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Old 03-07-2023, 02:51 PM #1
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2002ltd transmission/torque converter woes

Hi all,

Long-term reader but first-time poster here. So far I have been able to solve most problems on our 2002 limited by reading through this fantastic forum - thank you all! However, now I am out of wits.

Symptoms started last fall: whining noise when revving, either stationary or moving when in gear. No noise when in P or N (I exclude diffs etc because it whined also when stationary). When moving, noise goes away at higher speeds (3rd and 4th gear).
Thus, I thought immediately it was a transmission issue. That happened in Mexico and I drove it back 1500+ miles without problems, only at the end it threw a transmission code. Brought it to a transmission shop, and they dropped the pan, said they found metal shavings and recommended a rebuild. Back then I was in a pickle because I needed the rig for a trip and didnít have a place to wrench, so I agreed. They pulled the transmission, and tore it apart and diagnosed that the pump had spun its bearing. After the rebuilt, the noise was gone.

Fast forward, three weeks ago whining started again (exactly the same symptoms I had in the beginning), and I brought it back to the shop. They pulled the tranny and said it was a bad torque converter (note TC had been replaced during rebuild, so had less than 1500 miles on it). Changed it under warranty. Whining is gone.

Now, after a couple of hundred miles, the whining starts again. I just have a hard time believing that we killed another torque converter. Of course, I can (and probably will) eventually bring it back to the shop, but Iíd like to get to the bottom of this or at least get some more informed opinion from all of you!

I would appreciate any thought. Some mods we have that might be related:
- Running 33s with original gears
- Rear lunchbox locker
- Transmission oil cooler

Iíve heard that the oil coolers can make/amplify whining noises, but then itís strange that the noise is gone after the shop had rebuilt the transmission, and later changed the TC, and both times the whining was clearly related to a faulty part (I assume the shop would not lie to me about the TC being broken the second time, as they changed in under warranty).

any inputs much appreciated!
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Old 03-07-2023, 03:00 PM #2
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Man. This stinks. Mostly when TC goes bad they Stull at stop signs.

I wonder why your transmission pump spun that bearing to begin with?

I just cut my loss and go after a working used or remfg transmission as something is up with the one you have for some reason.

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Old 03-07-2023, 03:30 PM #3
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Thanks @Brillo 76.
I wonder if the original problem was also rather related to the TC, which probably created some metal shavings which then took out the pump bearing (bc the sound and symptoms are all identical, each of the three times).

Indeed, should have probably gone with a junkyard transmission to begin with. But now I have handed over several k$ to the transmission shop, and still have 16 month of warranty left, so not yet ready to cut my losses
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Old 03-07-2023, 03:33 PM #4
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Not being there I can only give u my impression, if the TC did go out and they only replaced it without pulling the trans apart to clean out any contamination (guessing the trans shop was hoping that replacing the bad TC would be enough to get down the road long enough that it would not be their problem anymore) it probably took ur front pump out. I'd check the fluid for metal. U should still be under warranty, go back to the shop and give them a chance to make it right, they will need to pull and disassembly the trans again and clean it out thoroughly and probably replace the TC and front pump again. If they don't u would have to take them to small claims court after u get it fixed by another place. Mite be a good idea to get a hold of the place @mtbtim recommends down around u...
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Old 03-07-2023, 03:47 PM #5
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Some more info here: when they first told me that the pump had spun a bearing they showed me the broken pump (ok, it could have been pulled from another transmission, can't exclude this 100%). The second time when they changed the TC, they said that there was some metal but that they had opened and cleaned out everything. How to check for metal in the fluid myself? The fluid on dipstick looks clean. Do something like Blackstone Labs?

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Old 03-07-2023, 04:04 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rschmitt View Post
Some more info here: when they first told me that the pump had spun a bearing they showed me the broken pump (ok, it could have been pulled from another transmission, can't exclude this 100%). The second time when they changed the TC, they said that there was some metal but that they had opened and cleaned out everything. How to check for metal in the fluid myself? The fluid on dipstick looks clean. Do something like Blackstone Labs?
Run the 4runner for about 20mins to get it up to temp and the fluid circulated throughout the unit, turn off the 4runner and pull the drain plug quickly and put it back in then look at the fluid on ur hand for metal is the way I would do it. If ur have a trans cooler or the trans is running into the Rad cooler they would/should have been clean out also as the metal would be there also.
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Old 03-07-2023, 04:24 PM #7
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Did this shop charge you every time they worked on it, or did they just charge you the first time and the subsequent times were warranty work? It sort of sounds like to me this shop doesn't exactly know what they're doing.
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Old 03-07-2023, 04:57 PM #8
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hi @mtbtim thanks for chiming in (and thanks for all the videos):

Quote:
Did this shop charge you every time they worked on it, or did they just charge you the first time and the subsequent times were warranty work? It sort of sounds like to me this shop doesn't exactly know what they're doing.
The second TC was done under warranty. Actually one reason that I decided for a rebuild rather than a used tranny was that it came with a 24 months warranty that is valid across the country (I think the organization warranting is is called Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association).

However, my feeling is also they don't know what they are doing - which is a bummer, firstly because it was very expensive, and secondly because we take this vehicle to remote places and I need to rely on it.

And @clearock one of my ideas was indeed that they did not flush out the radiators etc and the metal in there took out a bearing in the replacement TC

Ps.: shop was recommended by a Toyota mechanic in Berkeley, but indeed they seem to mostly work on American brands otherwise.

But what else to do except bringing it back another time.
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Old 03-08-2023, 11:43 AM #9
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Following this saga. I have had the same sounds for a year+ and while the AT works fine, it has severely impacted my faith in doing what I love doing in mine - multi-day off-road trips. I am planning to drop the pan soon and inspect the filter and have sourced a few wrecking yard units at places like Toyautomart. I will replace the filter on the yard unit before installing/getting it installed. Hoping you find a permanent solution soon!

Edit - what part of SF do you live in? We could compare whining/straining noises sometime!
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Old 03-08-2023, 12:43 PM #10
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Hi @Endlessblockades , I totally hear you - in a road car I would probably just ignore it and count on my AAA membership. Much less tolerance if your truck could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. BTW - I am in potrero hill. Would be interesting to compare noises....

For now, I will bring the 'runner back to the transmission place and they'll take a look tomorrow. In retrospect, I should have just gone down the junkyard route and gotten a used unit.

@mtbtim is there a place you'd recommend in the bay area for transmission work?

I'll keep this thread updated and thanks to everyone for chiming in already.
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Old 03-08-2023, 04:45 PM #11
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Nice - I'm by Mission Dolores but I drive over your hill often on my way to Center Hardware. Mine is a semi-daily driver that lives on the street. Green 2000 Limited.
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Looks like it's currently still there, too, according to an Airtag with its speaker removed - that's a bonus.
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Old 07-06-2023, 02:20 AM #12
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Wrap up

Just to wrap up this thread and possibly provide some ideas to people with similar problems:

After I posted above about my recurring transmission whine problem I took it back to the shop. They pulled the transmission and blamed a scored pump bearing - and replaced the pump and torque converter.

Fast forward another 1000 miles and the truck throws code P770 (torque converter lock-up solenoid) on our way to Mexico, and whining started again. We had it checked by a shop in San Diego who advised that we would probably be fine. We drove it (carefully, no off-roading that we had planned) around Baja and back to SF without any major problems. Pulling the pan back home revealed major amounts of non-magnetic shavings. Probably from the torque converter.

After that experience I was done with the shop, which not only had our car for probably 8 weeks total but also pretty much ruined a carefully planned trip. They were super apologetic and claimed that they rebuild plenty of A340s and then claimed that our transmission was broken in a non-fixable way, but had no explanation of what could be wrong. They offered to rebuild another transmission and put that in. At this point I politely declined their service and ask for my money back - on which they agreed.

In the end we just got a transmission from the junk (via Toyautomart) with 140k miles (I suspect it has a bit more, but ok) for $1700 (including tax and shipping). Put it in myself with a buddy following @mtbtim videos and the FSM.

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Old 07-06-2023, 02:27 AM #13
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Some takehomes from that ordeal:
- if your transmission whines when in gear but not in park or neutral its probably a problem with the TC (not just a plugged strainer or wrong fluid levels). If your CEL P770 comes on, it's probably a hardware problem and not a bad solenoid.
- if you get your transmission rebuilt get it done in a shop with a good warranty, and pay with your credit card (my CC company would have been willing to start a chargeback if the shop had not agreed to refund). I can tell you where not to go....
- our experience seems to confirm the general advise (here and elsewhere) to not to rebuild our transmissions. I am sure it can be done and that there are great transmission shops. Yet, most shops I saw in the bay area are these old-school mom-and-pop operations (with mostly vintage American cars in their shops) that are really tedious to deal with and probably do not work according to the most up-to-date standards required for even our pretty basic transmissions.
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Old 07-06-2023, 10:25 AM #14
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Quote:
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Some takehomes from that ordeal:

- if your transmission whines when in gear but not in park or neutral its probably a problem with the TC (not just a plugged strainer or wrong fluid levels). If your CEL P770 comes on, it's probably a hardware problem and not a bad solenoid.

- if you get your transmission rebuilt get it done in a shop with a good warranty, and pay with your credit card (my CC company would have been willing to start a chargeback if the shop had not agreed to refund). I can tell you where not to go....

- our experience seems to confirm the general advise (here and elsewhere) to not to rebuild our transmissions. I am sure it can be done and that there are great transmission shops. Yet, most shops I saw in the bay area are these old-school mom-and-pop operations (with mostly vintage American cars in their shops) that are really tedious to deal with and probably do not work according to the most up-to-date standards required for even our pretty basic transmissions.
Good advice...;)

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