2010 TLC 200 - Hard Shift Shock + Trans Will Not Engage (1 Viewer)

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My first post on MUD. So thanks! Sorry for the novel... but I feel like I'm stuck in a saga...

I have a 2010 with 130K miles on it. We’ve only had if for a year, and for the first 6 months it was a dream machine. Then the drive belt tensioner went out (replaced it), then the infamous radiator crack manifested (had fun with JB PlasticWeld but ended up replacing the radiator), and now… the transmission is giving me fits.

I first noticed the trans getting “misconfused” when I would glide over a larger speed bump. I would slow from say 30mph to 10mph going over the bump and upon accelerating on the other side, it would search for 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Ultimately, after the rpms claimed to 1,000 or so, it would jar into 1st or 2nd. The issue progressed… even searching for gears when I rolled through a stop sign.

I drained the pan (measuring the black fluid) and pumped in 24 oz of Lucas Oil Stop Slip (queue the scoffs) and the remaining ounces with Toyota WS ATF. Checked the level at 114F, and it was correct. It seemed to do ok for several weeks. I was proud… until… it came back.

This time…. I dropped the pan for inspection and head scratching (did not replace the screen/filter), and replaced the charred fluid with Toyota WS. Thanks for the video NLScooby. It shifted like a dream, and we drove it 750 miles to the smokies without any issues. Again, I was proud.

When we got home, just to be safe, I started parking on the street instead of our 20 degree angle parking pad, thinking that after sitting over night on a severe angle, the fluid left an air gap somewhere that inhibited friction. Well….after several weeks on the flat parking surface (FPS as I now call it), the issue came back, and after starting it in the morning, it sometimes will not even move in D. The shifter moves freely into D, but it will roll backwards if I’m on a 3 degree incline. After giving it some time (20-30 seconds) and moving the shifter from P-D several times, it will engage, but I can’t find the trigger for it. At one point recently, it hardly made it through an intersection; it just limped through it. My son said, "Go dad!" Ha!

Here’s what I know:
  • The fluid level is correct.
  • This morning it rolled backward in D on a 3 degree hill. It would not engage at all. I moved the lever to Shift Mode and the VSC indicator light came on with a loud clicking sound coming from under the steering wheel. I was at standstill, so the VSC was weird. It went off after 3-5 seconds. This is the second time I’ve heard that noise in the past week. Nonetheless… after 20-30 seconds, I was able to drive it in Shift mode around the block without issue.
  • The “misconfusion” or shift shock after speed bumps or rolling stops is not temperature dependent. Shift Shock seems to be a common experience for 200 owners (I don’t know that I can tolerate it much longer if that’s the case)… it’s just not fun to drive it when that happens…. And my neighbor’s kid calls the TLC “trash” when I take him and my sons to soccer practice.
  • The ECT/2nd seems to have no effect on the issue.
  • It shifts smoothly in Shift mode, but I have not tried it in cold weather. It’s not flawless between 2nd and 3rd, but it get there.
  • The problem occurs exclusively (I think) in the morning, but the outside temps haven’t dipped below 55 yet.
  • L4/H4 and the dif lock operate as they should, so I don’t think there are any issues with the trans itself.
  • My next trouble shoot (tomorrow morn), will be to crank it and let it warm up. Will try it in D first to see what happens.

Again, sorry for the length! Any guidance is greatly appreciated!
 

Sandroad

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I notice one pattern that might help. It was after the radiator was replaced you had the first trans trouble. Then each time you replaced some WS fluid, the trans worked fine for a few weeks and then caused trouble again. You mentioned twice that there was dark or charred fluid during the changes. Is that correct? If so, I wonder the trans is running hot for some reason after the radiator replacement? One note, just because the T-case is working (H4/L4 and diff lock) does not mean the trans is ok. If the trans fluid is getting too hot and needs periodic replacement for the trans to work correctly, I would start with looking at the trans cooling system. And no codes stored during any of this?
 
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Auto trans are complicated things and it may be hard to nail down what's going on. It's curious how the fluid is getting worn and burned. Just to clarify, you are saying the fluid is getting burned/charred right?

Not sure what caused the original issue but it sounds to me like it was low on fluid. Perhaps @Sandroad is onto something, that it the initial damage came from low fluid volume. As you've check multiple times and ensured fluid level is correct, it sounds to me like it's now some form of low internal fluid pressure and the torque converter can't do it's thing. Potentially the fluid is now gunking up the internal filters and effecting the valve bodies operation. It could also be none of that and the torque converter is failing.

I would consult a transmission specialist at this point.
 
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I notice one pattern that might help. It was after the radiator was replaced you had the first trans trouble. Then each time you replaced some WS fluid, the trans worked fine for a few weeks and then caused trouble again. You mentioned twice that there was dark or charred fluid during the changes. Is that correct? If so, I wonder the trans is running hot for some reason after the radiator replacement? One note, just because the T-case is working (H4/L4 and diff lock) does not mean the trans is ok. If the trans fluid is getting too hot and needs periodic replacement for the trans to work correctly, I would start with looking at the trans cooling system. And no codes stored during any of this?

Thanks for the thoughts...

Correct. No codes at any point.

I thought about the trans cooling too... but if I remember correctly, there's no way to get the trans fluid hoses mixed up. Could be something internal?

As for the dark fluid... I drained the pan the first round, so the fluid was 120K old per manufactures specs. The second time, after I dropped the pan, I added 3 quarts and drained 3 quarts, repeatedly until the fluid looked clean. So I haven't checked the fluid since the complete flush.
 
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Auto trans are complicated things and it may be hard to nail down what's going on. It's curious how the fluid is getting worn and burned. Just to clarify, you are saying the fluid is getting burned/charred right?

Not sure what caused the original issue but it sounds to me like it was low on fluid. Perhaps @Sandroad is onto something, that it the initial damage came from low fluid volume. As you've check multiple times and ensured fluid level is correct, it sounds to me like it's now some form of low internal fluid pressure and the torque converter can't do it's thing. Potentially the fluid is now gunking up the internal filters and effecting the valve bodies operation. It could also be none of that and the torque converter is failing.

I would consult a transmission specialist at this point.

Thanks

I should have been more clear on the coloration of the fluid... It was completely black when I drained it, but from what I understand, this is always the case since it's a lifetime fluid... After 120K any ATF should be completely black as I understand it. Charred was probably confusing. Honestly, the pan was pretty clean. The magnets had the expected amount sludge on them (that's what they're there for), but nothing crazy.

My local independent TLC shop will not touch the trans on the 200, nor will a dealership. I think that's because of gunk or fragments being loosened up on flush. I would think that if something is loosened up during the flush that the consequences would be pretty immediate, but I could be wrong. And since it seems to do better after it warms up (except for the shift shock), I can't make sense of it being gunky or clogged. Perhaps the higher temps make the gunk less viscous??? : /
 

Sandroad

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This is getting weird. Why won't a dealership touch it? They may not do a "flush", but certainly they can look the transmission over for cooling issues or fluid issues and get some new fluid in there.

Take a look at this thread for some ideas on fluid exchange and run a search on here for transmission heat. There's something messing up the way the fluid is running through the transmission after a few weeks of use, since it works fine for a while right after you exchange some. Heat? Contamination? Low fluid? Blocked cooling lines? Defective part? I'm still back at the fact everything worked fine until the radiator was replaced. That job get messed up somehow?

 

sdnative

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2x on checking the cooling is working properly, especially if the charred fluid is coincident with the radiator change. Are the transmission cooler lines connected properly to the radiator? Are the lines blocked? Is fluid circulating?
 
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This is getting weird. Why won't a dealership touch it? They may not do a "flush", but certainly they can look the transmission over for cooling issues or fluid issues and get some new fluid in there.

Take a look at this thread for some ideas on fluid exchange and run a search on here for transmission heat. There's something messing up the way the fluid is running through the transmission after a few weeks of use, since it works fine for a while right after you exchange some. Heat? Contamination? Low fluid? Blocked cooling lines? Defective part? I'm still back at the fact everything worked fine until the radiator was replaced. That job get messed up somehow?


Right... they will add fluid if necessary, but they won't drain/refill/flush. They simply said they can't replicate it and there's no code for guidance.

The shift shock occured before the radiator swap. In fact, I took it to my local TLC shop to get their thoughts on it, and they said a) it couldn't be replicated and I should just take it to a trans shop, and b) that the infamous crack was present and I should replace the radiator. So I was concerned about this issue before I swapped the radiator... I can't help but think that the shift shock which has gotten progressively worse over time is related to this lack of engagement.
 
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I know this might not be helpful. But what is your mileage just out of curiosity?

130,000. We've put about 10K on it this year... which is still kinda surprising given we've "stayed home" for all of it.
 
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Can you or have you inspected for any fluid leaks? Symptoms sound like low fluid. Or low fluid pressure. Would make sense as you suggest it works well initially after flushing or servicing. Perhaps add some fluid, or maybe even slightly over procedural spec and see what happens?

If it does come to this, know that you can source used low mileage transmissions for about $2k. Search www.car-part.com

Tundra's generally use the same 6-speed transmission but it's not been a confirmed swap by anyone.
 
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2x on checking the cooling is working properly, especially if the charred fluid is coincident with the radiator change. Are the transmission cooler lines connected properly to the radiator? Are the lines blocked? Is fluid circulating?

Hard to say yes with confidence at this point... But when I did the flush (post radiator swap), the fluid was moving freely from the exit port of the radiator. : / Didn't appear to be any blockage while draining the fluid and moving between the gears. Any thoughts on a better test for that? Thanks!
 
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I had a similar issue...it turned out that my so called mechanic did not top up and fill the transmission fluid correctly at the right temperature.

We were about 1.5 qts low and we would have difficulty reversing when we parked in a space whenever the front nose pointed lower.

Thank goodness another mechanic was able to point out his error and then added Lucas tranny treatment and there has been no issues ever since.
 

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