Cavalier Sudden Transmission Failure

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#1
Hello boys and girls, I hope I'm doing this right. .

My car is a 2002 Cavalier Z24 (I believe it's called an LS Sport in the United States, it is still called the Z24 up here in the Great White North ;D). She's my first car and she currently has 140,000 kilometers (thats 87000 miles) and is equipped with the widely-used 4T40E 4-speed automatic transmission.

Last night I drove with very little fuss to a friends house, the car was doing nothing out of the ordinary. A couple hours later, when I decided it was time for me to go home, I turned on the car and threw it into Reverse and noticed my Check Engine Light was lit up, as well as my Traction Control Disabled light. Clearly something was wrong. The lights persisted to stay on even after a quick and desperate shut-off-the-engine-and-start-it-up-again.

I decided to try to go home, since the drive was less than 5 minutes. I took my car out of Reverse once I was out of the driveway, put it in Drive, and pressed lightly on the accelerator. But the car didn't have the usual pep it normally has (not that 140 horsepower is particularly peppy ;)). Accelerating up to speed on the street, I noticed my car refused to downshift. Or upshift. It was stuck in 2nd gear! I had to crawl home in an 80kph zone (50mph) doing 6000rpm. Needless to say my engine was less than happy with me, not to mention the transmission. Manually putting the car in 1, 2, 3, or D all had the same effect. 2nd gear was all she had for me.

The real fun starts this morning. I again forced the car down the street to Canadian Tire to get the codes read; I figured the problem might have been something small that put my car into limp mode, perhaps a worn out spark-plug or something of that nature. Boy was I wrong. The mechanic in-store took a quick drive around the building and instantaneously told me my transmission was the culprit. So much for the limp mode idea. Plugging in the OBD2 scanner told me the following horror story:

P0758 2-3 Shift Solenoid Circuit Electrical
P0753 1-2 Shift Solenoid Circuit Electrical
P1860 TCC PWM Solenoid Circuit Electrical

Of course this was all Chinese to me, but I sure knew it was bad news. 5 minutes later I was given a quote for ~$1800 to rebuild the transmission. That's almost a semester's tuition, my friends. With my head in my hands I again limped my poor Cavalier back home.

And thats how I got here. A quick Google search of these OBD2 codes led me to some interesting information on Technical Service Bulletins regarding the problem. With a huge smile on my face, I read the following two passages:

TSB No. : 030730036 NHTSA No. : 10004381 TSB Date: August 1, 2003 Date Added to File: December 4, 2003
Transmission slips in 4th gear, stuck in 2nd gear or ses/tcs light illuminated, diagnostic trouble codes (dtcs) p0753, p0758, p1860, c1223, c1224 or c1275 may be set.

TSB No. : 280102 NHTSA No. : 629726 TSB Date: January 28, 2002 Date Added to File: April 5, 2002
Information on diagnostic trouble codes p0753, p0758 and p1860.

So it wasn't just my car! This is a documented problem! And what seems even more intriguing, these three engine codes seem to be entirely electrical! Could this mean mechanically, my transmission is fine? I have already started my search for a new 4T40E, fortunately they are not very expensive. I have come to terms with the fact that I'm going to have to part with a nice chunk of my pizza money to fix this transmission of mine, but my curiosity still kills me. Why did my previously well-functioning transmission decide to stop changing gears for me? Would these TSB's have the answer?

Thank you all in advance for any help you can provide, on behalf of me and my poor Cavie!
 
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#2
Check all fuses.
Check for 12 volts on both sides.
On the ones that should be hot with ign on.
Post back what you find.

The codes pertain to electrical ciruit problem.
No power or shorted wiring or bad connection or plugin.
Who ever tryed to sell you a transmission is a rip off type of person. :ROFL
Run from that place and never return.
 
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#3
Here is a good tsb not one of the far out NHTSA made up from a old maid's whirl wind stuff.

PDF below.

[attachment deleted by admin]
 

EricC

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#4
Here are a couple more items to check per a different TSB. I definitely agree with Crunch. This is most likely an electrical concern.

Condition

Some customers may comment on an SES/TCS tell-tale light illuminated, the transmission slipping in 4th gear, or the transmission stuck in second gear. DTCs P0753, P0758, P1860, C1223, C1224 or C1275 may be set.
Cause

There are 2 separate causes that may create the above conditions. Both should be examined when a vehicle is brought in for the above concern.
• Cause #1 is possible water intrusion at the transmission to front end vehicle harness. This harness located near the transmission breakout is protected by plastic split tube type conduit and electrical tape. In some cases, the split may be facing upward which will increase the tendency of the conduit to hold water. Eventually, the #107 splice to the transmission may become corroded and become non-conductive.
• Cause #2 can be quickly identified by a visual inspection under the vehicle at the passenger side of the rear axle. The Evaporative Emissions Canister Vent Solenoid retainer may have come loose allowing the associated wire harness to contact the rear axle. Abrasion of the wire against the rear axle may rub through the insulation creating a short.
 
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#5
Wow, thank you so much for the quick responses!! So its not anything mechanical in my transmission after all! I'm so happy I could cry! Now, lets get down to business. . !

crunch said:
Check all fuses.
Check for 12 volts on both sides.
On the ones that should be hot with ign on.
Post back what you find.
Ok, 'check all fuses' I understand!
Check for 12 volts on both sides? Both sides of what? Help!
By 'hot' do you mean active with ignition on? Like PCM and such?
I'll be sure to post back what I find as soon as I know where to find it! :)
Thanks so much crunch, your too good to me!

As for EricC's suggestion, I will be jacking the car up in a few hours and looking for these two things as soon as I know exactly where to look! Where exactly is a transmission breakout? Will it be obvious as soon as the car is up on jacks? Is it obvious which splice is the #107 splice? I guess I'll just have to get under there and find out the hard way ;)

One more thing I feel I should mention. I called my mechanic buddy (who not-so-conveniently lives a solid hour's drive away from me. . no way I can limp all the way down there!) to ask him what he thought the problem was. About 4 days ago he performed some service on my Cavie, namely a front bushing needed to be replaced on the passenger side, serpentine belt was replaced, spark plugs changed, front calipers serviced, rear drums replaced. He tells me that its possible an ABS sensor was damaged during service and that caused my car to go into limp mode. This completely goes against everything posted in your very-helpful TSB's, so I'm skeptical. Should this ABS sensor of mine be a concern?

My brother will be coming over with his floor jack sometime later on tonight, and I will be sure to keep you guys updated on my first visual inspection! I again thank you VERY much for your continuing support!
 
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#6
Well, I put my car on jackstands and got underneath and started looking for the harness leading to the transmission, and thats when I realized I am in way over my head here. In a couple days I will be towing my car to buddy's mechanic shop and getting him to take a look at it. I'll be printing off both TSB's kindly given to me as I'm sure they'll help out! If anybody has any more information for me before I take the plunge and get this thing fixed that'd be great! I'll also be sharing this information with the J-body (cavalier and sunfire) Club, since this same problem has popped up a few times before! Thanks again for all your help, I'll keep you posted! Wish me luck!
 
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#7
On checking fuses.
Get a volt meter or a bulb type test light.
Find all fuse boxes.
And with ign on.
On the back side of the fuses probe both sides of them on the exposed metal tab part.
And check for 12 volt power going into the fuses that should have 12 volts with ign on and for 12 volts power on the other side.
 
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#8
Well its been quite a while but my lovely Cavalier has been FIXED! Yup, turns out EricC's TSB had the exact answer for me, she works like a charm! All 4 gears work perfectly, if you can believe that! I will be posting this information on the J-body (Cavalier and Sunfire) forums I frequent so as to share the wealth!

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH! What you are doing here is selfless and amazing. I will be name-dropping your website any time somebody mentions a car problem from now on, and I'll help out around the forums (where I can, that is!) Thanks again!!
 
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#9
Well its been quite a while but my lovely Cavalier has been FIXED! Yup, turns out EricC's TSB had the exact answer for me, she works like a charm! All 4 gears work perfectly, if you can believe that! I will be posting this information on the J-body (Cavalier and Sunfire) forums I frequent so as to share the wealth!

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH! What you are doing here is selfless and amazing. I will be name-dropping your website any time somebody mentions a car problem from now on, and I'll help out around the forums (where I can, that is!) Thanks again!!
So what exactly was the problem