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ProAnswerMan, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Jeep
Satisfied Customers: 591
Experience:  25 Years on the job at a Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep Dealer. Master Chrysler Tech., Master ASE Technician
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1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited: The transmission wont shift

Customer Question

1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited - 4.0L Inline 6 cylinder. Problem: The transmission won't shift, except maybe for 1st gear. When shifter is in position 'D' and stepped on gas, the vehicle will not move at all OR will move for a small distance at less than 20mph then cease to move any further with the RPM's going high. Background: Couple of weeks before this happened, the coolant was constantly leaking from the front, right under the grill. I kept filling up the reservoir with coolant and would only last for a max of 2-3 days before its drained out and needed a refill. Please help to identify if the cooling system has caused the transmission problem. Please advise on things to be checked at home before towing to the mechanic shop. Thanks in advance.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Jeep
Expert:  ProAnswerMan replied 7 years ago.



As long as your trans fluid isn't milky looking there not related, you most likely have a radiator leaking in the front or a failed water pump. And on the transmission issue you most likely have a failed torque converter. I've had several fail causing the same condition and once repaired have an external trans cooler installed, this will prevent future trans problems. Thanks David.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
David, thanks for the prompt response. I checked the color of the trans fluid on the dipstick and it doesn't look milky. It looks more of a lightly colored red+brown mix.

Would appreciate if you can provide an estimate on how much it would cost to replace the waterpump, torque converter and the trans cooler. This would make me aware when I goto the mechanic.

Also, just out of curiosity....if the torque converter is blown, would it immediately smell like burnt coil inside the cabin? Am asking this because sometime before this problem started, there was suddenly the smell of burnt coil inside the cabin for a brief period. I ignored since I was driving around in a unfamiliar location and though it was some factory emission.

Thanks again in advance and highly appreciate you're time.
Expert:  ProAnswerMan replied 7 years ago.
Ok, an estimate at my location my differ from yours, but a water pump repair is around$100-$135 depending on the price of the pump. It pays an hour and half labor (1.5 hours) for the water pump. The torque converter repair is much higher and may even turn into an over/haul on the trans. The tech working on it will know when he starts to disassemble it and removing the trans pan and inspecting it (the trans has to be removed to replace the torque converter) as he does his diagnoses. And can cost as much as $1,200-$2,700. The cooler is $49.95 at Napa and an hour to install. Thanks and good luck, just look for a well known repair shop and they'll take care of you and your vehicle. And yes you can usually smell a burning coil smell when the trans is overly hot and slipage is accuring. Write back anytime and ask for me.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks again. Boy...that's quite a lot of money in trying to keep the car. I bought it 2 years ago for $2400(had 97k) and has 130K miles on it now. Am not looking to drive the car forever but at least for another 40-50K miles with regular maintenance, is it worthwhile to fix it for $2k given the reliability of these cars and the age or wiser to dump and get another? I'll totally respect and consider you're opinion on this since am quite confused as to what to do now!

Many thanks!
Expert:  ProAnswerMan replied 7 years ago.
I don't know your location but here in N.C. a jeep with 130K on it is bringing around $3,000-$4,500 depending on the condition of the body and interior. And in your condition the vehicle won't bring much as far as a trade in on a different vehicle or saleing it to someone, no one wants to buy them broken (I do, every thing I got was in someway broke and had to repair them). But before we jump to far let the repair shop give you an estimate on the repairs needed. It may be wise to repair it right now instead of replacing it. And tell the repair shop if in fact it is torque converter failure, that you just want the torque converter replaced and change the fluid and filter and have the bands adjusted, that will save you some money and maybe last another 100K. Just keep the fluid changed every 30K.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Hi, Thanks again.

Another 100K...I'll be very pleased if it does that, but not sure if this make/model and year is capable of that because of many unknowns thats still under the hood. If this is indeed the major problem with the ZJ's then fixing it gives a hope for the 200K mark, but I don't think it is or honestly am no expert on it. Apart from the current problems, I've loved this car from day one.

Anyway, assuming that I replace with another car, I intend to spend the same money as I would for the repair ~2.5k. In that case, do you have a personal recommendation for an used SUV that can last good with no major issues for another 40k miles?

This would be my last question, I promise. (Will accept on the reply and good feedback)

Very much appreciate you're patience, understanding and as well admire you're skills. Hopefully I can locate someone like yourself in my area(Chicago,IL) if I decide to fix it. Please let know on how to assign you to my questions for the future.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Accepting you're answers. Hope you can still answer this if time permits.

"Assuming that I replace with another car, I intend to spend the same money as I would for the repair ~2.5k. In that case, do you have a personal recommendation for an used SUV that can last good with no major issues for another 40k miles?