December 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm #1495
I have a 1999 Quest which I purchased in Ontario, Canada 3+ years ago with 120,000 kM. We winter in Mexico so I am there now, this is its third trip, usually pretty heavily loaded on the way down, lightly on the way home. It as about 170,000 kM (106,000 miles) now.
On the way down this year I apparently had a front brake caliper fail such that in would not release pressure and ground the entire pad away. I mention that as it might have been an extra load on the tranny. Shortly after we arrived on the south pacific coast, the tranny sort of clunkily shifted to reverse once, and the next day would not reverse at all. I took it to the acknowledged best transmission mechanic here, Tico, and he gave it back a week and US$800 later with reverse working but it no longer shifted into 1st — started in 2nd and shifted to 3rd some — but I can’t really get up to highway speed here so it’s not clear if it could shift into overdrive either. I took it back to Tico and he diagnosed it as the electromechanical control module on the tranny and we got one of those ordered and installed as of today. He now says the problem is not in the tranny or the replaced control module, but it is not getting the correct signals from the transmission computer. He says to tow it 7 hours over the mountains to the capital and it can be fixed there. This seems absurd.
I took it to the local Nissan dealer next. They never sold Quests here but have some info on their computers. They don’t work on automatics and said Tico was the guy to see. They said they can order a new transmission computer at the cost of about US$2500, even more absurd than the towing option.
There is a Ford dealer in a town about 100 kM away on this side of the mountains, I am wondering if they might have the resources to fix it since the Villagers (Merc not Ford, I know) were the same.
Driving it across town it seems OK, reverse works, drive works, driving gently the revs stayed between 1200 and 2400, I think starting in 2nd and going to 3rd and back as needed with no bad noises or jerks.
So…any advice or experience? I don’t want to abandon the car here both because I need to get home later and because it’s a major paperwork issue to leave a guest car here. Also I have family coming in two+ weeks and need a 7 passenger rig to tour them around.
Does anyone know:
1) Can drive it gently ‘as is’ without 1st or 4th without damaging it or losing reverse or drive?
2) Can I get a transmission computer from a US junker (the new part here costs US$2500!) shipped here and have some confidence it will fix the problem?
3) Is it likely a Ford dealer can fix it (is the same tranny used in any Ford-brand product, or can the tranny from a Windstar fit in a Quest?
4) Can I wire up a switch to simply send the missing 1st-gear signal to the tranny on demand, for a few seconds when starting or scaling a steep hill slowly? The wiring harness seems quite simple, wires to each of several solenoid valves which control the shifting, I think.
5) Should I bite the bullet and have it towed across the mountains for like US$800 and fixed there for however much more?
6) Should I ignore the problem and hope it doesn’t leave me stranded somewhere, maybe with my elderly dad and 5 others?
Thanks in advance for any help.December 22, 2011 at 2:58 am #5329
I am sorry for your van. I love mine and I would hate something like that happen to me.
About your questions, based on what you describe, seems that Tico knows something about transmissions but definitely is not the guy that will really fix your transmission. Remember, he already failed in asking you to purchase the electromechanical control module. No offense to Tico. But his expertise, even though the best in that town, is not the best for your van.
I am electrical engineer and I do not see how a mechanical issue would damage the electronic transmission computer unless a short circuit has been made while re-assembling the transmission. I can buy a mechanical failure based on running with the breakes applied.
If there is a Nissan dealer in town, I would ask them to hookup CONSULT to the car’s computer and look for any failure code. If there is none, your issues are not likely to be electronic. My understanding is that the Quest computer has good diagnostics of any sensor or electronics failures. I do not buy on a transmission module failure at 106,000 miles. My van has 175000 miles and I have never had any transmission issues.
Your second alternative, FORD, is also good. Yes, the Villager has the same engine and transmission as our Nissan.
The service manual has a very good diagnostics procedure for the transmission. You need someone that can follow it.
IMHO, your problem is mechanical.
Good Luck.January 4, 2012 at 9:55 am #5344
Hello. I worked for the Nissan factory that produced these transmissions in Decherd, TN. Your problem is more than likely either a cut O-ring on one of your shift solenoids (Located in your control valve which can be accessed from the bottom of the transmission) or a cut/damaged O-ring in your forward clutch piston (also accessed from the outside of the transmission….look for an oval looking piston cover that has 3 screws that holds a plate in place. The piston is located behind the plate.) It could also be the shift solenoid is bad. I read your writeup again and I bet it is the 1-4 solenoid. What I don’t understand is why the problem changed after Tico worked on it. I wonder if his shop possibly damaged the wiring to that solenoid or cut an o-ring when they were working on it. The control valve body has extremely sharpe edges and it is easy to cut an o-ring. It would be interesting to hear what area of the transmission they worked on. I bet the problem would be found there. Irregardless, I’d look in the area of the 1-4 shift solenoid. Closely examine the o-rings on that solenoid and the wiring harness. Good luck.
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