the key to run, a rapid click sounds from somewhere around the radio, and a deeper clunk-click noise can be heard once after that somewhere in the engine bay
- holding the key in start for 5 seconds does not do/bypass anything

Battery is March 2018 and reads 12.85V.

Tried starting in each gear position (automatic) since I replaced the TRS. Starter is fairly new if I remember correctly. Tried whacking it to no avail. Any suggestions? Tests I should perform? Is there a way I can bypass the ignition cylinder / hot wire? I want to push-button this car eventually anyways.

Iíve had this problem before and it turned out to be shoddy wiring from a previous ownerís aftermarket remote start. I removed it and soldered and heat shrink-ed the wires and it fired right up (months ago) but I do not think thatís the same issue, I think thatís permanently fixed. That was causing intermittent no crank issues, what I have now seems to be permanent. I checked all the wires I soldered for continuity anyways.

Is there a way I can check the integrity of the PCM? I have a feeling that it could be the computer. Are those things interchangeable?

Last edited by MAKE AN ACCOUNT; 11-05-2019 at 05:21 PM..

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Old 11-05-2019, 06:27 PM   #20
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Default Re: No Transmission Engagement

Faith on pcm reliability to work as designed with almost no way to test one other than observing what it does to run the EFI system. Unless you know exactly how engine computers work, its simply easier to test the three things the pcm does that can be seen; 1)fuel pump operation, 2)spark and 3)injectors. If the fuel pump primes at ignition on time (the pcm is working), the engine cranks - injectors pulse to feed fuel into cylinders (the pcm is working) and spark is generated (the pcm is working), spark ignites the air/fuel mixtures. If the engine starter runs to crank the engine, removing the spark plugs should reveal them as wet, smelling strongly of fuel - injectors operating as pressurized fuel feeds injectors. With plugs removed, reconnected to plugs wires and plug bases grounded to the engine block, the starter cranking the engine should result in spark on every plug. Fuel, injectors and spark are operated by the pcm but only when the engine is cranking or running.

With a no start issue of the starter not operating, a simple way to isolate a starting circuit from starter problem would be bypassing the starting circuit. You'll have to crawl under the engine and either short two terminals on the starter with a screwdriver or connect a pair of 4', 5', or 6' wires to the same two starter terminals. The other ends can be stripped bare and momentarily touched together as the starting switch. The two terminals on the starter? The large one with red battery and fusible link wire (usually the outer terminal) and the smaller terminal with a single small gauge (purple) wire. Remote starter switches with wires and alligator clips are sold in auto stores for this purpose but not necessary as long as precautions are made - not shorting the two terminals or wires until ready. Shorting the two terminals on the starter simply bypasses the starting circuit and allows battery power to operate the starter solenoid to begin starter operation. A screwdriver shorting the two terminals should result in the starter powering up and cranking the engine. This is the same as turning the ignition switch to the START position but without all the wiring.

One caution - Do Not Turn Ignition ON. Leave the ignition switch OFF. All you are doing is testing battery, battery cables, their connections, starter solenoid and starter motor. Either the starter runs and cranks the engine or not.

Last edited by fdryer; 11-05-2019 at 06:35 PM..

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