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Old 02-18-2013, 02:05 AM   #1
distroy3d
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Automatic Grinding in First Gear

Hey guys. I got a 2001 ZTS automatic and the other day my transmission started making this weird grinding noise.

I drove it all day and had no problems. Then on my way home from the subway after visiting the auto show, I was slowing down coming into an intersection to turn left and it sort of jerked as it downshifted into first and started making a grinding sound until I came to a full stop. Then when I let off the gas to roll forward a bit it felt like the normal engine speed produced when you let off the gas wasn't there. It didn't move forward at all. So I gave it some gas and it kinda jerked a bit and made the grinding sound again until I came to a full stop. When I got to the parking lot I was turning into, I parked it and when I put it to park it jerked a bit and when I turned off the car it jerked a bit. Then on my drive home it was grinding every time it was in first gear. I parked it for the time being until I can get it to the mechanic but I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on what it could be? I texted a buddy and he said it's possible it's just low on tranny fluid?

-It grinds when it's MOVING in first gear. When I'm stopped/idling at a light it doesn't grind
-Once it shifts out of first it stops grinding (no grind in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, R)
-It grinds again when I'm slowing down and the car downshifts from 2nd to 1st
-It jerks a bit when I put it in park and turn it off
-It feels like there is a loss of engine speed when I let off the break from a stop
-It jerks a bit when I give it some gas from a start

Any help/info before I bring it to the mechanic would be helpful. I assume there's a problem with 1st gear but I'm hoping it's not something expensive like that. Any idea what a typical transmission repair costs?


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Old 02-18-2013, 09:00 AM   #2
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Have you checked the fluid? Could be low, or it might need a flush.

If the fluid smells burned or feels gritty - flush it. A normal tranny flush will cost between $100 - $150, just make sure they drop the pan and clean the magnet, sometimes they don't do that.

A tranny re-build could cost up to $1,000.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:21 AM   #3
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Its toast. It is EXACTLY what mine did. I dropped the pan, and there was metal shavings all over. I paid $2400 for a remanufactured trans with a 5 year, 75K warranty. My spider gears went out and after the second time it grinded (like your symptoms), it basically exploded all over. I basically have a new transmission now from Certified Transmission.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:26 AM   #4
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Good excuse to swap in a manual...
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Old 02-19-2013, 12:18 AM   #5
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Well I tested the "tranny fluid might be low" theory. I went out to Walmart and bought the Castrol Import ATF because that's the only one that said Mercon V on it, which is what the owners manual said to put in. Went home and checked the fluid level. It was at he minimum on the stick. So we kept adding little by little until it got to the maximum. I think it was a 1 quart bottle and we put about half the bottle in so half a quart. Drove it around the parking lot a few times. Sounded even worse! It started making the sound in 2nd gear too now. But it was less of a grinding sound and more of a whining sound now. So I said "ef this, might as well take it up to my mechanic and just leave it there so he can look at it first thing in the morning when he gets to the shop."

So I take it to the shop and the whole drive I'm taking off from stops in 2 instead if D and putting it in N as I brake to keep it out of first gear as much as possible. As I maneuver through the twisty parking lot I leave it in D and notice the sound has died down a lot. So I drove it around the block a few times and the sound is significantly lower now than it was before. So I decided instead of being stranded for the night, might as well keep the car and bring it to the shop tomorrow when I wake up.

So as it stands now, after topping up the tranny fluid the grinding sound has turned to a whining sound and is significantly less noticeable than before. Still something wrong though :(
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:59 AM   #6
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This is a good reason to at least check your vehicles once a month if not once a week. All you had to do in order to keep this problem from happening was regular checks. Leave the engine running, grab a rag hidden under the hood somewhere, pull out the transmission dipstick, and check it running and hot once a week. It will be good forever, but when that leak does happen, you'll know immediately, and you'll be able to prevent the damage that occurred. Either that or the cost of a new transmission every few years- the choice is yours.

The same thing goes for oil. Eventually, a car will leak or burn oil. If you check it regularly, you'll know when the slightest leak happens, and prevent damage from it. A professional driver checks oil before driving off in the car. I think weekly is ok until a leak is detected over a week, then daily.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:19 PM   #7
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Last edited by amc49; 02-20-2013 at 07:44 AM.
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