Car shakes at 30-40mph uphill...Trans? Suggestions Please. - Nissan Forums : Nissan Forum
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#1 Old 10-07-2009, 02:45 AM
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Unhappy Car shakes at 30-40mph uphill...Trans? Suggestions Please.

I've been having this problem with my car for about a month now.
Between 30 & 40mph cruising or going up a hill or incline, the trans drops into the highest gear bringing the rpm's down to about 1k-1100rpm.
Once that happens there's a noticeable shake (like in a manual when you try to start from 2nd and the car bopp's for a second due to very low rev's) after which the car then finally down-shifts to grab a better gear.

What scares me and makes me worry is the shake.
Why does the car drop the rpm's so low?
When I shift over to auto-stick the rev's jump up to 1400-1500 rpm's and stay around there no matter what speed I'm going, they don't really drop below that.

If anyone of you guys has experienced this already or maybe knows what could cause this, Please let me know.

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#2 Old 10-07-2009, 05:55 AM
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Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it sounds like your trans is on its way out.

My daily driver (not the Altima) did this last year. It started with it shifting hard into the highest gear/overdrive. Then it did the same thing your car is doing. Anytime I had to go up a hill in overdrive and it had to hold the gear it would shake like crazy until it downshifted. I started purposely giving it more gas to get it to downshift when going up hills.

My trans was already leaking a little at this time, not much at all, but I made sure to keep it topped off. I was gonna drop the pan and put in a new gasket and filter, but never got to it.

I was coming home from work one nite and having a little fun drifting in the snow (its a RWD V8 beast) and it started shaking as soon as it shifted into overdrive. I was about a 1/2 mile from home, so I just drove it the rest of the way in 2nd. When i got home, I noticed a nice trail of red trans fluid in the fresh snow all the way up my driveway.

Turns out, the OD gear had sheared off from the drum or whatever its called and it blew a seal as well. Sounds like your overdrive is going out like mine did.

EDIT: My car does not shift into overdrive until 40mph, but then again its a completely different car.

And the reason why the revs are higher when you are in auto-stick mode is because it does not use overdrive. Try using the auto-stick mode when going uphill and see if it still does it.

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Last edited by altjt02; 10-07-2009 at 06:00 AM.
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#3 Old 10-07-2009, 05:56 AM
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Hmmm... your first question should be "why is my car shifting to the highest gear when going uphill?". Sounds like there's something wrong with your transmission bud. Better take it in and get it checked out.
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#4 Old 10-07-2009, 12:53 PM
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I just passed 74k on the odometer.
I did a Trans flush at around 50k.
Never really drove it that hard, or redlined it alot.

This is just insane. First the Timing Chain Tensioners go ($2500), then my front right axle needed replacing ($300), then the front-left bearing went ($325), and now this, all within a 2 month span.

Could it just be that I'm low on trans fluid or something like that?
Oh man, I'm not ready for this sh!t.
I'm trying to buy a house dammit.

Thanks for the responses guys.


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#5 Old 10-07-2009, 08:09 PM
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I was talking to a guy a work who had the same problem with his wife's car.

Could it be a speed sensor?

Would resetting everything in the car make any difference?
ECU, throttle position, etc everything back to original state?

When I said shake, what I meant was that it feels like you're going over rumble strips for a split second before the transmission down-shifts.

Ugh, this sucks.

Thanks guys.

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#6 Old 10-08-2009, 12:53 AM
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Something's wrong inside the trannys gears, probably particles when it was serviced?

Anyway, it's definitely the transmission, I doubt it's in need of fluids otherwise it just would be having issues shifting no matter what the gear or uphill or down hill.

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#7 Old 10-08-2009, 06:35 AM
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Well, if you didnt check to see if you are low on ATF, then do that ASAP! That would be the first thing I would check. But like I said, my car was having the same issue, but more severe and it turned out bad.

Since you just had it flushed not that long ago, did they also drop the pan and change the filter, or was it just hooked up to one of those machines? I assume theres a filter in there (although I've never had to deal w/ a FWD auto before). If not, I would try that too and see if that helps. Maybe it is somewhat clogged and overdrive is being starved. If that makes any sense. But like Nismoz2005 said, you would think that there would be issues in other gears as well.
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#8 Old 10-08-2009, 01:16 PM
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Yeah you're right about thinking it would happen in all other gears as well.
I checked my transmission fluid levels and they're perfectly fine.

I'm not sure what was done during the flush.
I thought it was a standard procedure, like an oil change.

It was suggested to me that it might be the speed sensor on the transmission because it seems to me, while I'm driving, that the car's confused as to which gear it should be in.
As I'm speeding up slowly (from a stop to about 35mph) the transmission is constantly trying to shift into the highest gear.
Once it realizes that the gear is too high I get that "rumble-strip" sound and it down-shifts, after which it tries again to go to the highest gear, until I'm going fast enough that even in its highest gear, the rpm's are above 1500 and then everything's fine.
So from my observations, this only happens at slow speeds.

What confuses me the most is that, if I shift into the auto-stick mode, this doesn't happen at all. Of course, I decide when to up-shift, so that might explain that, but still.

I don't get this at all.
I'll have to have it looked at sometime next week I guess.

Thanks for the feedback guys

Pete


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#9 Old 10-08-2009, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by AltimaPimpin View Post
What confuses me the most is that, if I shift into the auto-stick mode, this doesn't happen at all. Of course, I decide when to up-shift, so that might explain that, but still.
This is probably because like you said, you choose when to upshift, but also because the auto-stick mode does not use the highest gear (overdrive) at all.

Use the auto-stick to shift through the gears until you are in the 5th. Then put the car back into D. If you are just cruising, it will likely upshift again into overdrive as soon as you do this.

Until you get it checked out, I would just drive it in auto-stick for now until you get up to speed so this does not keep happening. It cant be good for the trans, so the less it happens the better. Good luck!

Last edited by altjt02; 10-08-2009 at 08:44 PM.
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#10 Old 02-22-2010, 04:34 PM
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Just an update:

About 3 weeks ago I had the transmission looked at.
They wanted $500 to take the transmission apart and find out the problem.

I just asked the mechanic what he can gather from just driving it around.
After we went for a drive, he said it sounds like the problem could be with the torque converter not releasing something that allows it to down-shift and that the transmission is constantly trying to pull in 5th gear.
He said it doesn't sound mechanical and that first he would change the trans fluid because it looked a little dirty anyway so maybe something it getting clogged. Well, he wanted $280 for changing the fluid so I figured I'd do it myself.

I'm trying to save as much money as possible right now, so I ordered 10qts and did a drain-n-refill it this weekend since it was really nice out here in NJ.

Well, the car shifts so much better now and accelerates smoother, but the original issue is still there.
WTF? I can't believe it. Good thing I saved about $200 on finding out that the problem is still there.

Just to reiterate:
Accelerating lightly from a stop, at around 35-40mph the transmission drops into the highest gear (which drops the rpms to 1000-1200) and the car starts to shake for a split second until I let go of the gas. It then up-shifts, but if continue at that speed it does the same thing over and over again.

If I'm just coasting at 40mph (not accelerating just maintaining speed) I can hear the car shift from 4th to 5th back down to 4th and back and forth etc.

Can I just get some sound advice from you guys please?
I can't afford to dump another $2-3k into this car anytime soon.

Has anyone experienced anything like this?
I read almost every transmission post I could find and nothing seems to relate.

Thanks guys.

Pete


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#11 Old 03-11-2010, 08:29 PM
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My bad for bumpin this thread yet again, but I'm going to keep adding to this until there's enough info for me to figure out exactly what's wrong or someone on here reading to figure it out and maybe letting me know.

I noticed that my transmission issue doesn't start occurring until the engine is totally warmed up. Until then the car drives perfectly, there's no premature shifting into 5th, no vibrations. I'm baffled.

Work's been really busy and I don't have time to keep visiting shops.

If anyone can shed some light.
Much appreciated.

Thanks

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#12 Old 03-12-2010, 02:33 AM
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This is a complete shot in the dark and I'm DEF NOT a transmission/car expert in anyway but have you tried just resetting the car computer so it can relearn your driving habits? Maybe something is a little off and there's a one in a million shot it might do it some good. I mean, its free and couldn't hurt right? Lol.

Take the positive and negative off of the car battery and take out the fuse for the ECM and let it sit for at least 2-3 minutes. Hope it helps at all. I'd hate to see that it's absolutely a transmission problem and could cost you a lot. Hope it helps at all.



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#13 Old 03-12-2010, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by dvo2 View Post
This is a complete shot in the dark and I'm DEF NOT a transmission/car expert in anyway but have you tried just resetting the car computer so it can relearn your driving habits? Maybe something is a little off and there's a one in a million shot it might do it some good. I mean, its free and couldn't hurt right? Lol.

Take the positive and negative off of the car battery and take out the fuse for the ECM and let it sit for at least 2-3 minutes. Hope it helps at all. I'd hate to see that it's absolutely a transmission problem and could cost you a lot. Hope it helps at all.
Taking the negative cable off is sufficient

I have a similar issue with an Acura MDX (my DD, the wifey drives the Altima). I've rebuilt a manual trans, but never really fooled around with automatics. The MDX "occasionally" does the exact same "ruble strip" sound/vibration that you describe. I can let off the throttle and it will settle down. There is no shifting up/down when this occurs, it only happens at part-throttle, low load. I was recommended by the stealership to replace the torque converter and ECM (engine control module, ECU, whatever you want to call it).

As for what you describe, the shifting up/down deal, IMO, doesn't make sense. On one hand, it could be the transmission "saving itself" from an error condition (rumblies) and downshifting. If there is ANY error condition, you should get an check engine light. Maybe a speed sensor, solenoid or ECM is just confused. I definitely recommend the battery reset, or find the fuse for the ECM.

Good luck, let us know what you find out!

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#14 Old 03-12-2010, 01:26 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions guys.
I have only reset my ECU using the Technosquare instructions.
I've never heard of the ECU resetting by removing the ground wire from the battery, but I'll try anything at this point.
Luke the speed sensor has been suggested to me before as well, I would hope it is something relatively cheap and easy to fix, depending on if the speed sensor is located on the inside or the outside of the trans.

I wonder (as another shot in the dark) if there's any way all this could be caused by an exhaust leak?
I notice, my car gets relatively loud inside the cabin at 2100rpm, below and above that everything is nice and quiet, but at that rpm only it does get a little droney inside the car.
Also my mileage hasn't been that great lately, I can manage 350-375 miles per tank on mixed hwy/city driving. Last year I was hitting 400-425 miles consistently.
I need to stop by a muffler shop I guess and have them check for leaks or maybe see if I can do it by just jacking up the car in the driveway.

I will try your ECU resetting method though and see what happens.

Thanks again for the feedback guys.

Pete


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#15 Old 03-15-2010, 08:40 PM
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Well, my theory definitely didn't prove to be true.
Went to a local Midas at lunch today to have the exhaust checked for leaks, and the tech found nothing. Said everything's perfectly fine.

Not that I, in any way, thought this would be the reason for my shifting problem, but I wanted to strike it from the list as a possibility.

The only thing I'm left with, is to find a reasonable, trustworthy transmission shop and to put myself at their mercy.
I guess if the trans does need to be rebuilt, I should just drive it until it starts to get worse before I put it into the shop.
This sucks.
This car is officially costing me more than my girlfriend

I wonder if it would be a better idea to find a used tranny with low mileage and swap it out?
What do you guys think?
Would that be cheaper than rebuilding my current one?


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