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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:16 pm 
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Year and Trim: 1990 LE
Hey guys,
My Bonne, a 1990 LE doesn't like to drive in 4th gear when it's cold out. Seeing as we had a classic New England winter this year, that's been most of winter time. Maybe 4th gear is now a snowbird and took a vacation to Florida for the winter. :wink: When I say cold out, I mean below freezing I would approximate it won't drive in 4th. Basically, I've taken three hour road trips with it and, it's driven in the 3rd overdrive the entire way. So here's my questions:

Any ideas as to why my Bonneville isn't liking 4th gear when cold?
Is it bad to be driving such distances in overdrive?

Thanks for any help or suggestions you might have!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:58 am 
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My car had a similar problem. It ended up being that the 4th gear clutch was dragging and it heated up and destroyed the whole 4th gear assembly. The tranny was trying to shift into 4th, but there was no cluth to engage it. Hopefully this hasnt happened to you...

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"-@--------@--" 1990 SSE " Black Ice " 215,456+ kms,

16" Streetwear Diablo wheels | FWI | Magnaflow cat | '94 top swap | MSD Ignition | Projector Retrofit w/ HIDs | Modded Mesh Grille | STB | Blue interior LEDs | LED 3rd brake light | Dynamat | Woodgrain delete | JVC NX-5000 nav/dvd | Infinity 1230W
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:21 am 
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Location: Dekalb Il
Year and Trim: 96 olds cutlass supreme 4 door
it never goes into fourth at all ?

wellp there goes my idea of the trans just being cold....run a scan if you can..see what pops up..could be alot of things

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:headbang:LUCAS Image Member # 534.
96 olds cutlass supreme SL 4 door 3100 4t60 *3.33 gears* *Fe1* 115K bone stock DD
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:27 am 
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Surprisingly, it does go into fourth gear sometimes. It is seemingly only when the weather outside is warm enough. Just last week, the temperature warmed up outside, to say 45º or so, and my car drove happily along in fourth gear. Maybe my car is telling me something about this long winter...


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:33 am 
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Location: Dekalb Il
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in my experience...if its to cold out and the trans isnt hot enough or if the motor is warming up
generally speaking most vehicles wont allow it to go into 4th or overdrive if its to cold

keep an eye on it...only drive it if you absolutely need to...then after it warms up more..take a look at it...chances are though im guessing by the time that it warms up out..it will work it self out ;)

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:headbang:LUCAS Image Member # 534.
96 olds cutlass supreme SL 4 door 3100 4t60 *3.33 gears* *Fe1* 115K bone stock DD
Wake asked SSEiman01 wrote:
why in the the world do you have or need Vaseline in your trunk??!!..well Leather cleans easy..


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:37 am 
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Where is the engine temp when it does this. Usually the temp only keeps the TC from locking up. Do you have a tach in the dash? When the engine is warmed up, do the TC test. Hold a constant spee, like 50mph and tap the brake while holding the constant speed and see if the RPM's go up.

Also, while travelling at 50 or 55 mph, manually downshift the lever from overdrive to drive (3rd gear).

Do you have a check engine light?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:43 pm 
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Myfirstbonne: The engine temperature rarely moves anywhere more than a little from the left extreme during the winter time. During the summer, in stop and go traffic, I've seen the needle about halfway in the middle. I think the numbers are 100º all the way to the left and 260º would be to the right.

I like where you're going with the torque converter. The car does have a tach. I can tell that the TC is not locked up when exhibiting the problem of "not being in fourth gear" because any slight pressing of the gas sends the motor reving 500 RPMs higher at least whereas if it was locked up in 4th, that would be impossible.

@ 50mph (just where 4th gear will engage on my car), it normally is going just north of 1500 RPMs. With this problem, 50mph is just south of 2000 RPMs. Putting the car into Drive, instead of overdrive does shoot it into 3rd gear.

Also, my check engine light has been going on and off for over a year now. The mechanic hasn't found any codes when he's scanned it the last few times it's been in the shop so because the check engine light goes on and off so he's problem scanning it while off.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:54 pm 
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When was the last time the thermostat was changed? The temp gages are not linear, so you can't really tag any temps to them other than too hot. It does seem that the temp should come up a little higher than that. Does the heater warm up pretty good or just so,so?

Pressing of the gas pedal should not unlock the TC unless you are going more than half way and commanding a downshift by way of the TV cable to the tranny. If you do the brake test it will tell you if the tTC lock up is working. The engine also has to be up to temp for the TC to lock up.

What I am thinking is that you are not reaching temp and the TC is not locking up and you are thinking it is in 3rd when it is actually in 4th without TC lock up.

Edit: Coolant temp should be above 65 degrees F

As for the codes, you can read them yourself. Here is the proceedure from tech info. See if there are any stored codes.

http://www.pontiacbonnevilleclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=8689

and the definitions of the codes:

http://www.pontiacbonnevilleclub.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=1624


Last edited by myfirstbonnie on Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:05 pm 
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Well I've had the car for nearly six years and I can't remember the thermostat ever having been changed. I'll have to check my records when I get home tonight. You nailed it though, since the heater has not been getting as warm or warm as quickly, lately.

I think you are absolutely right about it just not the TC just not being locked up, albeit in 4th gear, not 3rd like I thought before. You're good! What can I say?

I'll look into changing the thermostat then...is it something that's a PITA to swap out?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:07 pm 
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Location: Dekalb Il
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T stats relatively easy... and cheap :banana:

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96 olds cutlass supreme SL 4 door 3100 4t60 *3.33 gears* *Fe1* 115K bone stock DD
Wake asked SSEiman01 wrote:
why in the the world do you have or need Vaseline in your trunk??!!..well Leather cleans easy..


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:24 pm 
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Cheap is the word I wanted to hear! haha I guess the only thing I'd be worried about, is in the past, small, "relatively easy" projects, become a relative cluster !@#$ pretty quickly since the car is so old. Things are frozen in place and frequently don't like to come off on my car. We'll see. Thanks again guys for all your help with this one!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:48 pm 
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On these cars you need to be above 150-155F coolant temp before you will ever hit TCC lock up..

Change the Thermostat and see what it does..


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:36 pm 
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I installed the new thermostat today and, problems solved! The car comes up to temperature now and the TC locks right up, and in addition, the heat works much better now to boot.

Just wanted to take the time to thank everyone for your diagnostic help, figuring out what the problem was! Thank you again.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:16 am 
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no problem..thats what were hear for glad to hear you got it fixed :beerchug:

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:headbang:LUCAS Image Member # 534.
96 olds cutlass supreme SL 4 door 3100 4t60 *3.33 gears* *Fe1* 115K bone stock DD
Wake asked SSEiman01 wrote:
why in the the world do you have or need Vaseline in your trunk??!!..well Leather cleans easy..


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:36 am 
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Make sure to mark the post with the solution so we can see this post has been solved. Thanks, and your welcome for the help. Have a nice ride.


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