Car feels like its in neutral

Posted by marax, Mar 3, 2005
Newbie Forum - Beginner DSM modification questions and discussions. Common, repetitive, and general discussions will get dumped here from other tech forums. Unless you're a Probationary member you shouldn't post threads here.

  1. marax

    marax Proven Member

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    tucson, Arizona
    Hey everyone,

    Long time reader, first time poster. I am driving a 1997 eclipse spyder turbo FWD. I've had it for about 4 years now, no mod, I like to keep it stock. Its been great until now, when i'm driving the car and almost hitting 40mph it would suddenly feel like the whole car is in neutral. The RPM would go up but the Speed would go down, if I let the speed go all the way down past 10mph and then step on the gas again it would be fine until it hit about 35mph, then the whole thing would happen again. Any suggestions on what is going on?

    Thanks in Advance

    Tom
     
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  2. huafist

    huafist Proven Member

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    Your clutch is shot. If it's an auto, it sounds like the torque converter.
     
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  3. marax

    marax Proven Member

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    tucson, Arizona

    Man....I was hoping it wouldn't be the TC, Can you guys/gals give me an estimate of how much it would cost to get it fix?

    Thanks again

    Tom
     
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  4. huafist

    huafist Proven Member

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    Search DSMTrader and the classifieds here - you may be able to find one at a reasonable price.
    Perhaps some of the auto tranny gurus have something to add to this thread?
     
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  5. GTM

    GTM Proven Member

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    Are we to guess that TC stands for torque converter?

    No professional in their right mind would make a blanket statement based on the information you provided without asking questions.

    It could be just as simple as being low on oil. Most makers tell you to get the car up to proper temp and on level ground with the hand brake set. Then place the shift lever in park or neutral with the engine running you pull out the tranny dipstick and check the level. Wipe it off and check again, hold it horizontal and twist so you can be sure where the mark is, check again if needed. If low use the reccomended type sometimes stamped on dipstick 1/2 quart at a time. Then put in all gears for a couple seconds each gear, this will fill all passages and clutch packs, return to neutral or park and check again. Add more oile if necessary.

    When you check the first time smell the oil, it may have a decidely burnt smell, it may be brown in color and you may see tiny particles including metal flakes.

    Next consult with a specialist and ask if the clutch packs and/or bands can be adjusted. There may be auto tranny specialists here on DSMtuners that can answer for I'm not a DSM expert for some autos can and some cannot. Yes it could be a torque converter but when they fail the car may go nowhere, and they can make strange noises. The fact you can reach 40mph suggests it's not the converter but it's not an absolute.

    There is another easy test which can be performed but I'll wait till you have checked the oil and report back.

    Cheers,
    GTM
     
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  6. marax

    marax Proven Member

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    tucson, Arizona

    I did all of that today but the same events happen. Let me see if i can try and be more clear about what is going on. It seems as if it doesnt matter what speed I am going, sometimes it would hit at 20, 30 or 40. As I am about to hit those speeds, the car feels as if its in neutral, the RPM continues to climb but none of that power is hitting the wheels. The car itself feels like its in neutral, theres no sputtering or shock or anything. Its as if the car decided to suddenly drop itself into neutral. Hope that is a bit clearly then before, any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

    Tom

    ps The oil was okay, not clear but a brownish color. There was no burnt smell or particles of metal in it.
     
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  7. GTM

    GTM Proven Member

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    It was clear thank you. Brown is usually not good and could be the sign of overheated oil. You might be able to feel that it's no longer slippery but would need something to compare it with.

    Here is your last shot (maybe) With the engine at operating temp you set the hand brake, you place your left foot firmly on the brake, and place in Drive gear. You push fully down on the throttle for no more than 5 seconds and the engine RPM should not excede 3,000. Some makers may use a lower number, if it looks like it's going to go higher then stop the test and put in neutral. If it does keep it under the 3,000 RPM then your clutch packs _may_ be good and you have another problem. No matter what put the car in neutral and let it idle for 1-3 minutes so the oil can cool off. You can repeat the test just make sure you give it adequate time to cool between each test. This is called a "stall test" and is a quick way of determining problems or if more diagnosis is needed such as attaching pressue gauges to actually see what is not behaving correctly. I don't usually describe the test because there are dangers that something can break but because it's faulty from age or wear.

    If it fails you know that you will at least need some of the clutch packs. If you know what a motorcycle clutch looks like they are similar in design with giant flatwasher and then the clutch disks. Each pack can have 5-9 of these sets, and you can 2-4 packs.

    So armed with that info you can call around and ask for prices for replacing clutch packs. You can have other problems including bearings, gears, hubs, and the pack housings.

    It may be another problem caused by an eletrical fault, a vacuum hose, shift lever but I just don't know this tranny well enought to give specifics

    Knock wood or any other incantation before you start. Be careful and don't let the car creep forward. If you know where your engine mounts are take good look to make sure they are not broken. Other than mounts usually nothing fails but I just have to advise you.

    Let me know how the test goes.

    Cheers,
    GTM
     
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  8. marax

    marax Proven Member

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    Well, just to let everyone know. It turned out that my overdrive was dead. I do have one question tho. The mechanic told me that since my overdrive was dead, they would have to do a whole engine rebuid, and then gave me a long list of reaons why they had to do so. I was wondering if this is true?

    Tom
     
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  9. GTM

    GTM Proven Member

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    Nothing is computing. My gut reaction is to tow or drive it out of there saying it's going home until you can come up with the money. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip.

    I sure would like to hear the rational behind that diagnosis since you had made no mention other than to indicate a loss of power at certain speeds.

    With the car out of thier control you can take it to other shops or even get on the phone and call asking if abc happens will it cause xyz to also happen. Get a second opinion, maybe a third.

    I've had customers bring a car in for a clutch job which it needed but also needed a valve job because it was running on 3 cylrs. Nothing was said by the customer or the service advisor, it did not come as a surprise to the customer but it sure was to the service advisor.

    That's my take on the current situation.

    Let us know some more details and what you decide to to.

    Cheers,
    GTM
     
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  10. 98autogstspyder

    98autogstspyder Awaiting Email Verification

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    92 Talon Tsi AWD, Florida
    The correct way to check the fluid in these trannys is to be sure that the car is up to operating temp, shift through all the gears; L,2,D etc, put it in neutral on a level surface, engage the parking break and then check the fluid.

    but about the overdrive, it is easy to get to. Take off the passenger side front wheel, drain a few quarts of fluid, and the overdrive shield is right there. This should not take anymore than an hour of labor and i think that they are trying to take advantage of you. I would call John at IPT transmissions or p.m. him. He is a genious when it comes to these trannys. His name on here is transdude. You can go to the automatic tranny forums and post in there as well if you like. just curious, what is the mileage on your transmission? Have you ever changed the fluid in it?

    but a question to GTM, doing the break torquing test..... what are you supposed to look for to see if something is out of the ordinary? Im confused about that.

    Goodluck Tom :thumb:
     
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  11. GTM

    GTM Proven Member

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    Had me going there for a few moments. The car has brakes which can break. or Brake is a noun and break is a verb. Not picking on you for you can find that mistake 50 times a day here or is it hear... English is crazy but it's important when trying to communicate.

    It may have other names but I've only known it as a "transmission stall test". It doesn't cause the engine to "stall" as in stop running like turning the key off. Perhaps you know what happens to an airplane when it stalls, the engine is running, the propeller is pushing air but because the plane can't climb at that angle it will slow to the point of falling.

    In our case the torque converter and the pump are trying to transmit power to the gears which can't turn because the brakes are applied. In normal cars the size of the torque converter is matched to the engine HP, and the pump which supplies oil under high pressure cannot overcome the brakes. The engine can't develop enough HP / torque so it reaches a point of not being able to go any faster so that is it's stall point. It varies from one maker to another but usually is in the 2,000-3,000 rpm. And just like a manual operated clutch it/they can slip when excessively worn. If they slip then the engine RPM will go up but the car is not moving so it failed the stall test.

    Again depending on maker those pump pressures can be set to pop off a relief valve at any place between 485-800 pis. This is very hard on parts and the auto tranmission oil which will quickly overheat when it can't go anyplace. Consider if you are making 50 HP all that energy is turned into heat in the oil because it's not doing any work. As I stated before things can break if they are worn or damaged, it is a valid test used when slipping clutch packs are suspected. I tossed out some conservative numbers but the intent was so somebody reading this who can't count very well endangers what was a good tranny and burned it up by overheating.

    I am not an auto tranny specialist, I've probably done more than my share as a professional but many shops have a specialist who does them all day long. That's why they have specialty shops which only deal with auto tranny problems.

    You can ask the autotranny member about specifics and a search in the autotranny forum may have already discussed this test. It would be rare for a DIY to own a manifold set or pressure gauges which can look like air conditioning gauges exept the numbers and the hoses are for high pressure. It still is possible for a DIY to replace clutch packs and bands and a few other wear parts but you must be very methodical about your work for there are 10 times the number of parts.

    Cheers,
    GTM
     
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