Any Auto Mechanics on this Forum?

Any Auto Mechanics on this Forum?

This is a discussion on Any Auto Mechanics on this Forum? within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; I've posted this question over at Toyota Nation and at Lexus Owner's Club two days ago with zero replies... Thought I'd try here. C&P from ...

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Thread: Any Auto Mechanics on this Forum?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Question Any Auto Mechanics on this Forum?

    I've posted this question over at Toyota Nation and at Lexus Owner's Club two days ago with zero replies... Thought I'd try here.

    C&P from my Toyota Nation post:

    Background:
    I have a '99 Lexus ES300 with a 1MZFE VVT-I engine, the same as the '99 Camry V6. I have approximately 73,000 miles on the car.

    I have not done very many modifications. A custom air intake, Brembo Big Brake kit, one-inch-drop lowering springs, 17" rims & Falken tires, and took off the Lexus badges.

    I'm an avid do-it-your-self'er and weekend mechanic. I've taken good care of this car since I've owned it (since about 40k miles), having done oil changes every 3500 miles and following the other maintenance procedures as laid out in the shop & Chilton's manuals at recommended intervals. I'm 3k behind on changing the spark plugs though.

    I drained and filled the transmission a little under 1,000 miles ago using Valvoline MaxLife (DEXIII/TypeT).
    There were no metal shavings in the drain plug or fluid that I could see. The fluid was a little dirty, but was a healthy color and did not smell funny.

    The Problem:
    I've been getting the check engine light occasionally. It happened twice before I drained/filled the trans fluid, but is more frequent now.
    My OBD2 reader says it's code P0770, which traces to the Torque Converter Lockup Solenoid if my research is correct.

    The car is shifting smoothly through all gears, including overdrive. I have not seen or experienced any lockup problems.

    I clear the code, and it comes back - Usually a few days later, once or twice it's come back within a few hours. It's happened maybe 8 or 9 times total. Coincidently it has not thrown any codes since I posted this thread, but it's a safe bet that it will sooner or later.

    My Questions:
    Before I freak out and take it to a transmission shop, is there anything I can do myself?

    Should I drain/fill the transmission several times in an attempt to flush it?

    I've read on some forums that this vehicle does not have a filter in the transmission pan. I have not dropped the pan before. If there is a filter in there, I'll be glad to replace it.

    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME!

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead


    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown


  2. #2
    Member Array alfack's Avatar
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    Hey Pete,

    It sounds like you have done plenty of research and have done everything I would have. You even have the code reader :) Sometimes torque converters can have problems if the fluid level is not all the way full.

    Good luck getting it resolved. I hate check engine lights!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    @Aflack,
    Thanks - I checked and tripple-checked the fluid level. In fact, after I drained and filled the tranny, I got a little too much fluid in it and had to vacuum out a few ounces through the dipstick tube (very hard to let "only a little" out via the drain plug!). The fluid level looks perfect.



    I'm really hoping it's just some sediment or crud that occasionally blocks the solenoid plunger, and flushing / draining&filling the tranny a few more times would clear things up... Otherwise I'm looking at $300 for the new torque converter lockup solenoid, and a full day of labor to install, or pay the shop $500 to do it.

    However, I've read (on a few car forums) a lot of accounts of people with 96-01 Lexus's and Toyota's having to rebuild the tranny around 75k. That would be a major bummer.

    Any input, anyone?

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead


    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown

  4. #4
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Pete. I'm only a mechanic when I need to be and on my own vehicles, but here are a few things to check.
    Did you overfill the transmission? Is the level in normal range?
    Did you unplug any wiring connectors or bump them, or move them out of the way to do your maintenance?
    Did you use the recommended fluid or additives?
    Is it the overdrive that's the transmission is not shifting into? Have you reset the car's PCM? Or disconnected the battery to do the maintenance? How about a performance program--are you running one?
    I think you're on the nose with the code it's giving you. Here's another reference: OBD-II DTC Database - Generic Powertrain Codes (P0xxx, P2xxx, P34xx - P39xx)
    Not sure if your solenoid is internal or not. Maybe it's just the valve sticking? It's a bummer to do something preventive maintenance and then have problems when there were none before. Been there with an LSD rear differential. I do know on some vehicles that codes come up for some reason, and if they are cured, it may take a couple hundred miles of driving before they go away. I take it you've been resetting the code with your OBD II scanner?
    There is one product I have relied on in the past to keep the automatic transmission in good order between services, or as a flush helper just before a service. Trans-Tune by Sea Foam. Just read the directions on the bottle. Other than that---got any friends at the dealership? Good luck with nailing down the issues though.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    @Ram Rod:

    THANKS FOR YOUR REPLY! Wow, this forum rocks.

    Overfill: I did by a few ounces, drove on it for 20-30 miles before I checked and noticed; vacuumed a few ounces out via the dipstick tube. It wasn't very high, maybe a half inch over "full" on the dipstick. It's fine now and the level has stayed constant since then.

    I can't find any loose or unplugged connections, and I know this engine bay pretty well so I think if there were any, I'd have found them by now.
    I haven't checked throughly for loose fuses, or an ECU problem. I should do that. Thanks for the idea.

    Yep, the manual calls for DEXTRON III, I used Valvoline's brand MaxLife ATF DEXIII.

    All gears are shifting smoothly, incluidng overdrive. 2200 RPM @ 65mph, sure sounds like OD to me.
    When the check engine light comes on, it puts the ECU into "limp" mode, which disables overdrive, but that's unrelated as far as I'm concerned.

    Yes I've reset the PCM. I left the battery disconnected overnight once just to test that.
    No performance programming at the moment; stock ECU. Been looking into that though.

    Solenoid is internal; Have to drop the transmission pan and then remove the transmission valve body to access the solenoid. I have a shop manual which gives step-by-step instructions but I've never disassembled a transmission before. I'm on the fence between doing it myself and paying someone $500 to do it.

    I'm a fan of Sea Foam but have never tried their trans-tune. I may try that stuff and then drain/fill (several times, driving a bit between each) as a troubleshooting procedure before I do anything expensive. Maybe that'll do it. You think? heh....

    Unfortunately, getting my car up high enough on jack stands to comfortably work under it and drop the transmission pan, is quite a procedure. I have 4 jack stands and a good floor jack, but it still takes awhile each time. And disposing of the fluid isn't fun either. I'll stop complaining now.

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead


    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown

  6. #6
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    I'm on the fence between doing it myself and paying someone $500 to do it.
    The exact reasons I do everything I can myself. None of it is actually fun. I replaced the power steering pump on our '01 KIA this morning, and now I can hear the air-conditioner compressor bearing chattering. I have a fifty-five gallon drum for used fluids. If it ever gets full, I'll haul it to a Haz Mat place for disposal. $500 would get me two tires for the truck, or that PT1911 I've been wanting! Don't see any sense in getting less than a full set of tires, so............

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array Shizzlemah's Avatar
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    Pete,
    I'm an auto guy, rebuilt my share of auto transmissions, and generally have no fear.
    However, I am not at all familiar with your trans, and computerized stuff makes me cry.

    When you drained and refilled the trans - is there not a filter (or two filters) accessable in the pan? Typically you drop the pain, wear a bunch of atf, and then look up to the trans and see filters bolted on teh bottom. There may also be a magnet in the pan that will hold many of the metal shavings.

    The filters are pretty critical, and when you do a drain/refill, you are still drawing all the new fluid through the old filter. If that filter is original, at 73k, it is probably filthy and saturated with sludge. You may have an issue with pressure drop through the filter.... I've seen that several times before.

    Also, on some transmissions (again I'm unfamiliar with the 'yota auto), there are band tension adjustments internal to the case. Again, drop the pan, and there may be one or two small bolts that need some magic voodoo torquing to get the bands to the proper tension. That procedure may be listed in the haynes or chilton, or may only be in the FSM.

    You may also want to pull out the valve body and CAREFULLY disassemble and clean, being sure each solenoid and spool moves smoothly. The carefully part comes with a digital camera and a pair of calipers.... Photograph every ball, and measure them. Some transmissions (Chrysler, esp) use several ball sizes.

    HTH!

    NOT saying that any of the above are the problem, just a couple of things that catch my eye from your original post.

  8. #8
    jam
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    Here is my question? are you experiencing any of the affects of a failed Torque Converter Lockup Solenoid? The only reason I ask is that how can you be sure it's not the sensor that has failed and not the actually solenoid. I also find it odd (but not unbelievable that there is no filter in the transmission, but who knows. If the solenoid is the failed part then I doubt that any amount of flushing will permanently fix the problem. After all this is a failed electrical component not a mechanical one. While I never enjoy messing with transmissions it's not impossible. You just have to be patient and take your time. I would do it just on the principal of saving 500 bucks that I could spend on something else.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shizzlemah View Post
    When you drained and refilled the trans - is there not a filter (or two filters) accessable in the pan? Typically you drop the pain, wear a bunch of atf, and then look up to the trans and see filters bolted on teh bottom. There may also be a magnet in the pan that will hold many of the metal shavings.
    Thanks for the info!!

    When i changed the fluid, I just pulled the drain plug off the bottom of the pan - didn't drop the pan. After thinking about it and checking the service records, I can't find when the filter would have been replaced. Original owner had the tranny flushed as part of the 30k mile service, but nothing was noted about the filter. So it's probably original, and you're probably spot-on. I'll be dropping the pan this weekend.

    I think if I have to remove the valve body to fix this, I'll probably be taking it to a shop. I'm chicken to screw something up.

    Jam:
    No, I am not really experiencing any effects of a failed T.C.L.S. I have had one or two "rough shifts", usually downshifts when braking in the last few months, but besides that, my transmission seems as smooth as the day I got it.


    So here's my plan at the moment:

    1. Pick up new trans filter on way home from work before this weekend.
    2. Pull drain plug, go get lunch (it takes awhile to drain).
    3. Remove tranny pan - appears to be 7, 10mm bolts.
    4. Locate and replace filter. Check magnet for shavings (Somehow I think I remember reading that Toyotas use a magnetic drain plug for this purpose).
    5. Fill with ATF and Sea Foam Trans-Tune mixture according to instructions on bottle.
    6. Go drive for awhile.
    7. Drain and fill with regular ATF.
    8. Drive some more.
    9. Drain and fill one more time.
    10. Reset codes and test drive for a few days.
    11. If problem comes back, take to shop and admit defeat.


    Will I need a new gasket? Any surprises I should be in for?

    I have the Chilton's manual and the Toyota manual. Both cover the procedure and the instructions are nearly identical, the Chilton's manual is a little more step-by-step.

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead


    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown

  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    The check engine light is a real pain to make go away. I had that problem with my car, but I don't have the computer to hook it up to and had to take it to a garage. $80/hour just to diagnose it, and it took 3 hours just to find the problem.

    For my car, it wasn't a real problem, it was a bad sensor that was in a really tough spot to replace. All together it cost me about $500, but the light went away.

  11. #11
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    I do quite a bit of agri-mechanical repair stuff, not so much with autos though. A buddy of mine has an auto repair shop and has been in the car repair business for about 30 years. He subscribes to alldata.com and gets pretty much everything he needs to know about any vehicle. The info he gets from them is extensive ! In fact he doesn't use any type of repair book any more. Sometimes when we both get stumped we access his Alldata info. Of course the level of subscription he has is pretty expensive, however Alldata offers a subscription level for DIY, and I believe for about $25 you can access their data for one car, for one year. You might think about it to help you resolve your transmission problem, in fact I believe it lists "service tech bulletins" from the manuf. as well.

    BTW I don't work for Alldata.

    ALLDATAdiy.com :: Easy To Use Repair Information
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    Distinguished Member Array Ghettokracker71's Avatar
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    Ugh. If only I was still service writing/managing a full-fledged shop,I could be more of a help.

    I'm sorry I don't know autos that well. I do manage a quicklube now-a-days.

    (I've got my 1991 Honda CRX Si in peices about to finish by saturday hopefully. Its got 1992 Acura Integra engine swap//1998 Honda Civic SIR-G trans)

  13. #13
    Senior Member Array Pete Zaria's Avatar
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    OK...

    So today I got my car up on a lift, drained the transmission, pulled the pan off, replaced the filter, checked the solenoids out (they seemed clean and free-moving), put it back together, and then powerflushed the transmission. A friend of mine that works at an auto shop was nice enough to let me use his lift and tools for awhile. I reset the error codes before I left.

    It's shifting smooth as silk, everything sounds/runs perfect... But by the time I got home, it was throwing error code P0770 (Torque Converter Lockup Solenoid) again.
    I'm beginning to wonder if it's just a faulty sensor, since everything seems to be working perfectly.

    Any ideas before I take it to the tranny shop?

    Thanks for all the help, guys.

    Peace,
    Pete Zaria.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    - Margaret Mead


    "Booger Hook Off the Bang Switch" - unknown

  14. #14
    Member Array centermass's Avatar
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    Your solenoid may be the sensor. What I mean is that the pcm or tcm may read resistance in the solenoid and give a reading accordingly. In other words the feedback from the solenoid may be monitored in a way the it is supposed to operate in a certain range. As the solenoid wears the resistance may change. Now I'm no guru on that brand of car, but I was a GM certified mechanic and have some experience with sensors. I would replace the solenoid first to see if that will make the code go away before bringing it to the shop. BTW, for those looking for a DIY way to work and diagnose cars, you can get a scanner at auto-zone for about $180 that comes with a trial period of free diagnotics info (trouble code symptom charts)online. (No, I don't work at auto-zone)I have a 97 gmc extended cab pickup and have never changed the trans fluid in it. I was an engine man when I worked on cars, but the transmission guys that I worked with told me not to change the trans fluid. They told me the transmission would start giving me problems if I did. I don't know if that's true, but mine hasn't given me any problems with 150 thousand miles on it.
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  15. #15
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Here is something for you DIY'ers. You can get the free demo of the PCM scan tool here. If you have a laptop, and the cord to interface with your car's OBDII port. With the full program version, you may be able to adjust your PCM, and view all the settings and parameters. Click 'download the demo'.
    Palmer Performance Engineering - PCMSCAN

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