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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased a 1991 Trooper with 218,000 miles on it. It has a V6 in it and an automatic transmission.

A couple days after purchasing it, the transmission light came on. Upon checking the fluid, I found that it was low. It was also dark grayish. There wasn't much of a red color left in it.

At this point, the transmission was shifting a kind of hard, but worked fine.

I few days later, I dropped the pan and changed the filter and fluid. It is now at the proper amount when I check it.

My problem is this: The first time I took it out on the highway after the change, overdrive wouldn't work. The first 3 gears worked, but once it hit 55 mph, it "shifted" but wouldn't accelerate. When I pushed on the gas to make it accelerate it made a noise similar to the noise you hear when you run over the grooves on the side of the interstate, except quieter, and without the vibrations. The check engine light then came on.

I since then have tested overdrive again with the same results, except for no engine light.

Why would this happen now that I have replaced the fluid? I thought it would make things better, not worse! I hope to go get it diagnosed soon, but it would be nice to know some alternative opinions!

My Trooper also makes a whining noise that coincides with the RPMs. It doesn't do it in park or neutral so I assumed that the whining wasn't the transmission at first. Now I'm not so sure...
 

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Sometimes it's really hard on the old tranys to change out the oil especially if they are in fairly bad condition (dirty and burnt) !!! It sounds like it's slipping in overdrive. When you topped it off did you have it running and make sure it was starting to seep back out the fill hole ???

Welcome to the planet !!!! Sorry to hear about this for your first post ....
 

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Couple of things....I think you have the dipstick on this unit, and also IS this unit for sure the 4L30? I think it is, but I'm not 100% certain.

What fluid did you use?

These transmissions HATE Maxlife ATF

Another thought is the transmission might have been giving the previous owner issues, they might have put something in it enough to sale it, and now that you have it, and changed some of it's fluid, the issue could be re-appearing.

It's obvious the previous owner seriously neglected this transmission....not a good thing for the next buyer unfortunately. Bad problem is, is the transmission gets a bad rap and gets known for being problematic when it's only problem was being neglected.
 

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The transmission is probably just worn out. The sounds you're hearing are probably slipping/chattering clutches inside the tranny and overdrive unit (are they separate on these? Mine is a 5 speed...) Unfortunately, it's most likely going to have to be rebuilt. On the bright side, it's not as difficult as most people think and you could do this yourself. A rebuild kit (that comes with clutches, seals, etc.) is usually under $200 for most vehicles, and rebuilding an automatic tranny usually takes under 4 or 5 hours, on the bench. On the "not so bright" side, if you don't do it yourself, whatever garage you have do it for you will probably screw you out of at least an extra $800 to $1000 for the job. They don't seem to charge for actual labor and parts anymore, they just seem to make up these arbitrary numbers and write them on the bill. A bill for a tranny rebuild should include charges for between 8 to 13 hours of labor, depending on the vehicle (this includes R&R and rebuild time) at whatever their shop rates are, plus the cost of the parts (under $200 for the rebuild kit, plus the cost of a new TC and fluid and a filter, all told, usually under $400). Even at $100 per hour, it shouldn't cost more than around $1500 to $1700 for a tranny rebuild, at most. But for some reason, people get bills that are rarely under $2500. I was talking to a guy recently who simply needed a valve and a solenoid replaced, which required pulling the valve body...about $50 to $60 in parts, and maybe 2 hours labor. He paid $1300 and change. Another guy took his Durango in to have the tranny serviced. He drove it into he shop, running perfectly. The guy got it on the rack and tried telling him his transmission pump wasn't working and that he needed a rebuild (for the special price of $2395). This one, in particular, infuriated me for some reason.

Anyway, my point is that you can do it yourself, but if you don't, just be careful where you take it, and be sure to have done your research so you don't get screwed too badly. You will get screwed, just don't allow them to get away with too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Bradzuzu: Can you explain this method about making sure the fluid seeps out the back fill hole? I don't think that's what I did.

Ramblin Fever: I do believe that my Trooper has the 4L30E transmission, and yes, I did use Valvoline Maxlife ATF for DEXRON, DEXRON II, III and VI transmissions. Oops! What fluid would you suggest?

Rhodes: I'm afraid you're right, but I was really hoping to make this truck last for about 1,000 more miles. I never plan to make any long trips in it and will only be using it at school here in Washington. Probably the most difficult job I've ever done is replace the tranny fluid and replace a valve cover gasket on a fuel injected Honda. Do you really think I could rebuild it myself? Are there any specialized tools required besides jacks and a tool set?
 

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Well first Off yours is a 91 ... Does it have a dipstick up in the engine bay ??
Whats the engine in your trooper ??? 2.8 ??
I kinda jumped the gun...
 

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No special tools required, no. Just patience and some basic mechanical ability. If pulling the tranny yourself doesn't scare you off, then you can probably do the job just fine. I don't know my way around inside that particular transmission, but I've done maybe a couple dozen in GM and Dodge trucks and cars and never had any trouble. Regardless of what some mechanic might tell you, there aren't really any secrets in an automatic tranny, they all work mostly the same, and there (usually) isn't a bunch of special tools you need to do the job. The two most important things are keeping everything clean as it goes back together, and having a good source of information that gives specific directions. The parts are easy to get (Rockauto carries rebuild kits for most vehicles) and not that expensive at all.

I just checked parts at Rockauto...it doesn't give a kit for the transmission you mentioned for that year. It shows a 3080LE, the kit for it is $160. How positive are you about that transmission?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Bradzuzu: Yes, it has a dipstick in the engine bay, and no, I didn't add the fluid while it was running until it came out the fill hole. I just added fluid until we were a quart short of the recommended amount. Then we started it up and let it get warm. Next, we topped it off to the correct level with Lucas Transmission Oil because I think my tranny was leaking a bit. The engine is the 2.8 liter V6.

Rhodes: I'm not 100% sure. I'll try to check tomorrow.
 

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Before you go pulling the transmission...I"m serious about this, you need to drop the pan, change the filter and refill with castrol import Dex 3

Get at least 3-4qts of the Maxlife OUT of that transmission...these tranny's don't like that ATF.

Start with doing that first, hopefully that's all it is. But it is a very BIG possibility. When I used the Maxlife in my transmission, it shifted very harshly from 2-3rd....I didn't keep it in there long before returning to the Castrol.
 

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You warm it up and go off the dip stick readings. Ramblin fever and Rhodes are very wise about this so if I where you I'd take there advise. Oils cheaper than a rebuild...
 

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If you just need it to last another 1k or so, put a quart of Trans-X or Lucas oil tranny fix. Most people disagree, but I've seen lots of people use it without ill effect. Never seen it harm a tranny.
 

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Does the pan still have a drain plug ?? Or do you have to pull the stupid thing to drain the oil. Reason I ask is you could just dump/drain one or two quarts and add some regular dex III...
 

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if you can't change it until after thanksgiving, then just make sure you park it and don't drive it until after then.

do not keep driving it with the maxlife
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Rhodes: Thanks for the tip. I did see that Lucas makes a special "stop slip" formula. Maybe I'll try that. I guess the worst that can happen is it doesn't work.

Bradzuzu: Unfortunately I think I'll have to drop the pan.

Ramblin Fever: That shouldn't be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So here is an update. I changed the fluid yesterday and this time I put a quart of Lucas Transmission Fix in and then topped it off with Castrol Import Multivehicle ATF. I took it for a test drive today and it seems a little better, but now the symptoms are a little different...

4th gear is no longer giving me problems. Now the only time it makes that rumbling noise is when I hold a constant speed anywhere between 30mph and 45mph. For instance today I was driving on a flat road and the speed limit was 35. I reached 35 mph and held that speed. After about 5 seconds the rumbling noise came. I then accelerated and the noise vanished immediately. The noise also goes away when I take my foot off the gas. So I have to be going at a constant speed for it to start rumbling? As far as I can tell, if I were to keep driving it and never hold a constant speed for more than a few seconds, it would never grind!

Does this still sound like a normal transmission slip, or could it be something else?

I'm thinking about just continuing to drive it until I can afford to by another trooper. I can't afford a rebuild and I don't think I would have time to do it myself. (If it took me 5 hours to change the transmission fluid, imagine how long it would take me to rebuild the transmission!)
 

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It almost sounds like the rear diff has a problem. Have you checked the fluid in it ??? Slack no load condition can give off harmonics. Then the deceleration puts a lite load on the drivetrain, same with acceleration. Or the tourqe converter is not happy. Jack it up and carefully spin up the rearend and listen for the noise...
 

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not sure...would definitely check the rear differential, etc.

not sure why you installed lucas transmission fix, was hoping you'd just use straight castrol import. if the tranny's going, nothing's going to fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Bradzuzu: The only fluids I've checked are the ones under the hood. I'll try to check it as soon as I can. I'll also try jacking it up and listening but it will be a long time before I can try that.

Ramblin Fever: I figured it wouldn't hurt (then again, I was wrong about the Maxlife). Also, Rhodes suggested I try it since I only need about 1000 more miles out of it. (once I graduate I'll be able to afford a new car)
 

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My 4L30E made a rumbling/grinding noise between 35-45MPH when it was in third gear and the torque converter was locked up. When it shifted into 4th or dropped out of lockup then the noise went away. It also went away if I let my foot off the gas...seemed more of an "under load" issue than anything that resulted in the noise.

Did this for almost 90,000 miles and through 2 ATF changes, so, I'm not sure if you should worry.
 
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