94 Pontiac Sunbird Tranny issue

Home  \  Repairs & Maintenance  \  94 Pontiac Sunbird Tranny issue

Hello. I have just had a rough night, as my 94 Pontiac Sunbird appears to be having some major tranny issues. I took it to two seperate shops this AM and both said it needed a new or rebuilt tranny to the tune of 1300 to 1500. Neither place drove it, and one place only lsitened to my problem, never looked at the car. After, doing some reading on the subject, I wonder if it does need a new one or if there is just part(s) that ar failing. Let me give you the low down. 1994 Pontiac Sunbird, 3.1L V6, 133,000, AT.

It turns over fine, but doesn't shift into reverse. Eventually it will clunk into reverse and jerk back. It starts in drive as if it were in second, and I beleive it is becasue if I put it in first, it doesn't budge. If I put it in drive, it runs fine, just real slow, as if it were in a higher gear. Although when I come to a stop I hear some clunking from the front of the car, sometimes it will drop into first then. The one shop took it to, moved throught the gears and said one of the clutch packs was locked up which meant a new or rebuilt tranny. My questions are:

1) Does this diagnosis sound right? Is it the whole tranny, not just parts.

2) One shop said they could put a "junkyard" tranny in for about 900. Does this sound like a good idea. He said with the car at that many miles, he would go for the junk tranny and hope for the best. Didn't make me feel better, but is there anyway to tell how much life you could get from a junkyard tranny.

3) The car is in decent shape. It had a distributer cap that was removed by a previous owner and the seal leaked. Dealer fixed that and it now only leaks leaks a little oil (1/4 quart / 3000miles) but the dealer said that it wouldn't be worth the expense to fix, just keep and eye on it. No other major problems with the car, although it was in a accident, front end, that's all I know, before I got it. Is 1300 worth it? Some one told me that these J-type cars are just problem after problem after about 125,000. Any truth to that. I take good care of it and would love to see it go 150,000.

4) Is a tranny overhaul something I, a weekend warrior, could take on. Looking at some basic tranny manuals, it look pretty complicted, although I'd be willing to give it a shot if I thought it had a success rate.

Any help would be great. Have a good one all.


posted by  camaro2727

There's good reason why shops dont rebuild at's there a pain in the ass....
If it was me I'd start looking for another car; that 1500 for the trasmission is more than the cars prolly worth
and junkyard transmission are normally a bad idea

posted by  Pieface

I would look in junkyards for a used transmission yourself ( assuming you have transportation) and perhaps install it myself or ask what just installation is on the repair. dont let them be the middle man if you have time to research finding the part yourself.

Doing it yourself... well I dont have a picture of a sunbird in my head. I assume it is 4 cylinder transverse engine mount. Ok, well check your manual for the model. Likely you will have to remove the cv joints, disconect the radiator and all electrical connectors, take out the engine and tranmission from the mounting arms and take them out together. Unbolt the transmission and put the new one on. and then put them both together and put them back in. I have actually been involved in doing this without an engine hoist by raising the whole car 4 feet up off the ground and lowering it down with a large jack but I dont believe this is how you are supposed to do it.

In general I would say this is advanced mechanic stuff but quite possible. It is much easier in a truck.

Ya that sounds like its about shot in my opinion. make sure the cooling line to the transmission is not clogged... maybe change the fluid, then give up on it.

You can try adjusting the bands they will usually be hex bolts on the side of the transmission one for each forward gear ( for instance, there are likely 3)

rebuilding automatic transmissions isnt usually done

[edit] reread and this must be a different car than I am thinking of. If its a v6 it miust have the engine mounted regularly. In this case you can definitely get it out from the bottom and leave the engine in. Id need to look at the manual Im thinking a sunbird is a cavalier correct? there are a lot of different things about that model by year[edit]

posted by  stamar

Weekend warrior rebuilding a tranny? :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: . Look man your best bet would just be to buy another car. I know the subird is a pretty cheap car, just go get another one or a corisca or something. You could try getting a junkyard trany(wich could actually work). But I would'nt pay a shop 900 to put it on, I'd do it myself.... assuming you have some sort of Mechanical knowledge and can bolt on another tranny(theres other things that must be done, but w.e.).

Yeah rebuilding a tranny, even while looking at a manual, will just give you have a bad headache. Especially when you pull the damn case off and some stuff falls out(that you've never seen in your life) and a few things roll under your garage bench(the one thats to heavy to move and to damn low to look under but just tall enough for tiny objects to lodge themselves in the dark crevices :cussing: ) and you're stuck looking at a family of gears and parts on the floor that you have no idea where they go or if god himself just made them magically appear there :laughing: . Leave the tranny building to the pros, TRUST ME..

posted by  DSMer

Your Message