Why Did My Transmission Fail?

Of the transmissions that enter our shop, over 88% failed due to design flaws. These are failures that were not caused by abuse, misuse, lack of maintenance, or excessive mileage.

A design flaw is characterized by a repeated failure in a specific area in any one type of transmission. Many products and upgrades are available from the vehicle manufacturer and in the aftermarket to alleviate these problems. Correcting the root cause of failure gives Suburban Transmissions the ability to provide long-term warranties, in most cases longer than other shops and even the dealers themselves.

Common Transmission Problem and Design Flaws

Chevy and GM SUVs such as the Tahoe, Yukon and Trailblazer often come in with a loss of reverse. The combination of high torque and considerable weight exposes a manufacturing flaw in the sun gear shell. When the shell breaks, the most noticeable symptom is no reverse.

The Ford Windstar shares the same transmission as the Taurus and its sisters, the Sable and Continental. The worn shafts in the picture above are each from a Windstar, and the damage is caused by a poorly designed bearing, which rides on the shaft. We install an upgraded bearing that alleviates this problem.

Honda Accord and Acura TL have a unique design that does not utilize planetary gears. This design places a limitation on the maximum diameter of the friction plates. An increase in force against the plates is necessary for proper operation, and this leads to premature wear. Honda Odyssey transmission repair service problems are primarily due to the torque converter clutch lockup shift valves and check valves. Upgraded transmission components, produced by Sonnax, can be installed during a rebuild or within a remanufactured unit. These parts are designed to correct the design flaws of the torque converter valves and valve body, and will help prevent future transmission failure.

Mercedes Benz automatic transmissions are 5 speed and fully electronically controlled. Most transmission problems in these cars are electrical, commonly the conductor plate above the valve body, which can be accessed without removing the transmission. Other electrical problems include fluid getting into the processor, and rain or beverage getting into the gear shifter.

In the eighties and nineties, Toyota and Lexus had reliable transmissions, but that has changed. The new automatic 5 speed transmissions in the Toyota Camry and Highlander, as well as the Lexus RX300 have proven very unreliable. Remanufactured transmissions can be purchased from the Toyota Dealer, but they only carry a 1 year warranty. These units don’t address the planetary gear carrier design flaw, so the problem is destined to reoccur. Suburban Transmissions welds the carrier to correct this problem, and can provide a 3 Year, 100,000 mile warranty.

Cadillacs such as the Deville and Seville with the Northstar engine have an input speed sensor and a viscous torque converter that are both prone to failure. The location of the sensor requires removal and partial disassembly of the transmission to replace it. While torque converter replacement only requires transmission removal, there are related seals that occasionally contribute to its failure, which should be replaced at the same time.

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