: Is the juice worth the squeeze?



bierman.d
05-24-09, 09:55 PM
Hello.

I'm going to try to get straight to the point.

I am a "suffering" STS owner, meaning that I own a 2005 STS4 V8 with the infamous shifting issue. Many of you may be aware of this. The cars develop shifting issues at around 20,000 miles in which the torque converter does not know how to properly operate. The result is increasingly hard shifting as well as a sort of "chuggling" when driving up slight inclines in 5th gear where the TC engages and slips repeatedly causing a less than smooth drive.
Cadillac offers a remedy, however. For $35, I took the car and had the transmission reprogrammed (thanks to a thread on this forum with the proper TSB #). I managed to tolerate the transmission fault for about 77,000 miles (that means I had it reprogrammed at 97,000 miles). The car drove so much better, although it was still noticeably harsh shifting into 4th. I was satisfied with it though because it no longer hunted for gears. You're probably wondering how I tolerated it for so long. Well, if you choose the gears manually with the shift gate, there is no hunting, and the impact of gear changes is somewhat less. I got used to that and ignored the problem. After the reprogram though, I was ecstatic that my car drove somewhat like a Cadillac again.

However, it has resorted to its original faulty state. The car is now again virtually undriveable in a civilized manner. The TSB says that if the problem persists, I need a new TC. This leaves me with two options: I can sell the car, or I can replace the transmission.

In its most basic form, my question is as follows:
To those of you who have experience with said transmission issue, if I were to replace my torque converter and have it reprogrammed one last time, would I ever encounter this programming problem again? I am prone to believe it would since the problem has happened again. But if someone can prove to me otherwise, I will obviously keep the car.

I love the car to death, but I simply will not put up with a faulty transmission.

Thanks.

EChas3
05-25-09, 09:17 PM
Like any other major repair, the answers to a few questions should suggest your path:

1. Are you confident the repair quote covers all the costs?
2. Has the car been checked for any/all other issues?
3. What other maintenance costs can you foresee in the next 12 months?
4. Would you buy this car today for the net cost of the repairs/maintenance less trade-in as is?
5. Is there another car you want instead?


It is almost always cheaper to repair a car than trade. There certainly are some that aren't worth fixing, but those have usually been neglected for a long time and entered 'beater' status when the owner lost the thrill of ownership. Not so likely with an enthusiast group like this one. I assume you would not sell this car in a private sale without the buyer knowing about the TC issue.

No offense meant towards those that like to trade often. Everyone has their own path to happiness. If it's worth it to you, enjoy!

In all cases you're better off with a car you want. You're happier and will care for it better. If you settle for less, that's OK just do so with your eyes open. They haven't outlawed freedom of choice. NOT YET!:hide:

bierman.d
05-25-09, 10:11 PM
Thank you for the insightful reply.

The question you are suggesting that I ask myself is actually what I'm trying to figure out right now:

If I can get it fixed and rest assured that the problem will never arise again, I would be ecstatic to keep my car. Otherwise, I can't justify pouring money into it. I understand the intense depreciation of a Cadillac and how much money I would lose on a car like this, but managing a transmission that will ultimately end up disappointing me again is something I do not want to have to deal with.
The good thing about said depreciation, though, is that I could go out and buy another Cadillac for a fantastic price, used of course. I have had experience with used cars before and as long as I put time/research into it, I walk away very happy. Who knows? I may even be able to find a deal on an STS-V. I know I could have fun with that :)

I see that you own a 2006 STS-4 V8. Have you ever encountered the same issue? It really has me pulling my hair out and I don't know what to do anymore :emocide:

EChas3
05-25-09, 11:36 PM
I have a little 'howl' reported at about 1800 RPM under very gentle throttle and occasionally have a bit of 'hunting' for the right gear. The ECM is constantly adjusting the transmission to the style of the driver. I can control it by varying the way I drive. If I do a lot of city driving using maximum fuel economy driving techniques (soft acceleration, coasting, etc.) the car will adjust in that direction and go overboard. A little N* power sets it straight! Do you vary your driving style much?

Based on what I've read in this forum, I believe the howl is more of an exhaust resonance than anything else. I know a lot of members have posted with this issue and it proved elusive. In my car this is really minor. My gearing and shift points are so unlike my wife's 2007 that they can't be compared. It would be fun to belly-up and exchange several 12-OZ curls on this topic. My premise would be that an RPM specific exhaust resonance howl is likely to vary greatly from car to car because harmonics can be reinforced with the smallest variations.

I've had my car since December and didn't push the dealer on the transmission fix when 'shaking down' my new toy. Since then, I've learned that the 'fix' is permament and some members have asked to revert back to the factory program with no success. Some of those originally complaining about the STS shifting poorly may have been obsessing about something that was working as designed. I've decided I like the way it drives with the stock program; upshifting, downshifting & torque converter clutch action.

Sorry, I digress, again. Here's an alternative. If the dealer won't go to bat for you, talk to the Caddy Zone Rep. With all the bulletins on this issue, maybe they would help. (Pay the labor?) From a thread several months ago (at least) someone theorized that the 'chuggle' problem would eventually damage/wear the torque converter and other tranmission components. I don't know automatic transmissions and certainly know even less about these new ones. But it does make sense that your car has run a lot of miles while not perfect. GM ought to care why so many cars have no issues and a group has this problem.

Alternative 2, find an auto-recycler with an STS4 V8 transmission and find the price for a swap. A complete swap sounds expensive but compared to $1,800 here (TC) and $2,400 there (labor/etc.) maybe it would cost less. It also circumvents any concerns about your shop needing the same 'clean room procedures' used on original assembly. I suppose the replacement could have the same problem but all the components would be different.

bierman.d
05-26-09, 07:04 PM
I have a little 'howl' reported at about 1800 RPM under very gentle throttle and occasionally have a bit of 'hunting' for the right gear. The ECM is constantly adjusting the transmission to the style of the driver. I can control it by varying the way I drive. If I do a lot of city driving using maximum fuel economy driving techniques (soft acceleration, coasting, etc.) the car will adjust in that direction and go overboard. A little N* power sets it straight! Do you vary your driving style much?
I'm unsure whether or not I have the howl you describe. If I do, I just dismiss it as a proper V8 trying to escape the restriction of such an exhaust ;) Which I personally do not mind at all. Also, I am almost always listening to music (sometimes rather loudly), so maybe I'm not noticing it for that reason too. This does not bother me.

I wouldn't say that I vary my driving styles much. I am actually a very soft driver most of the time. Occasionally, I do like to open up the throttle just to clean it out and have a little fun. I wouldn't say I do it excessively so.. maybe two to four times a week. Unfortunately, driving aggressively as so has yielded no results in terms of transmission function.


I've had my car since December and didn't push the dealer on the transmission fix when 'shaking down' my new toy. Since then, I've learned that the 'fix' is permament and some members have asked to revert back to the factory program with no success. Some of those originally complaining about the STS shifting poorly may have been obsessing about something that was working as designed. I've decided I like the way it drives with the stock program; upshifting, downshifting & torque converter clutch action.
So you are saying that your STS does shift kinda firmly? May I ask how many miles you have?
And you can trust me when I say my transmission is not functioning properly. Fourth gear shifts unexceptionally hard, jerking the whole car almost all of the time now days. This kind of shifting would not be acceptable in even the cheapest car available, let alone a $50,000 Cadillac. Prior to the reprogram 6,000 miles ago, first and second were the only gears that did not slam. I couldn't even drive up my driveway without it jerking me around. It seriously is unbearable and downright embarrassing when I need to give someone a ride.


Sorry, I digress, again. Here's an alternative. If the dealer won't go to bat for you, talk to the Caddy Zone Rep. With all the bulletins on this issue, maybe they would help. (Pay the labor?) From a thread several months ago (at least) someone theorized that the 'chuggle' problem would eventually damage/wear the torque converter and other tranmission components. I don't know automatic transmissions and certainly know even less about these new ones. But it does make sense that your car has run a lot of miles while not perfect. GM ought to care why so many cars have no issues and a group has this problem.
Yah, I don't think the dealer is going to do anything for me. They had no idea what I was talking about when I demanded that they hook their machine up. I printed off the thread on this website and had him read a little bit. Frankly, I don't think they will do anything right unless I tell them how to do it.

Also, I remember reading that someone had the same problem that I am experiencing: The car rode smoothly for a few thousand miles, but later started shifting poorly again. I repeat that the TSB claims that if the problem persists, the TC may have to be replaced or rebuilt. Someone on the forum had a couple clutches within replaced, but didn't post the results. I guess I should probably try to contact him.


Alternative 2, find an auto-recycler with an STS4 V8 transmission and find the price for a swap. A complete swap sounds expensive but compared to $1,800 here (TC) and $2,400 there (labor/etc.) maybe it would cost less. It also circumvents any concerns about your shop needing the same 'clean room procedures' used on original assembly. I suppose the replacement could have the same problem but all the components would be different.
I'm not saying that this is a likely option for me yet, and maybe this is a long shot, but if I did resort to this, would I be able to put in the 6 speed put in the newer STS4s? I imagine that this would be more expensive with the computer and whatnot, but if it can promise me life-long results, I may have to look into this.

EChas3
05-26-09, 08:04 PM
I have about 45,000 miles. No 'hard' shifting to speak of. Sometimes there's a bit of 'hunting' as if the controller is on the verge of shifting to the next higher gear, does so and then a bit later downshifts. It's rare but can happen around 50 with a slight incline.

I too read another member's post about a similar problem. I don't think the TC totally fixed it. It doesn't make sense that reprogramming the ECM actually worked for a while and now is worse than ever. Unless as I theorize, it's adapting back to the same wrong behavior.

Hey, here's an idea. There's a nearby thread that discusses the ability to put a custom 'tune' on your ECM. This thread is titled "Who makes 14 or 15 Inch Wheels for the STS" but rambles into custom tuning! Maybe that would help.

If the dealer you are using now is so bad, I'd say you have to find another one. Looked at one way, you should still be under the 100,000 mile drivetrain warranty that is advertised all over my dealer's showroom. I doubt anyone else will be able to help (short of a transplant). I expect that only a 2005-6 V8 AWD transmission will fit.

Maybe a really good tranmission specialist might be able to help.

Where are you located? Maybe another member could suggest a nearby quality dealer.

bierman.d
05-26-09, 09:28 PM
Thanks! I will look more into that ECM tuner next chance I get.

Anyways, I am located in North-East Iowa. There is only one certified dealer in the local area. Traveling is not an issue for me though (I love traveling actually.. plus I'm used to having had to drive 80 miles every month to service my old Audi ;)). If no one can attest any dealers, I can look around and see what they know about the issue.

Unfortunately, I have 103,300 miles on the clock, so the warranty is a no-go :(. But frankly, saving my car means a lot to me so I may be able to justify spending a reasonably hefty price if permanent results are a likelihood.

Meanwhile, thanks to jayoldschool for helping a noobie (me :D) PM a member, I have contacted ahuyghe and hopefully will get a reply soon.

EChas3
05-26-09, 10:53 PM
I just had another thought. When in Sport mode ('sD' on the display) the transmission is supposed to upshift late & hard. It's also supposed to hold a gear longer upon deceleration like you would if driving a stick car on a road course. This sounds a lot like your symptoms.

Does your transmission behave any different in the regular Drive position ('D') with the shift on the left side of the gate versus Sport ('sD') with the shifter on the right side of the gate, but still allowing the transmission to shift normally.

I recall you have been living with the issue by shifting manually. If your 'D' acts the same as your 'sD' we might have learned something important. If the display changes properly, it's not something so simple as a bad switch. On the other hand, some tranmission control component may be at fault.

It's a crying shame you didn't fight this out with Cadillac earlier. If you first reported it while under warranty and have the work orders, they do still have some obligation. If you don't have the paperwork, maybe something would still show in a VIN report. (See the VIN Check thread over in the CTS-V forum). A polite and persistent inquiry with the right people might garner some support from Cadillac. Worst case you don't lose anything.

bierman.d
05-26-09, 11:41 PM
The sD ordeal did cross my mind. The display does change, however it does not act any different. However, the fact that the transmission ever started acting up (forcing me to use autostick) just says to me that the car was destined to make its owner cry in the future.

I agree, I wish the issue had been resolved while under warranty.
Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one who drove the car at the time, and the miles racked up so fast, it was hard for me to control. Then again, the car was still very new back then, so they may not have even been ready to tackle such a problem.
On the other hand, when it first started happening (very lightly), we took it in and had them check to see what could be wrong. They cleaned the injectors and when that didn't solve a single thing, we had a look online and found the real problem. So you are saying that with proof of complaint, Cadillac may still have some obligation to help me determine the cause of issue? I'll try and have a look at the VIN checkup in the mean time.

By the way, I had a brief look at the ECM tuners and while I may use it as a last resort if nothing else falls through, I'm thinking that unless it completely changes the entire shifting algorithm, the problem will remain..

Oh, how I wish Cadillac would have just issued a recall!

EChas3
05-27-09, 11:43 AM
I bought a Buick Roadmaster new. It had a difficult to duplicate A/C problem. Since I had reported the issue (& brought it in several times) while under warranty, GM was still on the hook. I had moved & found another dealer willing to admit that the problem was behind the dash. They fixed it under warranty, even though the car then had 60k miles & the warranty had expired.

bierman.d
05-27-09, 01:21 PM
Do you think they would commit to a 100,000+ mile vehicle when the standard warranty was only 36k?
Plus, I don't know if we really hammered out the issue and forced GM to take control of it. If I was confident they could fix the issue, I would put money into it without coverage. However I don't have much faith in this. I get the impression that my dealer isn't really determined to spend time helping me. I am disappointed in their general attitude towards customers.

I didn't bother asking for a VIN read since I am not a supporting member, but I keep almost all of my important paperwork in a file cabinet in storage so maybe I can find stuff there. If I can, I will see what my dealer can do.

On the other hand, the guy I was talking to replied that it was only around 2,000 miles after replacing the clutches that the problem started to reappear. This really has my hopes down and I think I should probably start looking into selling the car.

EChas3
05-28-09, 09:58 PM
I'd be concerned about getting what it's worth with the transmission issue you describe.

Good luck whatever you decide.

bierman.d
06-03-09, 06:02 PM
Hey.

So the past few days, I've been looking forward to getting the car out of my hair.
But as expected, I'm having a change of heart.
This morning at about 5:00am, I jumped in the car and remembered all of the good times I've had in the car.. all of the smiles it brought me. I started it up and fell in love with the car again in the way that it drove. It had a good day today, something that it hasn't had for quite a while.
Anyways, after getting back home, I decided I really do want to keep the car.
A couple things crossed my mind though:
The RWD V8s did not have this problem. And as I have confidently concluded, the problem lies within the torque converter whether it be a programming issue or a faulty clutch. I ran through the basic functions of an automatic transmission and I'm wondering, how different can the RWD be? Would it be stupid to think about putting in one from a RWD car, or even just have it programmed as if it were a RWD?
But if the TC is literally no different and the programming is consistent, that would say that somewhere along the line, the AWD system is f'ed up. I'm sure it's more work than I can make it out to be right now, but would it be possible to convert my AWD to a RWD? The STS being a North-South engine, the driveshaft obviously applies to the RWD, rip out the frontals and tinker the computer.. problem solved? Considering how low my car sits and how wide the tires are, the car fails to get around well in the winter which as my mother/father has proven with their Mustang SVT Cobra, winter tires do wonders even for a fat-tired, low rwd sports car. I'm going to be ordering a set of General Summer tires soon anyways along with a set of new rims. I'm pretty confident I could get around in winter just fine.

Either way, I plan to pursue to the death the solving of this problem. I may end up going to my 3rd party mechanic and ask what he thinks of the situation, possibly in conjunction with a Cadillac dealer that is willing to cooperate with the programmings and stuff. I'm feeling willing to put some money into this to have my Cadillac back.

I don't know if what I said is making any sense to you.. I've been up for 30 hours straight and I'm ready to collapse (it's been a very long day for me). Just if you (or anyone) have any thoughts, comment. Maybe my thinking is out of whack and I don't see it yet..

EChas3
06-03-09, 07:49 PM
Replace the transmission with a recycler's (junkyard unit) or rebuilt unit.

English is not a rational language. It is a rationalizing language. As your first language (am I right?) you're thinking in it.

Touch twice life. Laugh. Drink. Have fun!

bierman.d
06-04-09, 12:22 PM
I think I'll look into cheaper alternatives first ;)
I revisited the ECM/TCM idea and it looks like the 2005 models aren't supported. I stumbled on to reading that 2005s have a different computer (as opposed to just programming like I assumed) from that of mid2006+ so maybe I could look into updating internals somehow.

Also a quick question:
I am thinking of doing a seafoam treatment, my oil life is at 38% so soon would be a good time to do it. Any experience (should I do it?)?

hyperboimmv
07-23-09, 07:59 AM
What happens if you unplug the battery, let it sit for a while, plug the battery in and drive?

themightymezzo
07-23-09, 10:08 AM
In its most basic form, my question is as follows:
To those of you who have experience with said transmission issue, if I were to replace my torque converter and have it reprogrammed one last time, would I ever encounter this programming problem again? I am prone to believe it would since the problem has happened again. But if someone can prove to me otherwise, I will obviously keep the car.


From my experience with the issue you will continually have problems with the TC. I have been through several "fixes" on my 05 and after so many hundred/thousand miles it always comes back. Next time I bring it in I'm going to tell them to look for something else. Either something is screwing up the TC or the thing is a complete hunk of sh*t. If that's the case I'll keep hitting them with it under my warranty and they can just keep fixing it.

If mine wasn't under warranty I'd either try to live with it or trade the car in and get something else. I love it to death but I couldn't deal with it or deal with having to continually pay for "attempted" fixes.

Good luck.