Well, hell. Jeep transmission is toast.

The Jeep’s transmission has been threatening to hydraulically fail for years, to the point where I’ve always assumed the trans would be the thing that permanently parked it. It started out with a tendency to go completely out of forward gear when going up a sharp upgrade while cold; that has degenerated into a refusal to move forward at all while cold. But it all seemed like nothing worn-out clutch seals couldn’t explain, there didn’t appear to be anything mechanical wrong with it…

Until yesterday morning when all hell broke loose.


I drove to and from D&L’s as normal and everything was just fine until I tried to back the Jeep into its regular parking slot. There was a loud clunk and a rasping whirring noise accompanied by no rearward movement at all.

I had a lunch date with D&L at noon, and that’s when I learned – not to my surprise – that the Jeep wasn’t really crazy about going forward, either. It moves but with a distinct lack of power. I seriously wondered if it would make it up D&L’s mild upgrade and I’m not at all confident that it will make it to town, so I need somebody to follow/tow me to the shop.

D&L graciously loaned me their Jeep again…


…though with quite a few new caveats and addenda, and Tobie is explicitly and officially forbidden to ride in it. Not a long-term solution.


The yellow Jeep is for the moment parked on D&L’s plaza and really needs to go to town this weekend; I’ll work on arrangements today. I’m at the shop’s mercy as to what a used or rebuilt transmission will cost, and I may almost certainly will cry out for financial help when I have an estimate. I have some money in the bank, but it definitely won’t be enough.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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13 Responses to Well, hell. Jeep transmission is toast.

  1. Ben says:

    On the bright side, that transmission gave you how many years of warning since the first symptoms appeared? At least, you had plenty of time to mentally prepare. 😀

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just say the word when you get the estimate. Can’t have you and Tobie out of a ride!

  3. coloradohermit says:

    Not anonymous, just pushed wrong buttons.

  4. Claire says:

    Amen to what coloradohermit says. We all know how much you hate asking for money, but we also all know how vital that Jeep is to you. Let us know what you need.

  5. bobbookworm says:

    re: tow/follow…e-mail incoming.

  6. You let us know how much. We’ll get you there.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Also, can we get an estimate to fix the gear shift on D&L’s Jeep. It bothers me too.

  8. Joel says:

    Also, can we get an estimate to fix the gear shift on D&L’s Jeep.

    That’s actually a really good idea, Anon. But since it would involve taking it to the big town about 50 miles away for repair it would be a lot more complicated.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Even still, how much?

  10. I know you said that the tranny had been giving you warnings – but I find myself wondering if there could be any relationship between this and your last breakdown. The yoke did slide out of the tranny when that u-joint failed – right? I’d assume you lost either fluid or oil when that happened. Did that get checked and topped off once it was put back together?

    And verified…

  11. Joel says:

    Sliding the driveshaft out the rear of a transmission doesn’t cause fluid loss – but yes, I did check the fluid level recently and that didn’t cause the problem. Though I’m open to the possibility that the same bat-out-of-hell driving incident that broke a u-joint bracket and a shock mount may have also caused a mechanical failure in the transmission that took a month to manifest.

  12. “Sliding the driveshaft out the rear of a transmission doesn’t cause fluid loss…”

    Is that just w/ automatic transmissions? I’ve only changed out one transmission but I thought that I remembered some gear oil loss when I tipped it back when lowering it. That was years ago – a tiny little popcorn popper transmission from an early Ford Falcon – 3 sp. manual.

    Anyway – I was just wondering about that based on what may likely be a faulty recollection. A follow-on question if you don’t mind… so is the rear seal on the tranny more to keep stuff out than in? With that Falcon tranny I recall a spring re-enforced rubber seal that if riding on an unworn yoke would be sufficient to hold back a thick oil. Not trying to argue – just trying to jibe my recollections with what you’d said.

  13. Joel says:

    Yeah – I was referring only to automatic transmissions, which I must admit are the only transmissions with which I have professional experience. Manuals may be completely different; GM dealerships didn’t offer much experience with them.

To the stake with the heretic!