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Old 12-27-2014, 03:52 PM   #1
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auto pinion whine...backlash off?

My 03 ZX3 has had some pinion whine since I bought it at 104K....noticed mostly when I lift off the pedal and am coasting down at certain speeds....when car is mostly still in top gear I'd guess.

Car now has 133K on it. Auto trans which has had the fluid flushed ...new filter...synth ATF plus Lubegard 28K ago. 2nd time recently just the pan was off (no flush)...new filter...new synth and Lubegard.

I doubt if I'll mess with it...since I can live with it. Hardly noticable when driving under slight load.

Wondering how common this is with the 03....what's the prognosis? Want to get to 160K.


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Old 12-27-2014, 05:46 PM   #2
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I don't know much about auto transmissions, but my manual did the same thing. I would guess it has to do with a warn out bearing or planetary gears. Is it only in 4th? Auto transmissions in these cars aren't known for their resilience or reliability. But there a lot of guys on the forum with more than 160k on the original trans with little problems.
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Old 12-27-2014, 06:15 PM   #3
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Being a "sidewinder" with all the shafts in a row, there isn't a "ring & pinion" type interface that needs exact adjustment to get the gears to mesh properly.

From what I've seen of the manual trans., the only adjustment is for bearing preload to keep the diff. from moving sideways as it goes from forward to reverse loads, I assume the auto is set up the same way.
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Old 12-27-2014, 06:17 PM   #4
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My gearbox makes all kinds of horrid sounds. I've learned to just deal with it. The ib5 is a sucky transmission anyway. I don't know about the auto though
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Old 12-28-2014, 07:33 AM   #5
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The ring and pinion noise...I've heard it before with other vehicles...is strictly more of an axle issue.

The pinion shaft bearings wear some so that endplay is greater...causing the ring and pinion not to mesh quite right...causing noise.

This noise was my main excuse for flushing in the synth AF and using Lubegard.

Otherwise the trans operates pretty well...no issues. I'll live with it and consider myself lucky if nothing worse happens over the next 30K....
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Old 12-28-2014, 06:23 PM   #6
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As you say, there's little you can do but live with it as long as it works OK.

I tried to describe earlier that the transmission doesn't have a ring & pinion gear like the axle in a RWD vehicle since the direction of rotation does not need to turn 90* as it does with an engine mounted front to rear.

Smaller gear in the transmission portion of the transaxle meshes sideways with the larger one on the differential and it's lateral location isn't critical.
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Old 12-28-2014, 08:08 PM   #7
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As said, there is no 90 degree drive to have a pinion anywhere in the trans. Most likely the final drive ratio which is several helical gears that all are preloaded between the case halves that later back off that to begin to whine as the gears deflect and tilt out of flat plane with each other. Normal up to a point in this trans, it showed up on my two at around 80-90K and gets steadily louder but not too bad yet. They'll run quite a bit more, it doesn't just blow up out of the blue, rather a slow wear type of thing. One of mine at 200K now so an idea there.

What would potentially be more of a problem would be if someone then goes into trans to re-preload the gears at a rebuild, they then are back flat to each other but then the oddball wear pattern set up by the cockeyed way they were before then makes it whine even louder after the rebuild. I learned on a Tempo after that type of situation not to mess with redoing that preload unless you are forced to, nothing less than all brand new, flat and perfect gear teeth parts will work once that longterm wear has happened. One half of the tooth width has more wear than the other, no way are you evening that back up, the sideways load change as teeth cycle in and out of each other then makes the noise. It gets even more dramatic if you go in and change it up. BTDT...........
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