1985 Toyota Pickup 4 speed auto trans shift problems

Tiny
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  • MEMBER
  • 1985 TOYOTA PICKUP
  • 206,000 MILES
Won't shift up until warm. Won't shift to first after having stopped. Changed fluid 3 times in 6500 miles, including filter on last change. New carb caused idle up and strain at stop. Several times tranny clunked in gear after having gone to neutral to avoid strain. Tranny was shifting perfectly after second change, then went to the cold shift problem. Noted dirty fluid and changed. The truck sat for 3 yrs previous to the last 6500 miles. Installed a new carb after having failed to dial in 1 manual trans stock and 1 32-36 weber before buying a new 38 mm. The head is new. The cam was replaced with a 20r performance due to flattening the new cam diagnosing a bad fuel pump. These don't lubricate in a non run condition, turns out running it on prime won't work either. I'm thinking about clearing the computer of possible fault codes, in case the ecu is factoring in. I believe this is a nonelectronic, so it may be unrelated. Perhaps the coolant sensor being mounted near the thermostat is related. It only engages low gear manually, even after warm up, otherwise shifts well. Cold operation will shift only at very high rpm. Thanks for your input.
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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 AT 11:04 AM

2 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I suspect this may be due to varnish buildup in the valve body related to sitting for a few years. I had a similar failure to down-shift and delayed up-shift on my '88 Grand Caravan about eight years ago. I drove that van for many years without ever hitting wide-open-throttle, so varnish was able to build up in the parts of the valve bores where the valves never went. When I finally did one night, that's when the problems started, and the shifting always improved when the transmission warmed up. The problem lasted for about two months and I didn't do anything to it except drive it. Every day it was less noticeable. I even drag around a tandem axle enclosed trailer that's bigger than the van, and the shifting has been fine. Even with that I rarely exceed three quarter throttle.

There's two valves in particular that are involved with shifting at the wrong times. Those are the throttle valve and the governor. The governor valve is spring-loaded to come back to rest when vehicle speed is 0 mph. If that valve sticks just a little, the shift valves will think the car is still moving and they should be in second gear. They won't go into first gear unless you manually put the shift lever there.

I don't know if your throttle valve is spring-loaded. Mine is. That night when I finally hit wide-open-throttle, that valve got pushed to where it hadn't been for years and got stuck in that varnish. That makes the shift valves think you're accelerating harder than you really are, so it moves the shift points to higher speeds.

There are chemicals, ("mechanic-in-a-can"), that will dissolve that varnish. In my case, the transmission fluid and filter has only been replaced once, at 85,000 miles, since the van was new. It has 248,000 miles now. That fluid still looks good but it's surely turning to varnish. By the way, that isn't neglect, ... It's abuse, and I'm not recommending ignoring proper maintenance for anyone. I don't care to tell you when I changed oil last, but I still try to replace the filter once every two or three years!

I didn't need any chemical additives to solve my problem, and I don't use them for other people. You'll have to rely on the people selling parts to recommend what other mechanics have had good luck with. I don't think a simple fluid and filter change will help. That won't address the varnish buildup. A lot of people will recommend a complete flush that includes adding a can of very aggressive detergent first, but some car owners have been unhappy with the results. They blame all their future transmission problems on that flush. I have to wonder how many of those people already had an existing problem and they had unrealistic expectations the flush would magically solve a mechanical problem.
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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 AT 12:14 AM
Tiny
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Ok.I'll try that. I left the fluid level down a bit, so there will be room for an additive. Its only about a pint low. So that should not be much of an issue. Thank you for your input.I do appreciate the advice.
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Wednesday, October 9th, 2013 AT 10:44 AM

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