Car won’t move

Boomer

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#1
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MAKE:Chevy
MODEL:Malibu
YEAR:2009
MILES:?
ENGINE:3.5
DESCRIBE ISSUE.... Hi guys, my daughter who lives 2.5 hours away says her car won’t move in any gear. Is it unusual for not even reverse to work or, common? I’ve never had trans trouble. Could it possibly be anything besides the transmission needs replaced? Any help would be great
 

billr

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#2
Can I assume this is an automatic trans? Look for a broken axle (half-shaft) first, then broken connection between flex-plate and torque converter.

If there is any way to get live-data, then a lot of guessing, or poking around in the cold, could be avoided. Look at the "trans turbine speed", that is the input to the trans gearing after the converter and will quickly verify that the converter/flex-plate connection is OK. Look at the VSS, if there is speed showing there, but no wheels turning, that pretty much proves there is a broken axle or something similar. Look at the "gear commanded" and "gear selected". This may be as simple as shift linkage is broken and trans is never really getting out of P or N, no matter what the driver thinks they are selecting.

Can you get them to try pushing the car (not in P of course) by hand? It would be nice to verify something isn't horribly jammed and can actually move.
 

Boomer

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Can I assume this is an automatic trans? Look for a broken axle (half-shaft) first, then broken connection between flex-plate and torque converter.

If there is any way to get live-data, then a lot of guessing, or poking around in the cold, could be avoided. Look at the "trans turbine speed", that is the input to the trans gearing after the converter and will quickly verify that the converter/flex-plate connection is OK. Look at the VSS, if there is speed showing there, but no wheels turning, that pretty much proves there is a broken axle or something similar. Look at the "gear commanded" and "gear selected". This may be as simple as shift linkage is broken and trans is never really getting out of P or N, no matter what the driver thinks they are selecting.

Can you get them to try pushing the car (not in P of course) by hand? It would be nice to verify something isn't horribly jammed and can actually move.
Thanks Bill. Yes Automatic. I did tell them to try shifting and looking underneath at the same time to see if the linkage moved. They are assuring me it's not the cable. They also say there are shavings in the fluid on the dipstick. The problem is they are young kids and I have to take everything they say with a grain of salt. I really don't know if they can get access to a scanner or not. They are pretty much broke so getting professional diagnosis isn't really feasible. I understand they pulled it home so it must roll in neutral. It wouldn't surprise me if they ran it dry on fluid.

Good point about the axle. I hadn't thought of that.
 

billr

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#4
If they think there are shavings, ask them to deposit the (oily) shavings on a piece of clean white paper, let that sit long enough for the paper to wick away the fluid on the shavings, and then post a picture of what is there.

If they are broke and must do DIY repair/maintenance, I suggest and ELM327 link for live-data would make an excellent Christmas gift for them. The hardware is very inexpensive ($20-50) and some usable software can be had for free. Most of the "investment" will in spending the time to learn how to use it. That's assuming they already have some kind of laptop, tablet, or phone to link to. Nickb2 seems to be the expert here on that ELM327 stuff, so PM him if he doesn't join in soon.
 
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#6
That no REVERSE is not good - 4T45E
confirm the lever is moving . attachment
As bill mentioned CODES - is the CEL or service eng light on?
 

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bp042665

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#7
im here to help but you all have suggested what i whould have good job all. i was checking all data and they say it could have the 6 speed also in it they did have a drum issue that could give this problem.can you get us what transmission it has
 

Boomer

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#8
That no REVERSE is not good - 4T45E
confirm the lever is moving . attachment
As bill mentioned CODES - is the CEL or service eng light on?
no Reverse not good.....Meaning what Kev? More or less likely that the Trans is bad?

Like I said, my diagnosis is like yours, from afar. They are assuring me it's not the cable. I don't know that they actually looked at the lever like I suggested. One problem now is, we have arctic air going on making it tough to do much outdoors. It's -2 where I am and 1 degree where they are with the car. They did not report any lights on.
 

Boomer

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#9
im here to help but you all have suggested what i whould have good job all. i was checking all data and they say it could have the 6 speed also in it they did have a drum issue that could give this problem.can you get us what transmission it has
I asked her if the car had 1,2, and D or, 1,2,3 and D. She said just 1,2, and D. Unfortunately that is the best I can do to identify.
 
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#10
I'm curious if you've made any progress. My wife's 2003 Impala 4T65E stopped after 5 minutes of driving and wouldn't go into any gear, including reverse. Had it towed home and was then able to drive it into the garage. Changed all fluid by pouring in new while the old went out the cooler line and filter which had been neglected. A few fine metallic shavings in the filter which I opened up. Was good for a month. Then, some erratic shifting and difficult to go up a steep hill from a stop. Installed a Trans Go shift kit and a bottle of Lubegard. Running fine for about a month. Just thought I'd mention this and hope it helps. If mine gets worse, I'll try the solenoid kit. Expected since it has 280K on it.
 

Boomer

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#11
To the best of my knowledge she just got rid of the car so that is why there haven't been any further updates here. Interesting that you have been able to revive yours at least somewhat. Has it been costly so far?
 
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#12
A little. When I flushed all the fluid out, I used 13 qts of Dex VI @ $5/qt, $15 for the filter. The shift kit was only $30 on ebay, plus another 4 qts of fluid. I siphoned only about 3-4 qts out of the fill tube and I didn't want to re-use what dripped out of the pan. I also replaced the pistons in the accumulator which don't come with the kit although I don't think it was necessary. Those were $30 for the two. And two bottles of Lubegard for $18, using 14 oz of it. So around $178. The local trans shop of course wanted to rebuild @ $1800 - that's with the coupon! Fair price I think but I'm trying to get at least 6 months more. A lot of miles on it but that fluid and filter was in there for many, many miles, maybe half of it was in there the entire 280K. Not sure since we got it at 130K. Looking forward to replacing solenoids ($90). Sure I am.
 

billr

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#13
Did it originally come with Dex6, or was it Dex3? There are some GM vehicles that specifically do not do well if Dex6 is used in place of Dex3. There is a TSB specifying what years/models Dex6 is not suitable for, but I don't have it handy
 
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#14
Yes, saw the TSB and there are exceptions such as 2008 Chevy Aveo and Equinox. Not Impalas. Original fluid was Dex 3 but as I was having problems, I went with the more expensive upgrade. I think there is certainly wear on this transmission but with those problems nearly disappearing like they did, I think there may have been debris somewhere that got flushed out, the fluid was worn out, and/or the filter was getting clogged.