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michael, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chevy
Satisfied Customers: 667
Experience:  17 ASE Cert.; over 20 yrs. exp./18 with GM
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my 98 chevy silverado with automatic transmission wont shift

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my 98 chevy silverado with automatic transmission wont shift into 3rd gear. 1st and 2nd shift just fine. a line busted and it was driven low on fluid for a very short time. i had the fluid replaced and the system flushed and the problem still persists. there is a cross-member so changing the filter is a last resort option. what other problems could cause this?

hello. IF the transmission was driven with a leak far enough (2-5 miles) it could have damaged the 3-4 clutches. these are the "weakest point" in the chevrolet transmissions. the best way to tell IF the clutches are damaged is to remove the transmission pan and look for a "black grit/material" in the transmission pan or filter.


IF there is a substance found in the pan... the most likely cause is the clutches... and the only "fix" would be to have the transmission overhauled/replaced.


i've built hundreds of GM transmissions at my dealership... and 90% of the failures are 3-4 clutches... due to fatigue, slippage, or towing more than vehicle capacity.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
we only drove a mile, mile and a half until i got to a place where i could fix the leak. when i had the system flushed, the tech said that there was nothing unusual about the fluid removed, just that it was slightly dark. is it possible that the fluid may have burnt a little and blocked the filter? should i go thru the trouble of removing the crossmember and changing the filter before i proceed with further diagnostics? and would the repair on your diagnosis require a complete rebuild? any help is greatly appreciated!

hello. removing the pan would give you the best overall idea of the shape the transmission is in. IF there is alot of metal, clutch material, or rubber pieces (from o-rings inside the trans) in the pan... an overhaul would be your best bet.


as for the filter being clogged up... i've had several units with what amounted to sludge in the filter and the transmission still had first gear! the filters have alot of surface area inside them.


it could save you a diagnostic fee to remove the pan and inspect it yourself before sending it to a shop... but since you've lost 3rd and 4th gears... the most common issue is clutch failure.

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