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automatic transmission woes.....


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go to drive the car away and the transmission won't go into gear! The shift will move but nothing happens when you put it in gear. It feels like there is nothing there: no detents, no movement or sounds. Almost like the cable is broken. Any ideas?? thanks in advance

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to do list :

check fluid level while engine at idle speed,

HOT, in PARK, on level ground

check if the shifter is connected to the transmission

check if the throttle linkage/automatic control cable is

connected and adjusted correctly did this car have

any noises leading up to this condition? -

or the shifter acting stiff or irratic

leading up to this condition?







. . . . . and :

always start your automatic diagnosis with a

fluid "smell" and level check. Check level

when HOT on level ground, and "smell" should

NOT be like a burnt electrical motor smell -

just rosy clean ATF oil smelling. If the "smell"

is like burnt electrical motor, blackened, your

likely toast. Then check control linkage and

cable adjustments and functions. Drop the

oil pan and clean the metal screen, and try

new ATF and you might get lucky.

.....oh and make sure your coolent is 'clear' with no ATF

mixing with it from a failed radiator/ATF cooler


..........so what have you found thus far ?

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there was a clicking sound that didn't seem to change with RPM that I noticed that day. I don't drive this car very often and use it for emergencies or the odd day here and there. The shifter's detent(s) have been off a slight bit from the letters on the display. Other than that I haven't noticed anything different than when I have driven the car in the past.

The shifter does lock into park but you can't find any other gear or detent when going through the motions. The oil level looks okay with the car running and in P. I will have to get under it and see if the mechanism has come loose for some reason. Thanks for the posting.

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Even though the tranny fluid is not warmed up, or circulated, you can still get an approximate idea on the dip stick. If you see the fluid level up near the top mark when it's cold then fluid level is not the problem. It may, in fact, be that your tranny has failed and needs a re-build. How many miles are on it?

Bob Napier

' 75 Automatic

' 76 Automatic


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1. If the shifter position didn't correspond to the letters on the display, it's possible that the linkage is either worn or out of adjustment--and one of the clevis pins might have now fallen out or the rod that connects the shifter to the tranny has somehow broken. That's the first thing I'd check 'cause it's an easy fix.

2. If it turns out that the tranny has died, you have a perfect candidate for a 5 speed conversion, as the automatics have a wider tranny tunnel than the stick shift cars--plenty of room for the 5 speed clutch slave cylinder. Lotsa info on the conversion--check the archives.

Hope it's the former, but consider the latter.



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I already have all the stuff to do a 5 spd swap. I just don't need it to be right now that he swap needs to take place! I am thinking that it is a loose linkage problem more than an oil issue. Just by the way the shifter feels when you go to change gears. Might be able to get to the car today (35kms away from my house). Lucky it warmed up here and all the snow melted!!

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