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mattcopiak

1993 xe transmission issues

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Hey everyone I'm new to the forum and wanted to jump in right away. My name is Matt and I'm from the west coast of Canada. I recently became the owner of a 1993 pathfinder with the vg30e engine and the re4r01a Trans. First off I want to say that I love this truck even though it's older, a bit stubborn and has an attitude it's not unlike myself, we have plenty in common. The other day on my drive home from work the transmission just quit . I was at highway speeds (not accelerating or slowing down) with the overdrive engaged, nothing seemed to happen accept the power disappeared. I coasted to a stop on the shoulder and put it into park at which time I tried shifting back into drive........nothing. so I put it into second then first then back to drive.......still nothing. Reverse...Nada! Had the truck towed home and started to do my research and can't find any info about this issue. Lots of chatter about no drive or reverse but not all gears. Now my suspicions are leaning towards shift solenoids but wanted possible confirmation before taking on that slightly daunting task. Any insight from you guys would be amazing and greatly appreciated. Cheers and sorry for the painfully long ramble.

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These were plagued with a weak transmission cooler ( now quite popular in current vehicles) located at the lower tank in the radiator. IF, perchance, that is the the original rad, then the engine may have inadvertently mixed the coolant and transmission fluid. That would be bad. Usually though there would be at least some warning, no power going uphill, weak acceleration, lots of flaring....and if you pull the radiator cap you'll see oil floating around. If you have no oil in the rad you _should_ be alright on that front. Complete loss of drive and reverse does sound like more of a relay / elecritical power issue rather than a solenoid. Never heard of multiple solenoids all dying at the exact same time. I would look at the electrical side of things first, mostly a loose or broken ground cable is what I am suspecting, but don't rule out anything yet!

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thanks SpecialWarr, I just recently did a thermostat and coolant swap and everything looked fine on that side.no oil in coolant and when i checked the trans fluid level it looked and smelled like it should, not milky or burnt. electrical is the part of vehicle repair that has always given me a headache lol. thanks for the input, i guess i will have to get on my back and under the truck to do some wire tracking. to see if anything looks broken or not quite right. cheers 

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1 hour ago, SpecialWarr said:

These were plagued with a weak transmission cooler ( now quite popular in current vehicles) located at the lower tank in the radiator. IF, perchance, that is the the original rad, then the engine may have inadvertently mixed the coolant and transmission fluid. That would be bad. Usually though there would be at least some warning, no power going uphill, weak acceleration, lots of flaring....and if you pull the radiator cap you'll see oil floating around. If you have no oil in the rad you _should_ be alright on that front. Complete loss of drive and reverse does sound like more of a relay / elecritical power issue rather than a solenoid. Never heard of multiple solenoids all dying at the exact same time. I would look at the electrical side of things first, mostly a loose or broken ground cable is what I am suspecting, but don't rule out anything yet!

thanks SpecialWarr, I just recently did a thermostat and coolant swap and everything looked fine on that side.no oil in coolant and when i checked the trans fluid level it looked and smelled like it should, not milky or burnt. electrical is the part of vehicle repair that has always given me a headache lol. thanks for the input, i guess i will have to get on my back and under the truck to do some wire tracking. to see if anything looks broken or not quite right. cheers

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That is strange. So park does engage? And every other shifter position acts like neutral? Are there any noises at all? It’s hard to imagine what could cause forward and reverse to both die.

I’ll look in the FSM for mine to see if there is a condition detailing the loss of both forward and reverse. Give me till tomorrow.


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1 hour ago, onespiritbrain said:

That is strange. So park does engage? And every other shifter position acts like neutral? Are there any noises at all? It’s hard to imagine what could cause forward and reverse to both die.

I’ll look in the FSM for mine to see if there is a condition detailing the loss of both forward and reverse. Give me till tomorrow.


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thanks onespiritbrain, that's exactly what is happening, park works mut all the other gears are free. I can even rev the engine in all gear setting with no result, no noises, no friction or burning smell, and definitely no movement. im no transmission expert, i really know very little about the inner workings of an automatic transmission and what i do know is probably just enough to get me into trouble lol. I appreciate you looking into this for me and look forward to hearing any input /advice you have tomorrow, cheers and thanks.

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Sounds to me like the pump is no longer working. Unfortunately, unless you have access to a pressure gauge for the trans, don't know how to test. Another possibility I guess is a failed torque converter, but usually they will make noises and other warnings.

A friend of mine had a similar thing happen with his Exploder a few blocks from my home a few years ago. He was driving fine, went through a dip in an intersection and when he started to accelerate the engine revved and the truck slowed to a stop. Was like he only had park and neutral. Towed him to my house and we pulled the trans and found the pump had broken. Put a replacement pump in and was good for a few months until he got in a wreck and totaled the truck. 

 

The problems with the coolers in the early 90s was not leaking, but clogging. The design used very small holes in the tubing for the fluid to flow through and those holes tended to clog restricting flow. That in turn tended to reduce flow to the planetary sets. That lead to more wear and debris that would clog the cooler more. It was a nasty feedback loop that wound up destroying the trans. Replacement radiators solved that problem as did bypassing and using a large external cooler. Regular fluid changes helped as well. 

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7 minutes ago, onespiritbrain said:

Having trouble posting.

Lol no problem, it seems to have come through in I'm email but not on the forum page. I appreciate the info, I'll read it a little more closely when I'm off work. Cheers

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When you turn the ignition on, do you get any flashing lights on the dash? If there's an electrical issue, the "Power" light on the dash should flash out a code for what it's upset about (assuming the "E-AT" switch is off). If not, either the auto trans computer sees nothing wrong (suggesting it's not an electrical issue) or the computer's not getting power for some reason. There's a check connector under the dash where you can jumper a pin to ground to force it to flash if you want to make sure the computer's still awake. The AT section of the '90 manual (which you can get here) should cover that procedure. The '94/'95 manual on Nico should have pretty much the same info, though the light was moved from the dash to inside the E-AT switch for the round-dash trucks.

 

When the pump in my friend's S10 Blazer gave up, it was a similar story. He went to accelerate and it just revved. We had to winch it onto the trailer to get it to the shop. (For the record, a WD21 can pull an S10 Blazer on a flatbed, but it probably shouldn't.) When I tore down the trans I found that the pump rotor had split into three pieces and one of the vanes had escaped and somehow ended up in the filter. The pan, valve body, and the screens on the solenoids were covered in metal bits. We didn't even consider rebuilding it.

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Slartibartfast said:

When you turn the ignition on, do you get any flashing lights on the dash? If there's an electrical issue, the "Power" light on the dash should flash out a code for what it's upset about (assuming the "E-AT" switch is off). If not, either the auto trans computer sees nothing wrong (suggesting it's not an electrical issue) or the computer's not getting power for some reason. There's a check connector under the dash where you can jumper a pin to ground to force it to flash if you want to make sure the computer's still awake. The AT section of the '90 manual (which you can get here) should cover that procedure. The '94/'95 manual on Nico should have pretty much the same info, though the light was moved from the dash to inside the E-AT switch for the round-dash trucks.

 

When the pump in my friend's S10 Blazer gave up, it was a similar story. He went to accelerate and it just revved. We had to winch it onto the trailer to get it to the shop. (For the record, a WD21 can pull an S10 Blazer on a flatbed, but it probably shouldn't.) When I tore down the trans I found that the pump rotor had split into three pieces and one of the vanes had escaped and somehow ended up in the filter. The pan, valve body, and the screens on the solenoids were covered in metal bits. We didn't even consider rebuilding it.

 

 

Slartibartfast thanks, no flashing lights, no codes, nothing. what you talk about sounds way above my pay grade and skill level, not to mention it stresses the s#*t out of me even thinking it might be that bad......

Maybe I'd be better off just sourcing out a replacement trans, just swap it all and be done with it. Hmmmmm either way I'm looking at a chunk of $$$ out of my wallet I guess. Thanks for your help man, I appreciate it. Cheers 🍻

Edited by mattcopiak

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Fortunately (?) the electronics on these trucks are fairly basic, and the manual does a reasonable job of walking you through it without calling for special equipment. The Xterra/Frontier transmissions are supposed to bolt right up and be stronger than the stock trans, so look into that as an option. Good luck!

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8 minutes ago, Slartibartfast said:

Fortunately (?) the electronics on these trucks are fairly basic, and the manual does a reasonable job of walking you through it without calling for special equipment. The Xterra/Frontier transmissions are supposed to bolt right up and be stronger than the stock trans, so look into that as an option. Good luck!

Thanks for the info, I didn't know about the compatibility of the other transmissions, that will open up a bit of a bigger parts pool to go off of. Cheers

 

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1988-2000 Pathfinder with VG30 or Vg33E, 1988-1997 Hardbody with the VG30E, 1998-2004 Frontier with the VG33E or 2000-2004 Xterra with the VG33E or ER will all bolt in.

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1 hour ago, adamzan said:

1988-2000 Pathfinder with VG30 or Vg33E, 1988-1997 Hardbody with the VG30E, 1998-2004 Frontier with the VG33E or 2000-2004 Xterra with the VG33E or ER will all bolt in.

thanks adamzan that is very valuable information for someone in my situation lol. cheers 

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No problem! Been through it myself on my 1994. I'm now parting it out but I'm in Ontario so that doesn't help you much. It has an 02 Xterra trans in it.

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Exact same thing happened to me, trans died with no warning, coasted to a stop. No gears, only park. Ended up swapping trans.... unfortunately for me there was no info on different trans working like the newer xterra or frontier from a 3.3.....so i put in a trans from a 95 into my 93. Definately go the newer trans and get one from a SC xterra or frontier

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34 minutes ago, Jim93se said:

Exact same thing happened to me, trans died with no warning, coasted to a stop. No gears, only park. Ended up swapping trans.... unfortunately for me there was no info on different trans working like the newer xterra or frontier from a 3.3.....so i put in a trans from a 95 into my 93. Definately go the newer trans and get one from a SC xterra or frontier

Thanks Jim93se, that's the same issue I've been having (no information). This forum has been great and has lead me to the conclusion I suspected from the start but didn't want to admit lol. The truck is parked for the time being and I will  be trying to source out a replacement that fits into my very tight budget. In the meantime it gives me the opportunity, and reason, to do a few other needed repairs that I have been putting off (ball joints, tie rod ends, control arm bushings, torsion bars and keys etc, etc). If I'm going to do an upgrade on the trans I guess I should beef up some of the other things as well lol. Thanks for your insight, you seem to be the only other person I have talked to that has had the exact same issue I have, cheers 🍻.

 

Thus marks the birth of the C.N.T.F.A (Complete Nissan Transmission Failure Association) it will be a very small club haha

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2 hours ago, mattcopiak said:

Thus marks the birth of the C.N.T.F.A (Complete Nissan Transmission Failure Association) it will be a very small club haha

 

If you count the Strawberry Milkshake of Death and CVT failures, that club might have more members than some political parties! Acronym might need work, though.

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It cost me $700 canadian for my 02 X trans. It had about 120,000 km on it. Came out of a truck that was side swiped. The transfer case was included in that price so not a bad deal at all.

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