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Dave Nova
Dave Nova, ASE Certified Tech
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 19451
Experience:  ASE Master Certification. GM World Class Certification
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I have a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada with a transmission issue

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I have a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada with a transmission issue @ 197k miles. In drive, gears 1 and 2 work okay, no apparent slipping, when it tries to go into 3rd, it goes in neutral around 3k RPMs I've checked the transmission fuse, replaced shifting solenoids, trans filter, replaced oil and there are no error codes. Thoughts on what to replace next...TPS, PCM, or pray that I find a honest tranny specialist?

If the check engine light is not coming on and there are no error codes, the problem is then not electrical. Not in the PCM, wiring, or the solenoids. The problem is a mechanical failure. A very common failure in this transmission is failure of the 3-4 clutch. The PCM commands a shift to 3rd gear, the solenoids turn off to direct fluid flow to the 3-4 cluctch, 2nd gear disengages, but 3rd does not engage. The transmission does need to come apart to replace the 3-4 clutch seals and clutch plates.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Does the transmission need to be removed for this type of repair? Is this something a fairly mechanical minded person might be able to tackle? What would be a typical price range for a repair of this nature? So I should at a repair or replace the unit with a rebuilt transmission? At 197k miles, I'd seriously debate putting a large amount of money into this vehicle....thoughts/comments would be appreciated. Thanks!

Yes the transmission does have to come out of the vehicle for this repair. Transmisson repairs are fairly complex and take special tools most people do not have. Even most professional mechanics are wary to tear into an automatic transmission. There are a few at the dealer level and of course those at the transmisson repair shops that will tackle such a repair. With a vehicle of this age and mileage, it would be unwise to take apart the transmission to just service the 3-4 clutch. The other seals should be replaced and any other clutches/bands should also be serviced at this time. Basically the transmission will be rebuilt when it is taken apart. Prices for rebuilt/replacement transmissions will range from $1200-1900. The higher priced units will tend to have a longer warranty, not necessarily higher quality repairs.

If the prime consideration is money, get a used transmission from a salvage yard, the average cost is around $600 and most will give you a 90 day warranty. Install fresh fluid when installing the transmission and if it lasts you the 90 days, it will likely last 3-4 more years. This is what I do for my personal vehicles and for the vehicles I sell on my small used car lot. Have not had a problem yet.

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