Catera transmission problem
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Cadillac Catera and Cimarron Forum Discussion, Catera transmission problem in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; I've had my 1999 Catera for a little over 2 years now. Just recently she died on me. My husband ...
  1. #1
    kalmasi80's Avatar
    kalmasi80 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Catera transmission problem

    I've had my 1999 Catera for a little over 2 years now. Just recently she died on me. My husband saw how upset I was over losing her and decided to bring her back to life for me. A new radiator, heater core, motor mounts, and engine (with only 35k miles on it), and she ran like new. Less than a month later, I was driving through town and the transmission light came on, and I immediately noticed a difference in drivability. Even with the gas pedal floored, I was accelerating at a snails pace. I wanted to check the tranny fluid but found out its not possible unless you put it on a lift. I am dreading taking it to the shop because I'm scared its going to be another astronomical repair bill. Has anyone else ever had this problem? I'm praying it is an easy (cheap) fix...

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  3. #2
    MoistCabbage's Avatar
    MoistCabbage is online now Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    The light indicates that a code has been set, it's not a transmission fluid issue. Take the car to AutoZone, and have the codes pulled. Post the codes, and their definitions, here.

  4. #3
    elvin315's Avatar
    elvin315 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    It might be in limp-home mode. Happens to my Catera every once in a while. I pull over, shut her off, and restart. If that doesn't work try disconnecting and reconnecting the battery. The 4L40-E transmission is entirely controlled by Transmission Control Module (TCM) Sometimes the TCM senses a failure, real or not, and puts the trans into limp-home mode. Sounds like that's what happened here. Resetting the TCM sometimes clears the codes and returns the trans to normal. Try it, it's cheap. Same for checking any TCM related fuses.

  5. #4
    98Catera_2010's Avatar
    98Catera_2010 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Our tranny is a 4L30-E not 4L40-E

  6. #5
    kalmasi80's Avatar
    kalmasi80 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    I wasn't able to take it to Auto Zone. I live in a pretty rural area, and I was hesitant to drive it that far. Luckily there is a GM dealer in my town, so I brought it there. They hooked it up, and it turned out to be a bad throttle sensor. One more stupid problem with this car... If I wasn't so damn in love with it, it would have been gone a long time ago! Such a money pit!

  7. #6
    elvin315's Avatar
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    Quote Originally Posted by 98Catera_2010 View Post
    Our tranny is a 4L30-E not 4L40-E
    Sorry, typo.

  8. #7
    bobbyc67 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    I can tell you with 99% certainty what is wrong. On the drivers side of the transmission you have a transmission shift position sensor. Look at it under the car and see if it is wet with transmission fluid. If so, It has a plug(connector), 3 bolts holding it on. It sometimes has a shield over it and you have to remove the shift cable. This is very simple to do. To replace this sensor costs a few hundred for the part. OR you can (or your husband if he knows anything about cars) remove it. It has 7 torx screws holding it closed. Don't worry, nothing falls out when you open it. You will find it full of transmission fluid, thus confusing the computer and it doesn't know what gear to be in. The cause of this is a $2 seal right where that shaft comes out of the transmission and goes through this sensor. It leaks and the sensor gets fluid in it . You get a can of parts cleaner(carb and choke, brake parts ,etc) and spray the fluid out of it(after you open it of course). You then put a little dielectric grease in it so it is lubricated. Screw it back together and put it back on. You should be able to change the seal on the transmission as well. It is just like an axle seal and should be able to pry it out and tap a new one in. I bought one already but haven't taken the switch back off to replace the seal. I'll do it soon, but the car runs GREAT as far as shifting goes. If you or your husband can do this you can get out with about a 15-20 dollar fix. OR you can take it to a shop and let them get you for several hundred to tell you that you need a new switch or a transmission rebuild for several thousand. If you like, print my reply and take it to a shop and ask them to try this if you don't know how to do it yourself. I am a mechanic by the way and had this exact issue with my 99 catera last month. Keep in mind, your switch COULD be bad, but not likely, but it is worth the effort to try this cheap, and effective, fix first if that's all it is.

  9. #8
    RobV is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    PM me and I will email you a PDF file with pictures to do as above. It is 1.2M and I can not reduce it to 300k site limit.

  10. #9
    retho78 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    Quote Originally Posted by bobbyc67 View Post
    I can tell you with 99% certainty what is wrong. On the drivers side of the transmission you have a transmission shift position sensor. Look at it under the car and see if it is wet with transmission fluid. If so, It has a plug(connector), 3 bolts holding it on. It sometimes has a shield over it and you have to remove the shift cable. This is very simple to do. To replace this sensor costs a few hundred for the part. OR you can (or your husband if he knows anything about cars) remove it. It has 7 torx screws holding it closed. Don't worry, nothing falls out when you open it. You will find it full of transmission fluid, thus confusing the computer and it doesn't know what gear to be in. The cause of this is a $2 seal right where that shaft comes out of the transmission and goes through this sensor. It leaks and the sensor gets fluid in it . You get a can of parts cleaner(carb and choke, brake parts ,etc) and spray the fluid out of it(after you open it of course). You then put a little dielectric grease in it so it is lubricated. Screw it back together and put it back on. You should be able to change the seal on the transmission as well. It is just like an axle seal and should be able to pry it out and tap a new one in. I bought one already but haven't taken the switch back off to replace the seal. I'll do it soon, but the car runs GREAT as far as shifting goes. If you or your husband can do this you can get out with about a 15-20 dollar fix. OR you can take it to a shop and let them get you for several hundred to tell you that you need a new switch or a transmission rebuild for several thousand. If you like, print my reply and take it to a shop and ask them to try this if you don't know how to do it yourself. I am a mechanic by the way and had this exact issue with my 99 catera last month. Keep in mind, your switch COULD be bad, but not likely, but it is worth the effort to try this cheap, and effective, fix first if that's all it is.

    Where do you get the transmission seal from and if you have the part number, please post it here?

    Thanks.

  11. #10
    bobbyc67 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    You can get the seal from Advance auto and it is about 2 bucks. I don't have the part# handy atm as I am not at home. It is just like an axle seal, so if you are familiar with those you know how easy it is to change.

  12. #11
    retho78 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    Thanks, I bought one from Advance auto and haven't messed with the switch yet.


    Thanks.

  13. #12
    retho78 is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    I got the neutral safety switch cleaned yesterday and installed it. At first the lights were dancing while I was shifting the gears but now it's back to normal after few drives.

  14. #13
    kaustein is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Catera transmission problem

    Cut your losses. Nice when everything is working, but I don't think that I ever really experience EVERYTHING work at once. You will reach your tipping point. The cars sell well in urban settings!

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