Possible transmission trouble
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  1. #1
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Possible transmission trouble

    Since over 2 years I was looking for a good deal on a brand new PS Pump as it was a bit noisier than normal and you can feel a tad of play in the shaft (with the belt off). Actually Jake told me 2 years ago that my PS Pump is a bit is noisy, thatís how I noticed.
    Well lately it was noisier and noisier (especially in the last 2-3 weeks). Took the belt off and span it by hand and I could feel other than the slight play, a bit of grabbing as it was spinning kind of like the shaft was splined.
    So I got a new PS pump, spent the Saturday struggling with the PS Pump pulley (I did not have the proper puller and press). Eventually I got it in (all this because the new pump came with no bracket and in order to install the bracket you need to take the pulley off.

    So Sunday went for a test drive/hardware store drive and I notice the whine is still there, well, is about 90% there. I was under the impression the whine happens as I pass over 2K RPN (when cold) and 3K RPM when hot. Well turns out the whine is during shifting, starts about 1 second before the shift and fades away about 1 second or so after the shift (total 2-3 seconds). The best description is a PS Pump whine (like steering held at full lock) maybe combined with a whispering hissing whistle.
    Is clearly engine speed related as if I release slightly the gas pedal in the moment is going to shift (like you will do as you press the clutch in a manual transmission) the noise is gone instantly.
    My first thought was ďtransmission fluid levelĒ, and unfortunately is fine, but as I was wiping the dipstick to check the level it kind of seem to me the fluid is a bit odd in color.
    Well I compared with the fluid from the 1q jug (extra jug after the fluid exchange I did 2 years ago or 45K Miles). Original fluid was red and I found absolutely ZERO derbies after 130K Miles. This is how the fluid looks now, I would say the fluid from transmission is more brown than red.

    This is the fluid I used.


    Now the noise is pretty noticeable with cold engine and transmission, fades away after the first 3-4 miles as the coolant temperature gets almost to normal operation value. The noise can be heard at any shift (up but not down) regardless of the gear. The transmission feels and behaves normal, but I think this is the calm before the storm. Is true, perhaps you need to be familiar with the car to hear it. The noise can not be pinpointed (not while driving) but you have the impression if coming from the right side. I would say that is because is coming trough the HVAC ducting and thatís about the place where is coming from.

    The plan is to get to a transmission shop for a professional opinion as I know very little about automatic transmissions, just have the general idea of how is working but not enough to think of a possible cause. I am just thinking the fluid pressure goes up during shifting and thatís why I have the noise but is just a wild guess.
    Unfortunately unless it sits for few good hours, is not going to make the noise, then I was planning to drop the pan and check for derbies and change the fluid. I know that changing the fluid wonít fix the mechanical failure, but I have to drop the pan anyway.

    Maeng9981ís thread keeps ringing in my earÖbummer!
    Any suggestions, opinions?

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  3. #2
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    I am starting to believe is not the transmission, maybe .
    Today I was revving the engine in park to about 4500 RPM and in the instance I release the throttle I can hear a high pitch fairly loud winding sound. Definitely is located in the front right side of the engine bay (ok that would be front left side of the actual engine considering the transversal placement) – nowhere near where the transmission would be. This lasts for the first 1K RPMs from 4500 RPM down as the RPM drop. That would be accessories belt area (AC, Alternator, Idler pulley, maybe tensioner pulley, but that is fairly new). My first guess would be the 4 years old Delphi A/C compressor pulley/clutch. I do have the normal wobble on the ballancer (since always because of the rubber thing) but I am sure that won’t cause that kind of noise.
    Yet why do I hear the noise even before the shift, just before the RPM is about to drop? Why does the whine is gone once it gets warm (yet the 4500PRM drop to idle whine is there even with engine warm).
    I will definitely drop the pan over the weekend to check the magnets and filters.
    I will start first with the accessories belt removed and the same 4500 RPM to idle in park RPM drop test.

  4. #3
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    This afternoon I dropped the transmission pan, I managed not to do much mess (started with a corner first). This was an exploratory surgery to see whatís what, my fluid was exactly 2 years and 1 month old or 45K miles.
    Well this is what I found:

    There are debris in the pan and in the bent screen, the straight screen was clean though. The debris in the filter were fine clutch material, while in the pan I had the bigger metallic and probably also some larger clutch material pieces, by large I mean kind of the stuff you get after filing something.
    Here is a detail of the pan debris, notice the shiny metalic ones I highlighted blue and the rest is the brown stuff.

    The above detail shows about 70% of the debris I found.
    The magnet was pretty clean, at least there were NO metal debris on it, this makes me believe the metallic debris are aluminum (or the magnet is no longer a magnet), it only had fine clutch material on it like the screen.

    At least the fluid was quite red, definitely more on the red side than brown (nothing like what the paper towel test looked like).
    Well to be honest I have never seen an open tranny with debris in it, last time I did my fluid was bright red and I had absolutely ZERO debris. On the other had last time I did the job, I dropped the pan pretty quick so if there were debris, most were washed away with the fluid. So I have mixed results, not sure what to tell, I donít like what I found but I am not an expert. I keep seeing being mentioned that is normal to find debris in the pan and magnet, and some could clog the passages. I mean, that must be some huge amount of crap flowing around to do so.

    This is how the pan and filters looked like before installing.

    I did the proper torque and in the proper sequence. I took the car for a test drive and first few shifts were super quiet. I started getting on it and I can still hear some whine (I have to really, really pay attention). I havenít done the no accessories belt test drive yet. That would be tomorrow.

    Anybody expert, or at least knowledgeable in transmissions?
    Please feel free to express your opinion, for me this was not conclusive.

  5. #4
    sts 03's Avatar
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    I'm no tranny expert but I heard the same that fine shavings are not to worry about and chunks of metal/clutch then may be a cause for concern.I wish someone with more knowledge would chime in as much as you help others.are you positive the wine is coming from the tranny?

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    95STS is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    Quote Originally Posted by N*Caddy View Post
    Please feel free to express your opinion, for me this was not conclusive.
    Check the alternator - bad bearings make a whine - louder at certain rpm's than others.

    Although it's only a possibility, my (no longer owned) 95 sts was misdiagnosed by 2 supposedly smart people.
    A repair shop said "it sounds like it's coming from the trans", so I went to a trans shop.
    And a Trans shop said "We can't tell - we will have to remove the transmission to find out"

    I ran away from both of them as soon as I could, and found the noise with an old fashioned method of placing a very long screwdriver against different parts in the engine bay and putting the other end against my ear.

    The alternator bearing whine (bad diagnosis of trans issue) coupled with oil getting into the radiator (bad diagnosis of blown a headgasket!!) caused me to park the car for a year until I got a chance to sort it out myself.

    A new alternator fixed the trans and a new radiator fixed the oil in the water

  7. #6
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    Unfortunately it only does the whine while driving (when shifting gears, or better said when there is a RPM/engine load change).
    So the screwdriver thing doesn't help.
    I was planning yesterday to remove the accessories belt and drive it around the block to see if is that or not, however yesterday I left early in the morning for a 2h thing (family related) and turned out that I got home past 10 PM. So the whole day was gone.
    Today is work (since 5:00 AM they wake me up). I can't do anything until Friday my 9 to 5 is the whole day...

  8. #7
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    This sounds quite different than what I've experienced. I believe that's accepted amount of debris also. Significantly less than what I've found in my transmission.

    Driving without accessory belt will tell, if it still happens, then it's ... the transmission.

    Mine had debris and silicone fluid goo around the oil pump inlet/outlet and inside of the oil pump which I believe caused the whine.

  9. #8
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    Just drove it around the block with the accessories belt removed and yeah, the sound is still there so is the transmission.
    It does it in the first 5 minutes until the engine up to temperature, after that no more noise.

    As a side note, I did felt the engine running "happier" with no accessories drag, is like after a tune-up.

  10. #9
    naif is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    And the arms of steel ...

    When cold (near freezing), I would get a vaguely electric motor sound from the transmission during the shifts.

    One overlooked things could be the chain drive in the side case - hard to inspect but...maybe??

  11. #10
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    The noise inside the car with windows closed sounds like an electrical motor/power steering pump whine (like when you have the steering full lock but not too loud)/cymbals (after you hit it as is dying down). Mix these 3 sounds and that’s what I hear from the cabin right in between the shifts (1 second before and 1-2 seconds after). And is clearly on the right side (like in the glove compartment), because it propagates trough the HVAC ducts). It does have to be quiet around to hear it (like if there is traffic around I don’t hear it).
    Windows open, again quiet around the car, the sound I hear is power steering pump whine (but is not that).
    This only happens when in the first 5-10 minutes until the engine gets warm, after that not one single sound, the car has to seat at least 5-6 hours to hear it again.

    If I mimic shifting a manual transmission slowly releasing the gas during the shift, the noise is gone instantly, if I go on gas in the first second after the shift I still hear it (like the last part of it dying down).
    I see in the future that tranny going down, I guess I need that motivation to do the bottom end gaskets.

  12. #11
    barrylee is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    sounds like a clutch issue to me but i am far from knowledgable when it comes to tranny.

  13. #12
    ben.gators is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    I am no transmission expert, just two my cents.... Not very likely, but do you have ruled out the possibility of a bad hub bearing? A few months ago there was a whining noise from front right corner and the noise level was proportional to engine RPM. It was a bad hub bearing!

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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    Sounds like a noisey trans to me, I'd let it warm up a bit before driving and see if it still does it. If it drops in noise then not a hub more than likely. You could switch to a different brand or even syn trans fluid to see if it quiets it down even.
    That pan looks very good for an auto BTW. Chunks and alot of material if what you don't want to see.

  15. #14
    ponyboyt is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    N* you know ive seen a few bad tranny's up here. My 97 totaly went at 370,000 km. Ive got 2 others that are on their way out. My white 99 is still perfect, very hard 1-2 shift when in 2. And thats how i test them. Stick it in 2 and let her rip, full throttle max RPM shift 1-2. You may know then if its bad or not, or it may explode into peices

    Also, i still have that 98 trans with 120,000 km on it.

    On another note, i think you should give me a call soon. I got a package delivered on Friday.

    97 control arm.JPG

  16. #15
    N*Caddy's Avatar
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    Re: Possible transmission trouble

    I had the car over the weekend at the transmission shop (highly rated).
    I had to drop the car Friday night and have it tested Saturday morning as it only does the noise while cold. If I would drive it to the shop for the test, by the time I get there is all is fine.
    The transmission guy said is not transmission related.
    Honestly I don't care how much experience it has on it, I know better that is indeed the transmission.
    He said is for sure some pump starvation noise (and that I agree, is hydraulic noise not grinding/rubbing), yet he insisted is the PS.
    I mentioned I had new pump installed weeks ago, the system was bled, I ran the car with no accessories belt and the noise is still there.
    Well hi did not charged anything for the test and at least to be polite I purchase from the shop 1q of "super good" Rotella PS fluid that "for sure will fix my PS noise issue". I have fresh AcDelco fluid and I know better is NOT PS, no point wasting time changing brand new PS fluid.
    I did noticed one thing, the noise is not only when shifting, the noise is also heard in park if I rev the engine >2000 RPM and I let it settle down to idle (while the RPM are dropping) and ONLY if I do it within the first 2 minutes or so after I start the engine (I don’t rev the engine cold so this why took so long to notice). Also if I rev the engine once will do the noise, second time almost no more (or if I REV it to 3000 RPM) and third time won't do it at all. Yet even in these conditions will still make the noise during shifting until gets warm. While shifting if I release/ease off the gas pedal the noise is gone, also if I do the opposite the noise will last a bit longer (and is a bit louder). Clearly is engine speed related. If it was a manual car I would say it does it as long as you have the clutch down to shift, is exactly like that.
    I can tell the noise it gets louder and it takes longer drive to disappear, definitely I will be at the shop soon.
    It surely sounds like is coming from the right (front) side of the engine (accessories belt area) yet again it does it with the belt removed.

    I was thinking at the chains or chain tensioners, but why only when shifting, it is affected by the engine speed but not in a pattern I would expect something mechanical directly coupled to the engine would do it.

    I am frustrated on my lack of knowledge in this field.

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