1997 Plymouth Breeze Transmission Issue

Tiny
RHINOMAN7
  • MEMBER
  • 1997 PLYMOUTH BREEZE
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 115,000 MILES
1997 Plymouth Breeze, 2.0L, 115000 miles, just replaced the solenoid, torque converter, and rebuilt the transmission. It is leaking trans fluid, but I think it is because the front seal did not seat properly, so will need to drop tranny again and replace this. However, the transmission still seems to be having issues. It started by shifting a little funny, and now I think it is in Limp Mode. My son is in automotive school and rebuilt the tranny with some help, and his transmission teacher wants him to pull the codes (since the Check Engine light is on) so that he can give him advice on what needs to be done. Is there a way to pull the codes myself without a scan tool? I don't really want to drive it to the auto parts store to pull the codes and possibly make the tranny worse.

One other thing, I realize that there is a Quick-learn procedure that needs to be done since we did all this work on the tranny. Could the fact that we had not done this yet be the reason for the transmission not shifting properly, and maybe even why it is now in Limp Mode? My son's teacher seems to think there is something else wrong in the transmission, but I am thinking that it is simply a matter of getting the Quick-learn procedure done. (After the front seal is fixed, of course!)

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated!
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Thursday, January 14th, 2010 AT 9:17 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Lots of good information. Thank you. You do not have to do the quick learn procedure. The computer will relearn the clutch volumes when you drive it, typically over a couple of miles or a dozen shift cycles. Quick learn is done by dealership mechanics to eliminate the need to do a long test drive after the battery was disconnected. It prevents customers from coming back with a complaint about the shifting characteristics, and the incorrect belief the mechanic did something to screw up their car.

On '95 and older cars, you can cycle the ignition switch from off to run three times within five seconds, (do not hit the crank position), then count the flashes of the Check Engine light. There will be a series of flashes, then a slight pause. The next series of flashes is the second digit of the two-digit code. After a longer pause, the second set of flashes are for the next code. Disregard a code 12 if you get it; that just means the ignition switch was turned off. After all the codes are read, the last one will be code 55. That just means it's done. Cycling the ignition switch once more will repeat the series.

On '96 and newer cars, this doesn't usually work because of the OBD2 system. You might see the codes listed in the odometer, but I can't remember. They should be four-digit codes in your car. Chances are the codes aren't related to the transmission. The Check Engine light is only turned on when the detected problem adversely affects tail pipe emissions. There can be other codes that don't cause the Check Engine light to come on. "Running cold too long" is a real common one up here in WI because on real cold days, the engine won't get to normal operating temperature within six minutes.

There are some transmission-related codes that will show up when accessing the engine computer, but it is more likely he will have to retrieve the codes from the transmission computer. I use Chrysler's DRB3 hand-held computer. Some of the better aftermarket scanners will do it now too, but I'm not very familiar with them.

I applaud your son's teacher for allowing him to rebuild this transmission. My former coworker, in a community college, is currently teaching his students how to remove the transmission, how to load it into a pickup truck, how to haul it to a transmission shop, how to pay the bill, how to haul it back, and how to install it! The students are very angry about not being prepared to enter the workforce.

What is the name and city of the school your son is attending?

One more note. Limp-in causes the transmission to stay in second gear until the ignition switch is cycled off and the engine is restarted. If it starts out in first gear, then defaults to second gear immediately after an upshift occurs, it is due to slippage in one of the clutch packs. In rare instances, that can be due to that clutch pack requiring more fluid to apply it than was pre-programmed in at the factory. After a few cycles, the computer will relearn that volume and start applying that gear just a little sooner before it releases the previous gear. That will maintain the solid shift feel. Normally this happens on high mileage transmissions where the clutch plates are worn so far, the computer can't increase fluid volume enough to keep up. A trick to overcome this until you can get to the repair shop is to accelerate harder than normal, then let off the gas just when it's ready to upshift into the problem gear. That will remove the torque / load on the clutch pack so it doesn't slip while it is engaging. Once it's solidly in gear, you can drive like normal.

If the transmission goes into limp-in as soon as you put it into drive, and it starts out in second gear, suspect a problem has been detected with a sensor or its wiring. It's something that was detected before clutch slippage ever had a chance to occur. There are two sensors on some cars that use the same style plug. Putting the plugs on the wrong sensors will not make the computer happy.

Before he pulls the transmission again, he should read the "CVI", that's the clutch volume index. It's a set of four values corresponding to the number of ccs of fluid needed to apply each clutch. If one is unusually high, since there are new clutch plates in it, suspect a piston seal got ripped or flipped over during installation. This can be found by applying the clutch pack with compressed air during the rebuilding process. If the fluid leakage from the front slows down or is intermittent, it might be nothing more than overfilled fluid. If the level is too high, it will get air whipped up in it from the rotating parts. Air in the fluid compresses and can lead to clutches not applying properly, and foaming fluid could reach the vent hole behind the torque converter. As I recall, it takes nine quarts to fill a minivan transmission. I would expect your car to take about the same amount.

I'm sure he replaced the front seal, but if not, they can get hard and brittle from heat and age. They don't cause a problem until the engine and transmission are separated, then the weight of the torque converter hanging down can crack the hardened seal. It's good practice to always replace it when buying a used transmission from the salvage yard when you don't know its history or mileage.

Caradiodoc
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Saturday, January 16th, 2010 AT 4:13 AM
Tiny
RHINOMAN7
  • MEMBER
Thanks for all of the advice!

My son is attending UTI in Glendale Heights, IL. He will be graduating in November of this year.

We ended up renting a scan tool from Autozone to pull the codes, and found out that there was an issue with the pump seals. My son took everything back apart, and took the pump housing to school to have his transmission teacher check it out. When he was originally done putting everything back together again the first time, he found that there was one "extra" clutch plate in the rebuild kit. Well, when his teacher took the pump housing apart, he found that there was one plate missing. Ooooops! LOL! This caused things to shift around which caused some other problems. His teacher was able to fix all of the issues and get everything put back together the correct way. The car is now back in one piece and is running rather nicely.

As you stated, we did not need to take it to the dealer to have the Quick-Learn procedure done. After driving it around for a while, it is shifting just fine. Saves us $89!

The only remaining issue is that there is still a leak. My son seems to think it still has something to do with the front seal, but without dropping the tranny again, it is impossible to tell. Since we are out of time and money for this project, we are just going to keep the driving down to a minimum for a while and keep an eye on the fluid level. We are also hoping that as the transmission settles in, maybe the leak will stop on its own. I know that may be far-fetched, but stranger things have happened! LOL! We already have an oil spot on the driveway from an old Cougar that used to leak oil, so that is where the Breeze will be parked until the leak stops or gets fixed.

Thanks again for all of the great advice! It is so nice to have this car back on the road. It has been out of commission for 3 months!
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Friday, January 22nd, 2010 AT 9:50 AM

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