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Old 11-11-2013, 12:56 PM   #1
ThorntonCH
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

First post after reading some of the forums on this issue. 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic 95,000 miles. The Vue has difficulty moving forward in Drive, along with elevated RPM's. At a complete stop, if the transmission is shifted into Low, the Vue accelerates normal through first gear. Moving the shifter then to I or D gives a "hard shift", followed by normal transmission behavior through the remaining gears even up through highway speed. I disconnected the battery, then reconnected 20 minutes later. Went for a test drive, and the transmission acted normal through all gears. At the first stop sign, however, the issues with 1st gear returned while in D. Again, shifting to L allowed, 1st gear was OK. Before and after the battery disconnect, the codes showing up were P0700 (Trans Control Sys Malfunction), P0962 (Pressure Control Solenoid A Control Cirucit Low) & P0966 (Pressure Control Solenoid B Control Cirucit Low).

Purchased the Vue for little more than scrap value. No Saturn dealerships close, but the local GM/Toyota dealership quoted the previous owner $2K+ in repairs to replace the valve body, seals & labor with the disclaimer that the repairs might not solve the issue. Thoughts anyone?

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Old 11-11-2013, 01:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

I've attached a few extracts explaining trouble codes - as well as thumbnail diagram for circuit between TCM and auto-trans.

I'm not familiar with this A/T but believe I've read where TCM, or wiring to the A/T (or internal) "may" cause a few of these shorted or open signal problems.

P0700 is probably not a factor as it sets out of sympathy for most other transmission related trouble codes.

Satlite440 - is an active technician / mechanic and usually has good ideas for members. He usually comes online in the evenings.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg TCM-AT-Wiring.jpg (105.0 KB, 80 views)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 3.0 DTCP0700.pdf (20.3 KB, 147 views)
File Type: pdf 3.0 DTCP0962.pdf (104.0 KB, 84 views)
File Type: pdf 3.0 DTCP0966.pdf (102.5 KB, 68 views)

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Old 11-21-2013, 01:58 PM   #3
ThorntonCH
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Grumpy,
Thanks for the PDF's; good information. I've read some additional information, and think that at least "part" of the issue is electronic. I disconnected the battery and TCM, with no results. I then removed the driver's side kick plate, disconnected the harness and noticed a small amount of corrosion once it was apart. I cleaned the both the male and female side of the connections with an inexpensive contact cleaner. After reconnecting, the transmission behaved in a more normal fashion, but it's not 100%. Starting off in D, 1st & 2nd gear were ok, there's typically an exaggerated slip before 3rd engages, and sometimes 4th. After coming to a stop, sometimes it acts normal, sometimes it reverts back to the protection mode. If it reverts to protection mode, killing and restarting the engine allows me to start off in D again.

I'm convinced that cleaning the connection at the driver's side kick plate has made the transmission behave more normal. I think I need a more aggressive contact cleaner as a next step. Thoughts anyone?

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Old 10-22-2014, 07:44 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

I am having the same issues with my 2003 3.0L AWD automatic Saturn VUE as well. I used the scan tool and it is giving me P0700, P1719, and some others like P0171, P0174, P0971, and P0507. The transmission is 'slipping' and jerking while shifting. Some days it drives fine; other days it jerks when it shifts, and usually after the engine warms up a bit, the transmission goes into Trans. Protection Mode and the drive gear "D" is stuck in 5th gear (I assume). Low gear "L" works at low speeds however. My saturn has 190,000 miles and has never had the transmission fluid changed or flushed.

Could a transmission fluid change help this issue? Is it even worth trying or is this issue a definite transmission issue requiring way more than a simple fluid change? If changing the fluid might help, is this something I can do myself (if so, what fluid do I buy and how do I do it)? If I should take it somewhere to get it changed or flushed, where should I go (since there are no more Saturn dealerships)?

What additional steps are available to me to fix this issue (besides get a new car)?

Thanks in advance.

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Old 10-22-2014, 09:06 PM   #5
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2003 VUE 3.0L
2007 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

I would try a 'drain and fill' (Do Not Flush) You need some Toyota T-IV ATF . . .
http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=158509.

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Old 10-26-2014, 11:03 AM   #6
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

So I did the drain and fill and it didn't seem to help much. I do need to add, however, that the problem only happens when the engine gets hot. Meaning, the first 1 mile or so I drive in the morning on my way to work the transmission works normally; shifts normally while accelerating and coming to a stop. But then after some time it will go into protection mode and I'll have to drive the rest of the way in limp mode.

Any ideas on why it only happens after the engine warms up? Any more ideas I can try to fix this issue?

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Old 10-27-2014, 04:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Could the ECM or PCM cause the transmission to slip and go in to Protection Mode? I just trying to figure out if there's any other causes for my issue besides the actual transmission needing replaced.

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Old 10-28-2014, 06:43 PM   #8
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Dizzy Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Having the same problem on my 2002 saturn vue v6 awd. Just bought this at a auction. I have codes p0700 that won't clear,and p0963 intermittent. Suck in limp mode, and making very had shifts when I manually shift. Any help would be appreciated. I'm leaning towards the tcm, but don't want to throw money away.

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Old 10-29-2014, 09:45 AM   #9
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by spyderr911 View Post
Could the ECM or PCM cause the transmission to slip and go in to Protection Mode? I just trying to figure out if there's any other causes for my issue besides the actual transmission needing replaced.
There is no 'protect' mode for the xmission, tcm or ecm. If you see the reduced power mode indicator, the engine computer (ecm) is alerting you to a serious problem with the drive by wire system - the APP (pedal), TAC (throttle body) and wiring. Reduced power mode is not a xmission limp home mode. If, for any reason, a disruption in electrical connections or electronic communications should ever occur between either the APP or TAC and ecm the ecm defaults to a program termed 'reduced power mode' as the ecm determined it has no valid feedback signals from either the pedal or throttle position sensors (four sensors). The ecm will not allow full engine power but just enough to drive/limp off a highway to a safe place to make the emergency call instead of dying on the road. Reduced power or 'limp home' mode is the programmed default for drive by wire systems and a well designed safety net against any thoughts or possibilities of a runaway engine. Think California Toyota Lexus deaths resulting in the car supposedly having a runaway engine with its drive by wire system when it was determined to be a dealer installed aftermarket floor mat bunching up and causing the pedal to stick wide open. The deaths supposedly by an uncontrolled drive by wire system and investigation was followed world wide by every car manufacturer using drive by wire systems (including me with my L300). To date, no drive by wire system has ever caused a runaway engine. If you experienced and can verify reduced power mode you may have more than one problem, considering the high mileage (190K?) with several error codes. Reduced power mode, as mentioned, has its own list of possible causes while P0700 indicates the tcm sent an error code to the ecm to turn on the check engine light. The tcm is merely communicating an error with the other xmission error code(s) pointing to a specific area or part. And to complicate things, the remaining error codes are related to engine problems. At the least, three areas need to be addressed. Personally, the high mileage may be one indication of long term wear and tear of EFI system and xmission parts that may need a closer look into what's worn and contributing to the overall symptom of poor xmission shifts/reduced power mode. I believe the engine problems (reduced power mode) should be addressed first as the xmission is the slave to how the engine performs - a poorly running engine won't allow automatic xmissions to operate correctly. Worn xmission parts are usually solenoids and leaking seals.

P0171, P0174 and P0507 are engine related issues that may be simply worn out parts like the O2 sensors. P0507 may be a dirty throttle preventing proper commands from moving the throttle plate and the feedback sensors aren't matching expected responses from the ecm. Any hoses deteriorated, allowing vacuum leaks? Dirty maf sensor or vacuum leak between the maf sensor and throttle?

P0971 is a xmission error code pointing to the line pressure control solenoid.

Last edited by fdryer; 10-29-2014 at 09:55 AM..

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Old 10-29-2014, 09:52 AM   #10
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by heitmeyer10 View Post
Having the same problem on my 2002 saturn vue v6 awd. Just bought this at a auction. I have codes p0700 that won't clear,and p0963 intermittent. Suck in limp mode, and making very had shifts when I manually shift. Any help would be appreciated. I'm leaning towards the tcm, but don't want to throw money away.
P0963 is about the xmission line pressure control solenoid failure. The default of automatics with solenoid failures are harsh shifts to protect the clutches against premature wear if allowed to slip. From the service manual; The line pressure control (PC) solenoid valve (SLT) regulates solenoid modulator fluid passing through the solenoid into throttle signal pressure. The TCM uses a pulse width modulated signal in order to control the signal pressure. The TCM compares various inputs in order to determine the appropriate pressure for a given load. The TCM varies the current to the line PC solenoid valve from 0.1 amps, for maximum line pressure to 1.1 amps, for minimum line pressure. An internal current monitor within the TCM provides feedback in order to determine actual line PC solenoid valve current draw.

If the TCM detects a continuous short to voltage in the line PC solenoid valve circuit, then DTC P0963 sets. DTC P0963 is a type A DTC.

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Old 10-30-2014, 05:25 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I believe the engine problems (reduced power mode) should be addressed first as the xmission is the slave to how the engine performs - a poorly running engine won't allow automatic xmissions to operate correctly. Worn xmission parts are usually solenoids and leaking seals.

P0171, P0174 and P0507 are engine related issues that may be simply worn out parts like the O2 sensors. P0507 may be a dirty throttle preventing proper commands from moving the throttle plate and the feedback sensors aren't matching expected responses from the ecm. Any hoses deteriorated, allowing vacuum leaks? Dirty maf sensor or vacuum leak between the maf sensor and throttle?

P0971 is a xmission error code pointing to the line pressure control solenoid.
Thanks for the reply fdryer. I see you say I should tackle the engine related issues before moving on to the transmission. The engine related issues have been there for a long time. I was going to replace the 02 sensors but they were too expensive at the time. And from the research I have done, most of my engine issues affect gas mileage mainly. I don't want to dump a bunch of money and time fixing these engine issues if at the end of the day I still have to dump another $3k on a transmission. Do you think fixing the 02 sensors and cleaning the MAF (which I have done in the past), and the other things will resolve my tranny issues?

I don't understand why if my engine is cold the transmission is perfectly fine, but after awhile goes into protection mode.

For what its worth, I only have two lights on; service engine soon and check engine. I don't have the protection or limp mode light others have mentioned.

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Old 10-31-2014, 02:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

I'm puzzled why you presume there's a protect mode for the transmission. Below are two drawings from an '04 owner's manual. Is there an indicator on your instrument panel coinciding with these drawings or not? Reduced power applies to the engine only. You have several error codes that imply more than one problem. Its your choice to address these error codes any way you see comfortable. In my mind, engine issues are addressed first then xmission. There are no guarantees that fixing the engine issues will fix xmission problems so you have to prepare for the worst while expecting the best outcome. If you address the pressure control solenoid first and skip the engine error codes, there are no guarantees this will correct the xmission or engine problems. Logically, the engine failing to perform correctly may affect xmission operation drastically. A faulty xmission with error codes cannot affect the way an engine runs. In your situation you have engine and xmission problems. While second guessing xmission faults may cause engine problems, that's anyone's guess and far from general troubleshooting procedures.

The following is reprinted from the '03 service manual;

Reduced Engine Power Mode

When the ECM detects a condition with the TAC (throttle) system, the ECM may enter a reduced engine power mode. Reduced engine power may cause one or more of the following conditions:
  • Acceleration limiting--The ECM will continue to use the accelerator pedal for throttle control; however, the vehicle acceleration is limited.
  • Limited throttle mode--The ECM will continue to use the accelerator pedal for throttle control; however, the maximum throttle opening is limited.
  • Throttle default mode--The ECM will turn off the throttle actuator motor and the throttle will return to the spring loaded default position.
  • Forced idle mode--The ECM will perform the following actions:
  • *Limit engine speed to idle by positioning the throttle position, or by controlling the fuel and spark if the throttle is turned off.
  • *Ignore the accelerator pedal input.
  • Engine shutdown mode--The ECM will disable fuel and de-energize the throttle actuator.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg rp1.jpg (196.5 KB, 28 views)
File Type: jpg rp.jpg (7.2 KB, 13 views)

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Old 11-01-2014, 12:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I'm puzzled why you presume there's a protect mode for the transmission. Below are two drawings from an '04 owner's manual. Is there an indicator on your instrument panel coinciding with these drawings or not? Reduced power applies to the engine only. You have several error codes that imply more than one problem. Its your choice to address these error codes any way you see comfortable. In my mind, engine issues are addressed first then xmission. There are no guarantees that fixing the engine issues will fix xmission problems so you have to prepare for the worst while expecting the best outcome. If you address the pressure control solenoid first and skip the engine error codes, there are no guarantees this will correct the xmission or engine problems. Logically, the engine failing to perform correctly may affect xmission operation drastically. A faulty xmission with error codes cannot affect the way an engine runs. In your situation you have engine and xmission problems. While second guessing xmission faults may cause engine problems, that's anyone's guess and far from general troubleshooting procedures.

The following is reprinted from the '03 service manual;

Reduced Engine Power Mode

When the ECM detects a condition with the TAC (throttle) system, the ECM may enter a reduced engine power mode. Reduced engine power may cause one or more of the following conditions:
  • Acceleration limiting--The ECM will continue to use the accelerator pedal for throttle control; however, the vehicle acceleration is limited.
  • Limited throttle mode--The ECM will continue to use the accelerator pedal for throttle control; however, the maximum throttle opening is limited.
  • Throttle default mode--The ECM will turn off the throttle actuator motor and the throttle will return to the spring loaded default position.
  • Forced idle mode--The ECM will perform the following actions:
  • *Limit engine speed to idle by positioning the throttle position, or by controlling the fuel and spark if the throttle is turned off.
  • *Ignore the accelerator pedal input.
  • Engine shutdown mode--The ECM will disable fuel and de-energize the throttle actuator.
The AF23/AF33 transmissions in all GM/Saturn applications have a Protection Mode. While Protection Mode (a.k.a. "Emergency Mode") is enabled, the transaxle stays in 5th gear when the gear selector is in D (Drive). This is mentioned in the GM documentation for the AF33 (link here). Sonnax has also documented this in one of their tech articles for these transmissions (link here).

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Last edited by ruley73; 11-01-2014 at 12:42 AM..

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Old 11-01-2014, 12:48 AM   #14
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Protection Mode is also explained in the PDFs that far2grumpy previously posted for DTCs P0962 and P0966.

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Old 11-01-2014, 01:07 AM   #15
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

^ Thank you ruley73 for pointing out where this 'protect mode' is coming from. Protect mode is not reduced power mode and I never looked in the xmission table of contents. I wasn't aware of Vues having this feature. Without any error code to go by, 'Emergency Mode/Drive Range - Emergency Fifth Gear is described in the service manual under xmissioin general description; If for any reason the entire electronic control system of the transmission become disabled, all five of the shift solenoid valves will be de-energized (OFF). This EMERGENCY MODE operating state of the solenoids forces the transmission to operate in Fifth gear regardless of other vehicle operating conditions when the gear selector lever is in a forward range. Also, in EMERGENCY MODE, the lock up pressure control solenoid valve is turned OFF in order to prevent TCC apply. This allows the vehicle to be operated safely, despite the disabled controls, until the condition can be corrected. If EMERGENCY MODE is enabled while the transmission is operating in DRIVE Range, the transmission will assume a Fifth gear hydraulic power flow state with the following exceptions. ............. No mention of reduced power mode being activated and no error code is associated with this problem. I'm looking at the engine side and tend to stay away from xmissions unless given better info as you did.

As it is, P0971 is the only xmission error code pointing to the line pressure control solenoid. As mentioned previously, there may be two or more issues to address as there are engine codes as well as this xmission code. I don't think the tcm has failed since cycling the engine off and on allows a temporary reset of problems disappearing until they come back. Simply having the engine/xmission run normally for a short period of time tells me this isn't a major tcm or ecm failure, yet. Troubleshooting here is at a very advanced level, beyond my understanding except for acknowledging procedures and steps that are the relatively easy to follow without GM's Tech II scantool otherwise its a dealer call for servicing a complicated problem. My understanding of troubleshooting as well as anyone's would be a matter of parts substitution if a problem can be narrowed down. Unfortunately, there are several error codes to deal with and I would start with engine troubleshooting and see if engine error codes reset before moving on to xmission errors.

And to follow up on P0962, this is pointing to the line pressure control solenoid. P0966 points to the TCC Pressure Control Solenoid.

Last edited by fdryer; 11-01-2014 at 01:18 AM..

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Old 11-01-2014, 07:04 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by ruley73 View Post
The AF23/AF33 transmissions in all GM/Saturn applications have a Protection Mode. While Protection Mode (a.k.a. "Emergency Mode") is enabled, the transaxle stays in 5th gear when the gear selector is in D (Drive).
Yes this is what is happening ruley73. I am going to drain the transmission fluid again (since it was pretty brownish when I drained it the first time; didn't smell burnt though). I am also going to clear the codes on the Vue after I do this and drive it a couple days to see what codes it throws again. I know it will throw the 02 sensor code again, but it sometimes throws different codes after resetting it I noticed.

Hopefully we can figure this out.

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Old 11-01-2014, 07:29 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by spyderr911 View Post
Yes this is what is happening ruley73. I am going to drain the transmission fluid again (since it was pretty brownish when I drained it the first time; didn't smell burnt though). I am also going to clear the codes on the Vue after I do this and drive it a couple days to see what codes it throws again. I know it will throw the 02 sensor code again, but it sometimes throws different codes after resetting it I noticed.

Hopefully we can figure this out.
Exactly what fluid (brand & product description/designation) are you putting back in? Again, Toyota T-IV is what you should be using; NOT Dexron III or Dexron VI.

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Old 11-02-2014, 11:11 AM   #18
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

I read in another thread that people suggested the Valvoline High Mileage Maxlife ATF. It says its good for Toyota T-IV, along with a lot of others.

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Old 11-02-2014, 11:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by spyderr911 View Post
I read in another thread that people suggested the Valvoline High Mileage Maxlife ATF. It says its good for Toyota T-IV, along with a lot of others.
I don't like aftermarket fluids for this reason. They are usually a jack of trades/master of none composition. They may work in multiple applications, but they are less than optimal for any one of them.

Valvoline claims that the MaxLife fluid will work for both Toyota T-IV and Dexron-III applications, but the service manual says that damage will occur if Dexron-III is used in the Aisin transmission. Because of this, I would not use that MaxLife fluid.

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2007 Chevy Equinox LT 170K miles

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Old 11-05-2014, 03:21 PM   #20
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Default Re: 2003 Saturn Vue 3.0L AWD Automatic Transmission Issues

Ok so I did a transmission fluid change and reset the codes. I drove it roughly 5 miles and the engine/transmission is doing exactly the same thing it was before. So I guess the transmission fluid change did nothing to help out my problem.

I rescanned for codes and here is what I got:

P0971 Pressure Control Solenoid C Control Circuit High
P0700 Transmission Control System (MIL Request)
P0171 System Too Lean (Bank 1)
P0174 System Too Lean (Bank 2)

I did notice some small cracks on the PCV Hose on the left side where it enters the engine. Could this be a culprit for any of the above codes? Also is this hose easy to replace? I tried following the hose to see where it goes but it goes under the front of the engine and around the right side down the back into darkness. Does anyone have instructions on how to replace?

Also I tried cleaning the MAF sensor but it didn't seem to do anything. I assume if the MAF is bad then cleaning it will do nothing. Could this be the culprit for any of the above codes too?

And finally, would any of the codes make the transmission go into Protection Mode? Is there still hope that my transmission is still good, and its merely some sensors and hoses?

Thanks.

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