1991 Toyota Corolla 91 Corolla Tranny noise

Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
  • 1991 TOYOTA COROLLA
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 104,000 MILES
Hi!

I had posted earlier about my tranny locking up at 40mph then limping home at 20mph.A thought just occurred to me.I had just replaced the bearing on the driver's side, yet still heard a noise, which I had originally thought to be the bearing (it sounded very similar, yet to a lessor degree, to the noise I heard before I did the bearing on the other side). Now I am wondering if this could've just been my tranny whining? It only did this noise (or I could only hear it) after I got up to about 20 or so, but I ceased to be able to hear it once I went over maybe 45.

Like I said, I was thinking it was my bearing at first, but I replaced it and still heard the noise.

So I'm wondering if maybe it could just be a fluid and filter change I need?

Also, can the transmission just "slip out" of gear at 40mph and come to a halt? I just can't understand the mechanics behind it, and I want to understand it better.

I moved my car today in my parking lot (it is VERY cold out!) And the tranny was definitely sluggish. Just from the cold? Or no?

Finally, could it do real harm to replace all the fluid? Or would a simple dump (not flush) work ok?

Thanks!
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Thursday, December 10th, 2009 AT 2:51 PM

11 Replies

Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
The Aisian 3 speed auto has a seperate fluid supply for the differential (where the axles go into).

When changing CV axles you must refill the differential with ATF, or you take the chance of the differential siezing, due to lack of lubrication.

The fill plug for the differential is located on the rear of differential next to firewall, and is hard to get to unless car is raised high on hoist.

So I doubt the trans is the problem, it is the differential.
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Friday, December 11th, 2009 AT 8:08 AM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
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Yes, I remember we had this discussion earlier when I did my half-shafts. So are you saying that I should just drain and refill the fluid? Because it didn't take much, so perhaps the fluid is just old/thin/dirty?

And since I am under there, I may as well just do the filter and fluid for the rest of the tranny. And it should be fine/preferable, not to do a flush, just to do a drain?

Is there anything else I should look for while I am doing this that may indicate another problem?

I am leaning toward doing this myself, even though it is super-cold out, because I just don't trust most shops. Bad, huh?

Would a typical shop know what I am talking about in reference to the differential fluid? Do most shops do a fluid flush or just change?

Thanks.
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Friday, December 11th, 2009 AT 11:14 AM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
Ok, so I drained and refilled the differential thingy. It was low and dirty. Took it for a test spin and it did not want to shift out of first gear. The car was only, say, half warm (fluid level checked fine at the cold mark) and it is like 25 degrees outside! I did not want to push it, so I brought it back, let it run for a bit, and tried to take it for another test spin when fully warm. I did not make it far because it started to feel like it wanted to stall out and it started making a weird noise, like a bubbling marble was in the tranny (I know that sounds weird, but hey!). On a side note, the bearings in my alternator sound like they are going bad, too, so I was worried I might just be hearing that noise, but I don't think that was it.

I did not try to push it when I took it for the first test drive, I had planned on my second spin to see if I could get it out of first gear, but obviously my car had other plans!

Checked the fluid level again when warm, same level as before, slightly above the top notch on hot. I also noticed a small puddle of tranny fluid under the car. I had noticed when draining the differential that there did seem to be fluid leaking. I had replaced the seals when I replaced the half shafts, so I'm not sure why it would be leaking. I couldn't pinpoint exactly where the fluid was coming from.

So. Any ideas? I am obviously going to have to take it to a shop, but I don't want to get fleeced, so I'd like to have some ideas of realistic scenarios that could have struck my tranny. Some kind of sensor? Horribly dirty fluid? A clogged filter? Broken gears!

Thanks again for your help!
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Friday, December 11th, 2009 AT 4:28 PM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
I wanted to add something I forgot. When I was driving my car, it acted differently when I took my foot off the gas. It slowed down much quicker than it normally would have, if that makes sense. Not sure if that was just due to new fluid in the differential or what. Not sure if this is important or not!
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Friday, December 11th, 2009 AT 5:21 PM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
Also check the TV cable. You will notice that on the throttle body there is a throttle cable and a TV cable that connects to trans. This controls hydraulic pressure in trans, as you depress throttle the TV cable rotates increasing pressure within trans.
Long shifts, slipping are signs of a bad TV cable.
Makse sure cable is adjusted proberly and not binding or broke.
Rotate TB to WOT, TV cable has a small ball staked to cable, ball should come out past rubber cover 1mm. If not adjust to 1mm.

The differential seperates the transmission. While connected, only a sealed shaft from trans goes into differential.
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Saturday, December 12th, 2009 AT 7:20 AM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
So I looked at the cables and didn't notice anything broke or otherwise out of whack. But I'm certainly no expert! Car has been towed to the tranny shop.I am very sad and missing my lovely car!

Guy at the tranny shop said something about some kind of pin or ring in the differential that may be broke. He suggested maybe I'd have to replace the differential, maybe the tranny depending on what I supposedly broke. I am already angry and feeling ripped off and they haven't even looked at the car yet!

I am irritated because I know so little about trannys and diffs and how they work.I've been looking online for info, just so I can understand it.

Can anyone tell me what this guy is suggesting is broken?

What kind of things are they going to be looking for?

Are there any kind of "tests" that they should be doing?

Also, are there any kind of repairs that are just not worth doing, or a case in which it would be better to just replace the whole transaxle?

Just looking for any kind of info here!

I hate not being able to do this myself!

Thanks.
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Monday, December 14th, 2009 AT 6:18 PM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
What has probably happened is that the differential was out of fluid long enough that it caused bearing damage, he is suggesting that the differential be changed. So I don't think he is trying to rip you off (depending on how much he wants to repair).
The differential loses fluid from the axle seals, when they leak fluid, they must be replaced and differential refilled.

I used to buy 90-92 Corolla's and repair/resell them.
One was a 91 with a siezed differential, car would move about 5 feet them lock up and stop.

I simply bought an entire trans from a 92 Corolla and replaced it myself, that was 2 years ago and car is still running fine (knock on wood :) ).

I paid $300 for the trans. Most shops would charge you $500-700 for install. If he can replace the differential for less and give you a warranty, then I would do that.

Cars can be frustrating Sara, repairing them is a matter of knowledge and the proper equipment.
I have no doubt you have the ability, and knowledge is a matter of getting a repair manual. Problem is I don't know if you have the proper tools ( hand tools, air tools, cherry picker, stands, floor jack etc.

See if you can find a local mechanic, who does work on the side and talk to him/her about the best course of action.

I usually charge $500 for tear down and install. You may be able to find local mechanic that can do it for about same price.
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Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 AT 6:47 AM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
I absolutely appreciate your continued response! I just got a call from the tranny shop and they are saying, based on pulling it into the shop and putting it on a lift and wiggling the axles, that the bearings are shot. They suggest it leaked out fluid, overheated, and damaged the bearings, as you suggested. Maybe also the ring gear. About $600.

BUT they called that "fixing it on the cheap" and what they REALLY want to do is tear out the tranny and dissect it to the tune of $1400 to make sure the pinion gear (he got me confused going back and forth between the ring and pinion stuff!) Isn't damaged or it didn't do damage to the trans and something about replacing a seal. Which I'm guessing is the seal you spoke of in discussing the link between the diff and tranny. Then he said fluid from the diff (which he said was gear lube) may have contaminated the tranny. I said, well, as far as I knew, it was just plain old tranny fluid, not gear lube. That's what the manual says and that is what my online buddy said! SO not sure what he was speaking of there! (Plus I smelled the fluid that came out of the diff and it smelled sweet, not like 80 or 90 weight or whatever that stinky stuff is called!)
I know from checking the tranny fluid that I feel fairly confident no fluid got into the tranny from the diff. The level was constant every single time I checked, before and after the seize-up and my refill.

They also said something about "this model of tranny is known" as having this problem and damaging the internal parts of the tranny and I'm thinking, what, when boneheads like me let all their fluid leak out of the diff and don't notice! (Though every parking spot in my complex is full of leak stains, I feel I should've noticed). I feel like a real doof!

So, do I just tell them, hey, just replace the diff and hope they do a swell job and that nothing else was damaged? I do know a backyard mechanic, but I'm not sure if he'd want to do it. He told me previously he has little knowledge of trannys. Though he does have all the proper tools, and I most certainly do not! I don't even have a garage or even a driveway, I got an apartment complex parking lot! Heck, he may let me do my own work. But I think that may create an impression that would be unwanted on my part.(Last time I tried to talk to him about car stuff, he started talking about needing a new girlfriend, yikes!)

I just feel like I put too much into this car to not fix it, and it was my negligence that caused the problem. And though I try to be as independent and self-reliant as possible, I know I have neither the tools nor a place to do this job myself.

Again, thank you so much for your continued conversation, it really puts my mind at ease! :)
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Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 AT 9:14 AM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
Went up to the shop and talked to them in person.I asked, wouldn't it just be cheaper to put a whole new tranny in? Yes, $375 for labor plus a trans, which I found at a boneyard for $135 (waiting to find out the price of one through "their" junkyards). Plus seals, so I'm guessing it'll come to around $600 with tax and all that.

My question. Would it be worth it?

I found it funny, the guy said he hadn't had a Toyota in his shop for about 5 years. Because they never have any problems! But he also said he would hesitate to put in a new tranny. Not sure what to make of that!

While $600 is waaay more than I've ever put into repairs at a shop, it is much cheaper than trying to find another car of this quality, and that I am so familiar with in regards to the kind of work that would ever need to be done on it.

What kind of problems may arise upon the replacement of a tranny that would make it not worth it?

Thanks again:)
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Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 AT 3:56 PM
Tiny
MMPRINCE4000
  • EXPERT
The only downside to a used tranny is that it is warranted for replacement only, labor is not included.

So if you happen to get a dud, then you would get a replacement trans, but labor would not be included.

In my case, I didn't have a problem with it because I did the work myself.

Have the trans shop inspect the replacement, maybe even re-seal it to be sure you are getting a quality replacement.

The Toyota A131L is and excellent trans. The problem the trans shop mentioned is one of axle seals leaking, and honestly, the problem is with the repair techs (they are unaware of the seperate differential) as opposed to the customer.

So don't let them make you feel bad, THEY are supposed to know that.
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Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 AT 10:00 PM
Tiny
SARABROWNS
  • MEMBER
Well, right now I am trying to find someone who has the knowledge and equipment to do the job, yet will let me hang out/help out so I can learn a few things. That would bring down the labor cost, too! The leads I have may make me wait until after the holidays, but I can handle that.

In the meantime, I've got my mom's 93 Camry-- 200,000miles-- though it needs a battery, has a cracked radiator, leaks a lot of oil (think a shop told her it was a rear main seal or something), black brake fluid, black tranny fluid. But she hasn't driven it in months and is never nice to her cars anyways (drives me nuts!). She has killed a Toyota and a Buick, if I am not mistaken. And a Dodge Caravan, though those anyone can kill:)

Or I can let that tranny shop do the job and hope I get a good one! I just have to hope they don't try to dump gear lube in the diff. Maybe since they haven't had a Toyota in there in years, it was an honest mistake:)

Too bad you don't live next door, I'd have you do it!

Again, thank you for your counsel, it is greatly appreciated!

On a side note, I am curious, do you agree with the philosophy, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Or do you do "preventative" work, like fix a fuel line that is rusty as hell, but is not yet leaking? Just curious!

Thanks again! :)
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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 AT 10:42 AM

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