Differential or Transmission Problems on 96? - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 04-12-2006, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default Differential or Transmission Problems on 96?

Hi Guys! Having a few problems with my $$Money-Loving Bonny, and hoping someone can give me some advice on what to check!
My 1996 Bonneville SSE (no supercharger) has had Traction Control and ABS problems for awhile now Ė starting off with the lights coming on during winter driving whenever TC was required for more than a few seconds. From there, it continued to get worse to the point that I would start the car, drive forward a few hundred feet on dry pavement, and immediately have it disable. I figured that it was related to the wheel sensors, but since it was winter without a garage in New England, I didnít bother checking it Ė I actually prefer to have ABS off for winter driving (although traction control *is* useful). Both front wheel bearing assemblies had been replaced recently Ė driver side a little over a year ago, passenger side last fall. So I put it on the list of things to check this summer.

Well, it seems to have gotten worse and developed other problems (or vice versa, and the TC/ABS issues were early warnings for other issues). At this point, when I start the car in the morning, I hear something rotating/cycling several times, and then the TC and ABS lights come on Ė before Iíve moved or even put the car in gear! Iíve been driving it like this for awhile (figuring it was still part of an optional system) when last week, I was driving back from work (45 minute commute) and encountered a new drive problem. I was driving on the highway between 50-65, and every time the car started to climb a hill and downshifted to maintain speed, it would make a grinding noise and the entire car shuddered back and forth. Maybe my imagination, but I also thought I caught a slight burning smell. I havenít driven it for more than a few minutes since then, and havenít been able to duplicate the problem on a short trip (10-15 minutes of driving).

Any thoughts from the helpful gearheads on the forum? Iím thinking differential problems? Any simple way (other than a tranny shop) to try and determine if this is differential, CV, transmission, or something else I havenít even thought of yet? Is this something that I may have caused by running it without TC & ABS? Also, any thoughts on what ďlikely causesĒ might cost to fix? I still owe the bank $2K for this car, but I canít afford to put much money into it Ė my biggest problem with this car is that I canít afford to fix something until ití* actually broken, by which point it has killed two other things, as well. Is it getting time to junk it?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice!
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:14 PM   #2
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well the first question a lot of people will ask:

what does the transmission fluid look like? Does it smell burnt?
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Old 04-12-2006, 01:33 PM   #3
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Checked fluid, light reddish color, didn't notice a burnt smell, level OK and haven't topped off for a long time. Has not had a transmission flush since I've owned it, and it has 151,000 miles.
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Old 04-12-2006, 02:03 PM   #4
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I'd say that your problems are unrelated. Here'* a couple of links regarding TC/ABS

http://www.bonnevilleclub.com/forum/...ic.php?t=51446

http://www.bonnevilleclub.com/forum/...ic.php?t=49884

As stated in those links, to know for sure, the dealer will have to scan your car.

Your other problem could have several causes. If you don't know when the transmission fluid and filter was replaced, get that done. How about plugs and wires? Problems that develop only after the car is warmed up could be a plugged catalytic converter. Could the grind be more of a rattle? Any noise from it if you smack on it with your hand (don't do when hot!) or a rubber mallet?

I'd start with basic maintenance items first.
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Old 04-12-2006, 03:58 PM   #5
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I actually read the posts you mention before posting, and opinion seemed to be divided on whether TC/ABS problems could cause the differential to wear out. Haven't checked the CAT - I can look at that tommorrow. Plugs need to be changed, it'* running a little rough - Could that, combined with something else, really be enough to cause the vehicle to shudder on downshift if the engine and RPMs seemed fine at the time?
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Old 04-12-2006, 05:42 PM   #6
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I would expect the shudder to occur more while the torque converter is still locked up, before any shifting. Put bad plugs, wires, plugged cat, and worn out transmission fluid, it could. A good diagnosis would start by making sure the vehicle is running properly first. If problems persist, then other areas can be investigated (fuel pressure, MAF and throttle body cleaning, etc) before starting into the expensive stuff.
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