Yup. The first clue was you're asking about an entire system that has no affect on the symptom. The torque converter clutch is mainly built into the torque converter but there's a solenoid and valve too. Good luck getting the torque converter out without removing either the transmission or the engine because it's in between both of them. The second clue is you think you're going to "see" something by removing the pan. What did you see? Any easily-replaceable parts in there? The third clue is you somehow got the idea in your head that some single part is going to solve what is obviously a major problem, and you think you're being ripped off when someone tells you differently. Do you work for free? Doctors don't. Carpenters don't. Bakers don't. Only auto mechanics are expected to work for next to nothing. How did you even arrive at this system as the cause of your misery, and why do you think it's a single part?
We hate high repair bills as much as you do, but sometimes you have to know when you're in WAY over your head, and when you don't recognize that, the most conscientious thing we can do is tell you that before you waste more money needlessly and / or damage something that will end up costing you even more money. That will be YOUR fault, not ours, and once we tell you that you're on the wrong track, YOU alone will be responsible for how much the repairs cost and how much money you waste before you take it to an expert. Don't be angry with us that you aren't a transmission expert. I'll bet you go to the doctor when necessary. I'll bet you know when to call a plumber or the fire department. You're paying for their expertise. Well, it's time to call the expert for your car. Even if there was some "single part" that you think is going to magically fix everything, who are you going to be angry with when it doesn't solve the problem?
ASEMaster6371 is right about the clutch packs. There are multiple clutches that are applied in various combinations to achieve the different gears. The friction plates could be worn down. At 196,000 miles that can be expected on any car. Given the age, the rubber lip seals could also be hardened and brittle, and when they crack or shatter, fluid leaks out instead of applying pressure to squeeze the clutch plates together. Some transmissions also still have bands to prevent parts from rotating to create the reverse gear. One of those bands could be broken. I've run into that twice. If the clutch plates or lip seals are the problem, no specialist in his right mind is going to just repair that one clutch pack. That requires removing the transmission from the car, then disassembling it on the bench. That will take at least six hours. The plates and seals in all the other clutch packs are going to be just as old and tired, so you know he's going to replace all of those parts too so you don't have more problems in the future. Transmission rebuilding kits come with all the plates, steels, seals, and gaskets to do the job right. And it's a miserable, stinky, slimy job. If there was some magic single part that would fix your car, you can be sure they would rather do a simple fast repair and get you back on the road, but with your attitude, I suspect most shop owners would just as soon point you to the door. If you automatically assume you're going to be ripped off, there is absolutely nothing anyone is going to do to please you, so why bother trying? We have too many grateful customers, (many who bring us donuts and homemade cookies), so we really don't need the business of whiners who need someone else to be mad at because their car broke.
Gee, can I be angry with my dentist because I had a really sore tooth? He charged me for a root canal and crown when I know all he had to do was plug the hole with something. What a ripoff!
Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 AT 10:14 AM