Volvo S40 The S40 is Volvo's most affordable sedan with all the amenities of a luxury sports car.

03 1.9t transmission slipping

  #1  
Old 01-21-2019, 05:16 AM
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Default 03 1.9t transmission slipping

Had some really bad weather yesterday and it got really cold. Coldest it's ever been since we owned this car. I have no idea if the cold would have any affect on the car but that's the only thing that was different than any other day. Was sitting at a stop light and when it turned green the car just revved like it was in neutral. After a minute of sitting there i got it to go for a little bit and somehow we made it to a parking lot and sat for a while researching on my phone. Then I started it back up again and it moved. It got me a few more miles before starting to slip again and eventually I had to pull off. It seemed that turning the car off for a minute helped. The car barely got me home. I have yet to check the ATF fluid but I will update when I do.
 
  #2  
Old 01-21-2019, 12:11 PM
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One of two things are happening...

1) There is a serious mechanical failure in the power-transmitting portion of the transmission (torque converter, first gear clutch pack, etc.) that is slipping in a mechanical sense. If this is the case, you probably noticed it doing this before it failed entirely, and you will probably be able to cause it to slip WHILE IN GEAR (move the gear selector to manual, select a gear, and hear the engine rev up without a corresponding increase in speed).
2) The car acts like it's in neutral, but then when it finally does engage, it shifts solidly without any unusual "slippage" while in any particular gear (with an automatic transmission, you CAN increase the RPMs because the engine is decoupled from the transmission via the torque converter).

I'm betting it's a #2 scenario, and my money would be on there being a problem with a shift solenoid. That's more likely if you haven't regularly changed the transmission fluid, and it's dirty and/or low. Of course, it's kind of hard to even check since Volvo managed to put the transmission dipstick where it's nearly inaccessible (why oh why did you do that, Volvo?). Replacing the shift solenoids isn't a huge job if you're a handy DIY kind of person, or shouldn't cost TOO much if you have to farm it out to a shop.

If it was my car, I'd do a transmission fluid drain and fill first. That involves buying four quarts of fluid, draining the fluid and pouring four quarts back in (I use a long, skinny funnel and fill through the dipstick tube). This might help the transmission's problems, but will also give you a good look at the magnet on the drain plug. If it's got obvious metal bits stuck to it... you should start looking for a replacement tranny (or vehicle). If it's just got the normal coating of black sludge, then it just reinforces that the problem is a "control problem" that's probably fixable without spending TOO much money or time.
 
  #3  
Old 01-21-2019, 01:12 PM
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Thanks for the response. There was absolutely no warning that this was gonna happen. It was driving fine and then out of nowhere it started acting up. My first thought was to check the ATF fluid. But it was practically a blizzard and when I popped the hood and saw the dipstick was basically under the engine I just said screw that. I am definitely going to check the fluid before attempting to drive it again. How does one access the soloniods?
 
  #4  
Old 01-21-2019, 02:44 PM
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Yeah, it's a LOT tougher to do than it ought to be to check that fluid. Really, I find it easiest to do it from under the car (probably not an option for you on the snow-covered roadside, huh?). ;-)

I looked all over for a video about changing the solenoids - couldn't find anything so I made one. Not a pro video, but it will show you what you need to do to get to the solenoids. IIRC, a full set of Rostra (good quality) replacement solenoids was under $100 delivered. That means it's probably not worth trying to clean the old ones up (since you'd be doing the job twice if it didn't work).

 
  #5  
Old 01-21-2019, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by habbyguy View Post
Yeah, it's a LOT tougher to do than it ought to be to check that fluid. Really, I find it easiest to do it from under the car (probably not an option for you on the snow-covered roadside, huh?). ;-)

I looked all over for a video about changing the solenoids - couldn't find anything so I made one. Not a pro video, but it will show you what you need to do to get to the solenoids. IIRC, a full set of Rostra (good quality) replacement solenoids was under $100 delivered. That means it's probably not worth trying to clean the old ones up (since you'd be doing the job twice if it didn't work).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5aPOIw1cGo&t=0s
QUOT
​​​
I appreciate that! It'll be in the 40s on Wednesday so I'm gonna check the car then and I will report back with my findings. Considering getting a new car at this point however, it hasn't been as reliable as I hoped and the gf is ready for a new car anyway. Got her through a couple years I guess!
 
  #6  
Old 01-22-2019, 09:49 AM
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One other question - did the "slippage" when you were driving (after re-starting) always occur from a dead stop (or when in 1st gear), or did it happen at other times and speeds?

In the end, working on a car that you're getting rid of can be difficult, but it's hard to beat the economics of it. If you want to sell a 2003 S40 with a transmission that won't allow a real test drive, you'll be doing good to cover lunch with the price you'll get. ;-) But if you can spend a couple hours and a few bucks to return it to sellable condition, you'll reward yourself handsomely for the effort. OTOH, if you don't have a garage to work in, you have to figure in the cost of frostbite treatment... ;-)

 
  #7  
Old 01-22-2019, 12:05 PM
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Any other symptoms or clues ie flashing Tracs light, check engine light on? what happens when you press W to go into Winter/Wet mode? Does it start properly in 2nd gear and do you also feel slippage? How about if you drop down into Lo via the shifter to force start in 1st? Have you used an OBD2 scanner capable of viewing transmission codes to see if anything has been set? I agree with habby that first step is to check fluid level/color and if you have a garage to consider a drain/fill. Just check the owners manual (available online as well) to confirm what spec fluid - I believe the 5 speed autos use JWS3309 spec (the 4 speed autos are different). when you pop the dip stick, wipe on a white paper towel or cloth to see the color - if black and smells burnt, then you want to drop the pan and inspect for bits. If brown/red, that's good, if brownish/black do the drain fill. Make sure you read up on how to properly check transmission levels - there's two marks for warm and cold and you want to use the proper warm up cycle when measuring warm.
 
  #8  
Old 01-22-2019, 04:19 PM
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Slippage occured at all speeds. I first noticed at a stop light when I tried to go. It wouldn't move. Tried manually selecting 1st. Nothing. Put in park turned off. Restarted. Nothing. Sat for a minute, repeated, and it moved, got to a parking lot. Then I continued down the road trying to keep a steady speed, seemed to struggle less at higher speeds, probably mostly due to momentum. But as I drove at a constant speed it would drove fine, slip and rev up, catch again and return to normal cruising RPM, and continually repeat that for a while. But it seemed that turning it off for a minute helped. At first the yellow "up" arrow (I assume that's the Trac light?) Wasn't on. Tried "W" mode didn't make a difference. But after a while the yellow arrow did begin flashing. Check engine light was already on so I can't say whether or not anything new is there. I will take it somewhere to read the codes when I work up enough courage to take it on the street again
 
  #9  
Old 01-22-2019, 04:21 PM
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I saw somewhere that cold weather can affect ATF? Make it contract or something. I don't know if that's true or not? It was close to 0 F
 
  #10  
Old 01-22-2019, 08:02 PM
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You could always buy a cheap OBD reader, or better yet (if you have a droid phone) get the Torque Pro app, and an OBD Bluetooth dongle to talk to your phone. Gives you all the functionality of a high-end OBD reader plus a LOT more (I set mine up as a digital instrument panel when I do road trips, monitoring lots of vital engine info, including vacuum, spark advance, temps, rpms, relative throttle position, and even altitude. For a total outlay of about $20, you can't beat it! There are other similar options for non-droid phones (but they probably cost more, particularly if you have an iPhone).
 
  #11  
Old 01-23-2019, 12:43 PM
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Ok guys I checked the ATF. Level is fine. But i do believe it is more of a brown color than a red color. The car has 127k miles. Is it normal for the ATF to get a bit dirty and need replacing after that many miles? Or is there some big issue going on in there. I think I'll attempt an ATF change but I don't want to change it and forget about it if there could be something else horrible waiting to happen. Also the yellow arrow is still blinking constantly.
 
  #12  
Old 01-23-2019, 12:57 PM
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Yes its normal for the fluid to turn brownish after 125K miles. As to your concern with the ATF drain/fill, the horrible has already happened so there's no real downside other than the cost of the servicing. I did see some other posts on this problem and most recommend changing the fluid and scanning for DTC codes as a first step. After that, some suggest the transmission has internal issues and needs a rebuild/replace, others suggest it could be the TCM unit - which can be swapped out for a used unit to see if that makes a difference. Did you have a diagnostic scan done for any codes?
 
  #13  
Old 01-23-2019, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by mt6127 View Post
Yes its normal for the fluid to turn brownish after 125K miles. As to your concern with the ATF drain/fill, the horrible has already happened so there's no real downside other than the cost of the servicing. I did see some other posts on this problem and most recommend changing the fluid and scanning for DTC codes as a first step. After that, some suggest the transmission has internal issues and needs a rebuild/replace, others suggest it could be the TCM unit - which can be swapped out for a used unit to see if that makes a difference. Did you have a diagnostic scan done for any codes?
Just got back from advance Auto. Got a p0700 and p0730 code. Car had zero issues getting me there and back however, except that it is stuck in winter mode. Called my mechanic, a Volvo specialist, and he said it will be stuck in winter mode till the codes are cleared. He also recommended the transmission flush and thinks that could fix the issue. He also said they'll check the solonoids by hooking them up the the computer and confirming each one clicks.
 
  #14  
Old 01-24-2019, 10:31 AM
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Yes, I agree entirely with what MT6127 said above. There's no (!) downside to doing a drain/fill. Keep in mind that doing this will replace less than half the transmission fluid though, so it's best to do multiple drain/fills so the vast majority of the fluid is replaced. IPD makes a kit (not sure there's one for this car, but I used one on my 2001 V70) that hooks up to your tranny cooler and allows you to pump out the old fluid directly (rather than just draining it). A little more fiddly, but could be well worth the effort - basically, you pump out two quarts, pour in two quarts, and repeat until you're getting "new fluid" out.

A note on tranny fluid drain/fills. It's about as simple a job as you could ever imagine. You just pull the drain plug, and let it run until it's a slow drip, put the drain plug back in (after checking the magnet for metal bits) and pour in four quarts of CORRECT fluid (make sure!) fluid, which is done easily by using a $3 extension funnel via the tranny dipstick tube. Leave the splash panel off and do this 2-3 times... each is easier than an oil change (by far, given the fiddliness of getting our oil filters out). ;-)

It does sound like your mechanic knows what he's talking about. The only "risk" is that he'll get clicks out of solenoids that are operating intermittently. But even so, a few drain/fills may well fix your issues, and replacing the solenoids really isn't a huge or expensive job.
 
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Old 01-28-2019, 08:54 PM
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We'll the transmission has been flushed and it's been a few days. Zero issues so far and the dash lights have not returned
 
  #16  
Old 01-29-2019, 11:12 AM
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I just love a happy ending! ;-)
 
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