Automatic transmission problems


Pease

New member
Thanks for the advice. I have one further question. Why doesn't the Bentley include the maintenance of the breather/vent on the top of the transmission? I live in Vermont and alot of crud and sand get's thrown up there and eventually blocked the breather. It seems that this should be a regular simple maintenance item. The guy at Meineke told me it is for them every 35k but there is nothing in any of the manuals about this simple task. The result as someone previously posted is that the oil filler pipe will throw back and out the fluid until you run dry and ruin the transmission.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The Bentley is the factory shop manual designed and written as a reference for mechanics with normal tools and a reasonable degree of training. As a result, it leaves many step-by-step instructions out and some that are very regional or specific use oriented that do not apply to the majority of vehicles. I'm sure most mechanics would consider keeping breathers clean & operable a routine part of any maintenance not needing a special notice or instructions.

There is a book, tongue-in-cheek titled How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot. It includes a lot more step-by-step for amateurs, but reviews are mixed. It contains a number of errors and often leaves out technical details the more experienced mechanic needs. This site has chosen the offical Bentley as the required manual (Guideline #3) for consistency and overall superior accuracy and technical data over the aftermarket manuals. "Bentley" has its own topic in the SUPPLIERS forum.
 

westywannabee

New member
2nd gear piston cover

My auto trans was leaking fluid from the 2nd gear piston cover on my 88 westy. Having successfully replaced the seal on the governor cover I removed the 2nd gear piston cover and now I can not get the piston to retract which is neccessary to reinstall the cover. Does anyone know how to do this? As seen on the parts listing there is a spring under the piston that must be compressed to get the cover back on.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The A/T used in the Type II's was very similar to the Vanagons. In the out-of-print publication Repair Manual Type 2, they show in §37.70, Fig. 7, the installation of the 2nd gear brake piston that is missing from the Vanagon Bentley. The other details of that piston assembly appear to be identical in design so I would assume installation the same. The manual indicates use of VW special tool VW281a to press in against the springs. It appears to exert considerable force with its compound leverage.
 

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sketchysamurai

New member
automatic transmission shudder

hi mike and other van lovers.

my 1988 vanagon gl, auto tranny has started to shudder.
it does it reverse and also when i rev it up, take my foot off the gas, and the revs pass back down through the 2400 to 2000 range. this is parked or driving.
otherwise, no trouble. below and above, there's no shudder and it doesn't seem to be affecting power or driveability, it's just a rattle.
it doesn't happen when the revs are on their way up through that range.

i know this is a really general and broad question, but if i've been changing my fluids and loving the drivetrain to the best of my ability, what would cause this to happen?

the van has 263000 km on it. and it reeks of awesome. i would appreciate any input that may allow me head in a direction of repair.

thanks so much.

.jess.

[Moderator Note: VW's A/T troubleshooting chart (2 pages) is posted on the site's Tech Drawing page. It is from the Type II manual, but should apply to Vanagons as well.]
 
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sylviewesty

New member
2nd gear brake band piston

I too am having a great deal of trouble re-installing the 2nd gear brake band piston. I spoke with a tech who told me the special tool was not necessary, in fact doesn't really work, but it seems there is something amiss. I have tried compressing the spring in my bench vise using a mandrel, it only compresses a couple of millimeters before bottoming out. It needs to go in about 1/2" to locate the retaining clip...I have tried a pry bar, even a scissor jack, and can't seem to get the piston to go far enough into the transmission. Anyone have any hints? The manual is rather unhelpful in this respect. I am trying to do this job with the transmission still in the vehicle as the tech I spoke to said this was possible, told me to use a socket and a pry bar. Has anyone managed to do this job??
 

corkery

New member
The brake band piston is being hung up by the band itself. You have to drop the valve body and hold the end of the band in place with a screwdriver while you install the cover.
I know from experience. I did the same mistake.
 

sylviewesty

New member
Thanks, you're right. Unfortunately I had the thing in the shop by the time I got your response so it cost me $200 to find this out!
 

feathersjr

New member
Differential- Automatic Trans Clunk When Engaging

I have a 1990 with an Automatic, 128K. When I shift from park to drive, or drive to reverse, I get a single clunk. Like there is way to much slack in the differential. The trans shifts good with no issues. I also noticed when I'm on the freeway and I coast and then accelerate, I get the clunk again as it takes up the slack again.
I've checked my CV's and they seem to be good, so I'm pretty sure it is in the differential.
I noticed there is a plate on the bottom of the differential section, and wondered if I open that up, I might be able to resolve the issue, or just live with it until the transmission needs to be rebuilt:mad:
I see in the Bentley manual there are several shims and Thrust washers, but it does look challenging to disassemble while laying on my back:confused:
Any help would be appreciated:)
 
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esoder

New member
I took Ron Burgundy, our 1989 Westy, on a 1,240 mile round trip journey from Lake County to Coachella and back. He made it 1,151 miles and the tranny failed. We road the last 89 miles on a flatbed and he is sitting in the driveway. Incidentally - couldn't have asked for a more graceful failure - he coasted down the next offramp and right in to a gas station parking lot.

Fluid is fine, but no gears will engage. The engine just revs. Also, in park or in gear, he rolls freely. I think the tranny is done. But could it be anything else?

What are my options for replacing the 3 speed automatic? OEM or is there something else?

And is there anything else (aside from change the fuel lines) that I should do while I'm at it? I'm at 201,000 miles and the engine was rebuilt at 160,000. Body is in decent shape with only a few rust issues.

Posted first then started reading. Have the Bentley and will check A/T troubleshooting. I'll come back with more info.
 
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judzee

New member
Hi, I have a 1989 Westfalia I've owned for almost 10 yrs, automatic transmission, with 138K miles, that has never given me any major problems. Recently I was going up a steep hill and then lost power and lots of smoke appeared and stopped at side of road. Opened the engine compartment and there seemed to be a cover on the left side of transmission (driver side) had come off. This had spewed all the transmission fluid out. Towed the westy to my local mechanic (not a westy mechanic). Was unable to get the cover and bracket and O-ring from the VW dealership in the city since these parts were obsolete and not available. Mechanic reinstalled the former parts with an o-ring in his inventory, refilled the transmission fluids and test drove it. No leaks, all seemed fine. I then test drove it and it went thru all the gears just fine as it always had; but then the overheat led started blinking, altho I hadn't driven it long enough to actually cause an overheat. I checked the engine coolant level at the overflow in the rear and discovered that it was turning pink; indicating to me that the transmission fluid was now getting intermixed with the coolant. I have no Bentley manual (yet) I have now ordered one. I don't know where the mixing could be taking place... tranny fluid cooler? I Don't know where it is. But anyway, does anyone have an idea from this description as to what may be happening and what steps I may need to perform in order to get back into tip top shape?? I apologize to all in advance that are yelling at me for not having a Bentley. I do have lots of love for the Westy and for this forum and the people who run it. Thank you for any and all help that you may give me!
 

corkery

New member
auto tranny problems

From what you are describing, the tranny fluid is getting into the coolant via the auto-tranny cooler. It is located on the back of the transmission just tucked up behind the rear transmission mount. You'll recognize it by the 2 hoses running to it. It must have a internal leak between chambers. You need to deal with that ASAP as it can quickly wipe out your transmission if left unserviced. If you choose not to go with the OEM cooler, you can mount an external cooler if you get the right fittings for the transmission.
I would also flush and fill your cooling system when done with the tranny repair.

Good Luck

John
 

judzee

New member
John, Thank you for your advice, and for your luck. Dang sure do need it. It seems like everytime you make a little progress, something else pops up!
I will attempt to locate the tranny cooler and remove it in order to repair or replace it. Do you, or does anyone know if this particular component can be cleaned/repaired in order to get it back to operational status, or does it need to be replaced? I will ensure to flush and fill the cooling system when I get this problem repaired. I'm hoping it will be soon as I am planning to attend the Westys in Watkins Glen gathering in October.
Peace to you, and to all reading this.
 

corkery

New member
Tranny problem

Once the auto-tranny cooler has developed an internal leak it cannot be repaired. It has to be replaced either with a used or new OEM cooler. I believe Go westy has a good article on these coolers and the problems they can cause.
I think your best bet would be to locate a good used one.

John
 

gabebrown

New member
similar transmission issues

Hi,

I have a 1990 VW Vanagon automatic transmission. I bought it about 2 months ago so I don't know a lot about it's previous issues. It has a very recently rebuilt motor.

I have just started noticing some slipping in the transmission. When accelerating from 1st gear to 2nd I have to take my foot off the accelerator before it will shift, then I can put it back on. On the highway it seems as though it should be in a higher gear as the RPMs seem high. Maybe about 3700 - 3900 at 70 MPH.

I also get a bit of a thud when shifting from park into reverse.

I am going to take it to a Trany shop on Tuesday but want to see what kind of info I can get here before I take it in and have them tell me I need a new trany...

Thanks!
 

judzee

New member
Hi, yes I can relate to some of your issue. First of all my 89 Westy, automatic transmission also revs high (near 4000rpm) at 70 mph. As long as the tach needle stays in the green zone of your display, then you shouldn't worry about it. I've been reassured that this is normal. The tranny however was giving me some minor problems prior to this last major problem I encountered and I discovered that the tranny fluid was low and therefore not enabling the torque converter to function efficiently. If you check your tranny fluid level, you may discover that it may be low. If that doesn't help you, then I think you may need to talk to a specialist like you intend to. Good luck.
By the way, to anyone else who may be interested, I have found a transmission cooler out west in California at Airhead Auto Parts. It is being shipped to me this week and I'm hoping to get my westy back on the road in time to make the early October Westys in Watkins Glen event.
So good luck to me as well.
Best regards to all.
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acr

New member
How did you make out at the shop? I am hoping it wasn't expensive. We just purchased an 84 with problems shifting from 1st to 2nd. It seems to occur when going down slight hills more than on flat roads. It will never happen if we accelerate hard through the gears. From time to time we experience some chatter in reverse. Alan.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Insufficient information (Guideline #3)! What do you mean when you say "problems shifting from 1st to 2nd"? Do you mean it shifts bellow or above normal shift speeds? Is there a delay on upshift? Sticky shifts, engine races between.? Many of these are in the diagnostic chart in the Technical Drawings. There is an even more detailed one in Repair Manual Type 2, both of which are also applicable to Vanagons (same basic A/T), but your descirptions of symptons and no results of what has already been tested do not allow narrowing it down.
 
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thompson4907

New member
Hi did you get your diff clunk sorted? Mine does exactly as you describe clunking when you put into reverse. Any help on what the problem is and how to fix would be much appreciated.


Alan
 
Automatic Transmission Leaks

My '85 Westy (1.9L waterboxer) has developed (this season) a leak of transmission fluid. It appears not to leak on the road (no drips when making a rest stop) and it seldom leaks within an hour or two of parking. Recently, we took five days off and covered 1350Km with no noticeable loss of fluid. I parked it in the driveway and did not drive it the next day, nor did I notice any leak. It is parked over a piece of white cardboard.

On the second day after returning, I went out to find perhaps a quarter of a cup of transmission fluid on the cardboard.

Does this pattern of leaking suggest any particular problem, or should I just clean the tranny off and wait?

Thanks for any help.
 

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