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Slow shift 3rd to 4th, 99 Leg, 4EAT


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22 replies to this topic

#1 mikeamondo

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:13 AM

Hello!
We have a 99 Legacy Wagon, Ann. Ed., 2.2L, 4EAT auto, AWD with 85k miles, which we purchased a month and a half ago. It was having some rough shifting issues and the fluid looked orangy brown, so we had it changed at Monro. Fluid change, new filter, no detergent. The shifting improved, however, after driving it a couple weeks, it's become obvious that it's still not quite right.... Here's what's happening:

Going uphil, the car downshifts into 3rd as you'd expect. When cresting the top of the hill, the rpms increase and the car seems to lag in 3rd about 15 to 20 seconds longer than you'd expect. It does finally shift into 4th. All other shifting seems fine.

So, I checked the fliuid level. It is overfilled by maybe a half pint. I drove the car till hot, parked on the level, removed the dipstick, backed the car up and pulled it forward and ran through the other gears, then back to park, waited a couple minutes and checked it. Fluid comes up to the T on HOT...

Could the overfill situation cause the shifting problem or are we looking at something more ominous here? Any ideas?

Thanks!
Mike

#2 Rooster2

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:59 AM

If the ATF was simply drained and replaced, then the fluid was only about half changed. The remaining half stays inside the torque converter, and won't drain out. If you are a "do it your selfer," on car repairs, it is very easy to change the ATF yourself. Simply drive the car up a pair of car ramps, slide under the car and remove the drain plug from the transmission. The plug is exactly like the drain plug used to change the oil. Add replacement ATF with a funnel through the tube that contains the ATF dip stick.

Prolly best to have the correct amout of ATF in your trany. Too much ATF can cause some internal fluid foaming problems.

Try the above see if this helps your trany to shift correctly.

#3 nipper

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 10:45 AM

Is this with or without the cruise?

http://www.endwrench...InsiderInfo.pdf
page 24

SUbarus have odd shifting patterns and sometimes very hard shifts. @ years with Blu and there are days that i still think something is wrong sometimes.

Overfilling will cause foaming of the cluid. Foamed fluid means the tranny is using areated fluid to work with, which is not a very good thing. Fluid is a solid (considered so for hydraulics) to transmit force. Air in the fluid makes it spongy.

nipper

#4 johnceggleston

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:15 AM

i have had a similar experience in my 97obw. but it only happens after a downshift & running in 3rd for a while, usually asociated with climbing hills. it never does it on relatively flat highways when climbing up through the gears.

i just assumed it was the TCU 'learning' a new driving pattern. in effect the TCU says "i was going at 3000 rpms in 3rd instead of 4th, there must be a reason, i'll keep it there until i'm sure it does not need it any more." and so it shifts a little later.

this may be completely wrong, just my ill-logic, but my ford 350 pickup does a similar thing when i push the 'tow / haul' button. i know this is not the same. but the TCU is supposed to 'learn."

#5 porcupine73

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:21 AM

Hi. If all other shifting seems fine, like it just seems like it is staying in 3rd for a while after the hill climb, and then shifts to fourth normally, I'd say that is normal. I have an '00obw which has an early 4EAT phase II like your '99, and it does that same thing after a fast steep hill climb.

Do you notice any abnormal delay when shifting from park or reverse to drive right after startup?

#6 mikeamondo

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:31 AM

Thanks for the replies! I verified that they did a complete fluid change at Monro... connecting the pump to a vat of fresh fluid and all that. They normally do a detergent rinse, but had no problem skipping that part.

The first time I checked the transmission fluid a week or so ago, it did look frothy on the stick. Today, it looked less so, but it was not as hot as the first check.... So, I will let it get good and hot and check the fluid again.

Sounds like if it's getting frothy, and by extension 'spongy', that it might not be moving the internal parts quite as quickly as it should... and might cause the slow shift issue? Possible?

I followed the link and read the description of the shifting patterns on the 99's. When I was on a very slick road last week, with mediocre tires, coming downhill, the tranny did in fact shift down into third, but then began shifting back a forth between 4th and 3rd (I think) at about 3 - 5 second intervals. We've since replaced the tires, and this morning it did not behave the same way, however the roads were nowhere near as slick. Not sure if that's related, but thought I'd mention it. Sure would like to find a way to shut that downhill assist off!

--Mike

#7 nipper

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:33 AM

The 4-3 shift back and forth would be from frothy fluid.

nipper

#8 mikeamondo

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:35 AM

Hi. If all other shifting seems fine, like it just seems like it is staying in 3rd for a while after the hill climb, and then shifts to fourth normally, I'd say that is normal. I have an '00obw which has an early 4EAT phase II like your '99, and it does that same thing after a fast steep hill climb.

Do you notice any abnormal delay when shifting from park or reverse to drive right after startup?


No delays from park to reverse or at any other time. As far as being normal, it seems to last way to long and lets the rpms climb pretty high... can't say how high right now, but I'll check next time I drive it. It's enough for you to think "hey why isn't the tranny shifting?" and then a couple seconds later it shifts. I've had several Subs and countless other automatics... this sure doesn't feel like anything I'd call "normal."

#9 mikeamondo

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:37 AM

The 4-3 shift back and forth would be from frothy fluid.

nipper


Ah Hah!

I'll get the fluid drained off to the right levels and test her out. I'll also check the dipstick for frothy-ness over the next few drives.

Thanks!
--Mike

#10 OB99W

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 11:52 AM

[...]When cresting the top of the hill, the rpms increase and the car seems to lag in 3rd about 15 to 20 seconds longer than you'd expect. It does finally shift into 4th. All other shifting seems fine.

While the shift lag can be annoying, as already noted, it may be normal (depending on severity). However, the engine speed flare might be more of a concern. By how many rpm does it increase?


[...]Could the overfill situation cause the shifting problem or are we looking at something more ominous here? Any ideas?

The 4EATs (like many other automatics) are sensitive to fluid level, and as Nipper pointed out, aeration can be a problem. Dropping the level so that when fully warmed it isn't overfilled is a good idea, although this won't necessarily resolve what you're describing.

#11 porcupine73

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 12:04 PM

No delays from park to reverse or at any other time. As far as being normal, it seems to last way to long and lets the rpms climb pretty high... can't say how high right now, but I'll check next time I drive it. It's enough for you to think "hey why isn't the tranny shifting?" and then a couple seconds later it shifts. I've had several Subs and countless other automatics... this sure doesn't feel like anything I'd call "normal."


Yes that's how mine feels too. After a hill climb I'm just starting to think hm is thing going shift back to 4th or not? Then it does. When I say 'normal' I mean functioning as intended, not whether or not it seems correct. Also if your other soobs were earlier than '99, they would have had the 4eat phase I, which is a bit different and doesn't have the hill descent stuff, etc.

On the hill descent, it will shift down to 3rd if you even touch the brake. Then if you are touching the gas even slightly like your foot just even resting on it, it will shift back to 4th. Maybe that is what is happening in that case.

#12 mikeamondo

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 12:04 PM

While the shift lag can be annoying, as already noted, it may be normal (depending on severity). However, the engine speed flare might be more of a concern. By how many rpm does it increase?


The 4EATs (like many other automatics) are sensitive to fluid level, and as Nipper pointed out, aeration can be a problem. Dropping the level so that when fully warmed it isn't overfilled is a good idea, although this won't necessarily resolve what you're describing.


Well... you know how you get used the sound of you car, and just know by intuition when it should shift? It goes higher than that. :)
I'll check later today when we head home to see just how high it goes before it shifts. I'm hoping to be able to drain the fluid a little this evening. It's been snowing and nasty here, so I need to head over to my folk's house where I can use a nice, slightly warm, garage!

--Mike

#13 Rooster2

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 01:45 PM

I have a 99 withthe 4EAT. It shifts fine with the exception of hesitancy at a stop, of not quickly engaging shifts from D to R, and R to D. The 99's have a reputation of doing this. I added a bottle of Lucas Transmisson fix, or something close to that name. It helps to reduce the problem somewhat, while making gear shifts just a little more positive, but not annoyingly over positive.

#14 mikeamondo

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 04:22 PM

UPDATE! .... and clarification.

The fluid is, I think, at the correct level, though it seemed nearly impossible to get it there. (Might be a clue... is there a tranny issue that results in different fluid level readings under identical conditions?) Even with the fluid correct, the aforementioned transmission shift issue is still prevalent. However, in looking over my description of it, and the replies, I don't think I've described it well at all.... I've now timed the hesitation and qualified it a little better, so here goes....

As I start up a hill, the car will shift down into 3rd gear, as I climb the hill at around 40 mph. At the top of the hill, the rpms start to increase as the speed increases. By 45-48 mph, the rpms are hitting around 2800 or 2900. I then hold it there, at 48 mph, as I crest the hill and enter the level section of road. It will stay in 3rd gear, taching 2900 rpm for a full 12-14 seconds after creating the hill before finally upshifting into 4th. (my earlier descrip. made it sound like the rpms were fluctuating... they don't, but only increase as the speed increases after cresting the hill.) It DOES NOT do this when accelerating from a stop... only after downshifting to climb a hill... and, regardless of the steepness of the hill or whether it goes to level or downhill at the top, the 12-14 second hesitation remains the same. Now... 12 seconds in 3rd gear might seem normal at first... but I suggest you check out your shifting pattern under similar circumstances next time you are out.... it's an eternity! I'd be interested to hear how long some other trans. take to shift back up under a similar load.

One other point: the car is weak. Sometimes 40-45 is all it will do without shifting down into 2nd on steeper hills. I'm thinking it just needs a tune up.... plugs, wires, etc. What suggestions do you have for tackling the power issue? And.... is this tranny toast?

Thanks!
Mike

#15 nipper

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 04:52 PM

the upshift is right, they tend to do that untill you move the gas pedal. i usally back a hair of the pedal, and it will upshift. The tranny is looking at the throttle position to determin if it is still going up hill. It expects you to bakc off the gas once the ground gets level, then it will upshift. Try taking your foot off the gas pedal, or backing off, and it will upshift.

A tuneup never hurts.

Its not the that car is weak, its the way that it is geared. Try what i suggested and tell us what happens. it sounds just like Blu, which is normal.

nipper

#16 OB99W

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 05:17 PM

[...]The fluid is, I think, at the correct level, though it seemed nearly impossible to get it there.[...]

As long as you're leaving the dipstick out long enough for any fluid to return from the tube to the pan, the reading should be sufficiently accurate. Trust the side of the stick that gives the lower reading.


Even with the fluid correct, the aforementioned transmission shift issue is still prevalent. However, in looking over my description of it, and the replies, I don't think I've described it well at all.... I've now timed the hesitation and qualified it a little better, so here goes....[...]

Your new description doesn't read like the engine speed is flaring (which was my interpretation based on your previous description), just that the reduced load after cresting the hill is allowing the engine to speed up. However, perhaps it's not increasing in RPM rapidly enough for the ECU and TCU to cause an upshift as soon as you'd expect. That leads me to...

One other point: the car is weak. Sometimes 40-45 is all it will do without shifting down into 2nd on steeper hills. I'm thinking it just needs a tune up.... plugs, wires, etc.[...]

...why you say "the car is weak". By all means, if a tune-up hasn't been done, take care of that; the "etc" should include air and fuel filters. However, I'm wondering if something else might explain what you've been experiencing. It's a long shot, but sometimes an exhaust restriction can cause power loss (especially noticeable climbing hills), and can seem that the trans is the culprit. OTOH, if gas mileage is decent and power seems otherwise adequate, then things may just be "normal"; the shift maps on the '99 4EAT aren't ideal, in my opinion.

#17 mikeamondo

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 08:36 AM

the upshift is right, they tend to do that untill you move the gas pedal. i usally back a hair of the pedal, and it will upshift. The tranny is looking at the throttle position to determin if it is still going up hill. It expects you to bakc off the gas once the ground gets level, then it will upshift. Try taking your foot off the gas pedal, or backing off, and it will upshift. nipper


Thought of that... if there is a sufficient downhill section at the top of the grade, I can actually take my food completely of the accelerator, and the car will still remain in 3rd for 12 seconds.... I've tried letting off the gas, adding more gas.... cussing, begging, pleading..... still.... 12-14 seconds at 3,000 rpm before it downshifts.

Here's my next test.... I'm going to try pulling the shifter into 3rd manually and right back into fourth to see if that will make it up shift. We'll see what that does.

OTOH, if gas mileage is decent and power...


It gets around 20 mpg. That's all I was expecting... should it be higher? I'll try to get to the tune up this weekend and also do the test I described above in the next day or so....

thanks for the help, guys!

#18 nipper

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 08:52 AM

OK look at the TPS, it is really waht determins when the transmission shifts. If its not putting out the proper signal, the tranny wont know what to do.

nipper

#19 OB99W

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:18 AM

It gets around 20 mpg. That's all I was expecting... should it be higher?[...]

My own '99 OB, given the hills around here and mixed (very little highway) driving, gets about 20 mpg in warm weather (about 17 mpg in winter). If your driving includes a significant amount of cruising on the highway, the gas mileage should be higher than 20; I've gotten 26-27 on highway-only trips.

The ECU/TCU interaction is fairly sophisticated. Slope operation is at least partially based on sensed throttle angle versus engine rpm; that data is used by the TCU to help determine when to use the slope shift map. Therefore, problems with the TPS or speed sensors can cause shifting to not occur as expected; a marginal problem might not generate a DTC. Even somewhat-dragging brakes can play into this, since the detected speed would be lower than "normal" for the throttle position, and that would likely not trigger a trouble code.

EDIT: I got distracted while composing the above, and I see that Nipper posted about the TPS before I sent my post. Good, now two of us are either right or barking up the wrong tree. :)

#20 mikeamondo

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:25 AM

I was beginning to suspect the TPS as well.... but I have no idea about how to test or check it. Can they do that at the dealership? What kind of tester would be needed?

#21 OB99W

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:23 PM

I was beginning to suspect the TPS as well.... but I have no idea about how to test or check it. Can they do that at the dealership? What kind of tester would be needed?

It can be tested with various instruments (voltmeter, ohmmeter, etc.), but the dealer is likely to use a Select Monitor.
See http://endwrench.com/images/pdfs/Fuel.pdf for general info on the TPS and other engine management devices.

#22 mikeamondo

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 04:59 AM

AND THE WINNER IS:

Even somewhat-dragging brakes can play into this, since the detected speed would be lower than "normal" for the throttle position,


Over the past week, a "whorp, whorp, whrop" sound began and then grew louder, as the weak power condition increased. Would not be there when cold and then get worse as the car got hotter. Eventually, the telltale pulsation in the brake pedal would start... but there was not a hot-brake smell until two days ago. Turns out, the front pass. caliper had siezed up, but was not squeezing hard enough to really fry the brakes... only enough to slow her down a little and make them get moderately hot. Took it to Sears and had them replace the calipers and machine the rotors. Wow, what a difference it makes when you're not driving with a brake on! :burnout:

Better yet... the shifting issue is GREATLY imporoved! :banana:
It's not perfect. I still notice that hesitation to shift back into 4th after a moderately agressive hill climb... but the hesitation is more like 8 seconds instead of 12 and is much less common. My wife will likely not even experience it, as she drives very conservatively. I'm going to watch it over the next few weeks and see if I can qualify it a little better with some driving tests and maybe if I get a moment, I'll test the TPS as discussed.... but for now, it's the Legacy we've been dreaming it would be!

thanks for the help!
Mike

#23 OB99W

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Posted 12 March 2008 - 08:38 AM

[...]Wow, what a difference it makes when you're not driving with a brake on! :burnout:

Better yet... the shifting issue is GREATLY imporoved! :banana: [...]
thanks for the help!
Mike

You're welcome, I'm glad things got sorted out. You should see some increase in gas mileage as well.




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