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'85 Automatic not shifting, can't go more than 30 mph!

avp0713

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Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
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1985 Silver Greenwood
I'm almost at my wits end.

Preface:
1. I've owned this '85 since '88.
2. It has sat dormant from '99 till July 2011
3. I've given the car to my 17 y/o son to use locally here on the Jersey Shore, he is a responsible intelligent type, not a wild kid always pushing his luck type.

Every night I take the car out on the local secondary highway (rt. 70) and I get it up to speed just to make sure everything is ok and safe. Aside from some adversity in shifting points, it was running very strong.

Last week, I took it to the garage to have an inline fuse put in for the Audio Amplifier. Once installed I drove the car 2 blocks down to pick up a foglight bulb. After buying the bulb, I backed up, pulled out onto the road and the car started backfiring, coughing, sputtering. . . I just rolled right back into the garage. They looked it over, checked for spark, took off the distributor, checked the wires, and took it for a run... it ran ok. Since the garage was closing time, I chanced a drive back home (6 miles)... Got half way home and the car's backfiring again. I pulled over, turned it off, waited a minute, then resumed my trip home. I made it home, just as it was starting to backfire again.

Next morning, took it to a closer garage, they replaced the fuel pump and installed a bung in my Hedman Hedders and connected my o2 sensor. They said you better get your gas tank replaced or cleaned because there's gunk/rust in there and you'll have the same result of a ruined gas pump.

I drove the car home, to park and wait for my newly ordered gas tank. On the way home I noticed the car would not shift! I cannot go more than approx. 30 mph. I tried "jabbing" the gas pedal with the hopes of "unsticking" any linkage, but that didn't help. I have not checked the Transmission Fluid yet.

So in the last Month:
1. replaced Fuel Pump and installed o2 sensor = $300
2. purchased almost new fuel tank from ebay = $175
3. Remove and Replace old/new fuel tank will cost approx. $200 (at the cheapest sidewalk mechanic)

The car was shifting pretty good before the o2 sensor, now that it is in (due to pressure from everybody about not having it in) it is not shifting. What's going on here? Whats next?

Tony
Brick, NJ
 

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Hib Halverson

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No doubt, the car sitting for 15 years and you're going to let your son drive it, means you've got a lot of work to do to make sure it's safe and reliable.

The problem with no shifts is not related to your oxygen sensor, it's a problem with the transmission. That long a period of non-operation can affect a transmission in a number of ways. You mentioned you hadn't checked the trans yet. Hopefully, it has adequate fluid because, if fluid level is why the trans won't shift, you might be heading for a new transmission if, due to lack of fluid, the trans overheated. I'd check the fluid before you drive it any more. The trans needs to be at operating temp before you check it.

If you're not an experienced DIY, I'd take the car to a transmission service shop and have them determine the problem causing the no-shift condition and make repairs.

If you're a DIY, I'd start with the factory service manual and any trouble shooting info it might have related to a transmission no shift problem.

Does this trans not shift regardless of range? That is, if you put it in first gear and manually shift to second will it shift but when left in drive, it won't?

As for your gunky gas tank, you'd better fix that then flush the fuel system and clean the injectors before you turn it over to your 17-year old or he's going to soon be calling you from the middle of nowhere after breaking down. In fact, the less you drive the car with the dirty tank the better.
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 automatic not shifting. . .

No doubt, the car sitting for 15 years and you're going to let your son drive it, means you've got a lot of work to do to make sure it's safe and reliable.

I have been driving/checking the car every night for the past 2 months, it's been driving strong. New injectors, new (used) fuel rail, new tires, new rotors and pads, new shocks, all interior/exterior lights working, new headlight motors, new hood lifts, new plugs and wires, new distributor, Lucas Oil steering fluid, trans fluid level ok.

The problem with no shifts is not related to your oxygen sensor, it's a problem with the transmission. That long a period of non-operation can affect a transmission in a number of ways. You mentioned you hadn't checked the trans yet. Hopefully, it has adequate fluid because, if fluid level is why the trans won't shift, you might be heading for a new transmission if, due to lack of fluid, the trans overheated. I'd check the fluid before you drive it any more. The trans needs to be at operating temp before you check it.

If you're not an experienced DIY, I'd take the car to a transmission service shop and have them determine the problem causing the no-shift condition and make repairs.

If you're a DIY, I'd start with the factory service manual and any trouble shooting info it might have related to a transmission no shift problem.

While test driving the car each night, the only problem I saw with shifting was the RPM's would get rather high before going into 2nd gear only, (25-30 mph) near 2500 rpm. Beyond that, no problem. This is how the car was operating from September 1st to November 15th. When I brought the car in to get a fuel pump, fuel filter and Bung and o2 sensor installed, I felt the car should have been driving fine. I had planned to drive the car home and park it, until the new gas tank arrived. However, on the way home I could not get the car to shift and so I didn't want to push the car past 30 mph.



Does this trans not shift regardless of range? That is, if you put it in first gear and manually shift to second will it shift but when left in drive, it won't?

I think I may have tried manually shifting and that may have worked. But as you said, when left in drive, it wouldn't automatically shift.


As for your gunky gas tank, you'd better fix that then flush the fuel system and clean the injectors before you turn it over to your 17-year old or he's going to soon be calling you from the middle of nowhere after breaking down. In fact, the less you drive the car with the dirty tank the better.

I have purchased an almost new gas tank on eBay; it won't arrive till December 5th. Until that time the car will sit. I had fully planned to use "THE WORKS" to scrub out the tank (without dropping the tank), but changed my mind when I saw the condition of this tank on eBay, it looks to be nearly new.

I almost have a suspicion that the Overdrive relay (on the firewall between the Wiper motor and the Brake Booster) is the culprit. Is that feasible? Or perhaps there is some transmission linkage bindup?

Tony
Brick, NJ
 

68 4 spd

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il
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68 conv 84 coupe 91 conv 13 GS Coupe
if the car wont upshift you could have a stuck kick down cable "TV" cable also if the engine is performing poorly it may not have enough power to bring the transmission line pressure up enough to enable shifting if the car sat that long a trans fluid and filter change is in order cheap insurance fresh fluid will be better for the seals and internals clutches and bands
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting. .

if the car wont upshift you could have a stuck kick down cable "TV" cable also if the engine is performing poorly it may not have enough power to bring the transmission line pressure up enough to enable shifting if the car sat that long a trans fluid and filter change is in order cheap insurance fresh fluid will be better for the seals and internals clutches and bands

For the last 2 months the car has been upshifting and downshifting, pretty well, just a high RPM on the first upshift, from 25mph to 30mph, it's been reving up to about 2500rpm.

3 weeks ago I brought the car to a mechanic to take off the front centerpiece of the greenwood spoiler and asked him to change the transmission filter. He took a look at the Trans fluid and said... "hey... your trans fluid looks fine are you sure you want to flush this?" at that point he seemed to infer that it should be fine. After hearing that "diagnosis" I attributed the high revving first shift to some type of adjustment.

I'm beginning to think maybe the kickdown cable (as you called it) is stuck? The engine has plenty of power, I just don't want to rev the car past 3000 or so to make it shift.
 

John Robinson

Gone but not forgotten
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Messages
1,555
Location
Muncie, Indiana
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1993 Polo Green Coupe
The shift problem sounds to me like an adjustment of the TV cable is the culprit. On my 93 if the cable is to tight the up-shifts are are very high and harsh.

You might try calling the transmission shops in your area and ask if they know how to adjust the TV cable. When you find one that does then while there they can check the transmission for any other issues but I am guessing it won't have any. The transmission in your car is not a Corvette only model it is was used in passenger cars and pick ups and delivery vans etc. In other words it was produced in the millions and was a work horse dependable unit.
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting. .

The shift problem sounds to me like an adjustment of the TV cable is the culprit. On my 93 if the cable is to tight the up-shifts are are very high and harsh.

You might try calling the transmission shops in your area and ask if they know how to adjust the TV cable. When you find one that does then while there they can check the transmission for any other issues but I am guessing it won't have any. The transmission in your car is not a Corvette only model it is was used in passenger cars and pick ups and delivery vans etc. In other words it was produced in the millions and was a work horse dependable unit.

You just reminded me of something!

2 Weeks ago, my son alerted me that the car would still roll when he put it in park!! I don't mean roll 5 inches... I mean you could push it as far as you'd like. I took it to the garage, and they put it on a lift and adjusted a cable. It now solidly goes into park, but is that the "TV" cable that was adjusted? Perhaps so.

I will take it to a trans shop and have it looked at, thanks for the suggestion. Hopefully its a minor adjustment.

Tony
Brick, NJ
 

John Robinson

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1,555
Location
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1993 Polo Green Coupe
That was probably the shift linkage that they adjusted from the shift lever to the transmission. What I am talking about is the cable that controls the shift points. I believe if you look at the top of the engine were the throttle cable pulls on the butterfly there is another cable that runs back to the transmission. That cable controls the shift points based on the position of the throttle opening. The transmission you have has its shift points controlled by that cable and if it is not adjusted properly the transmission won't shift until it reaches high rpm and then it will be a very harsh shift. There is should also be a third cabel that runs to the cruise servo.
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting, can't go more than 30 mph

. . . The transmission you have has its shift points controlled by that cable and if it is not adjusted properly the transmission won't shift until it reaches high rpm and then it will be a very harsh shift. . . ..

Took the car to a garage/transmission shop; Tech takes the car for a test ride and informs me that the transmission will need a rebuild. The car is not shifting into 3rd gear. I asked about the TV cable adjustment: he said "i'm aware of that cable, it is to adjust the shift points, but your car is NOT SHIFTING, there is nothing to adjust."

I guess I have no choice but to get a rebuild.

;shrug
 

Pete K

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Jan 31, 2007
Messages
31
Location
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Corvette
1987 Black Coupe
Be sure he replaces the governor gear during the overhaul. If the car is not shifting out of first, and it has sufficent line pressure (from the tv system, this trans has no kickdown cable). Governor valve (sticking) or gear stripping is a common problem on any 700r4 that sits alot. Hopefully, they are being honest with you, and not just selling you an overhaul you dont need.
*The GM governor gears of that vintage were problematic, and cost about $5.
Also, be sure that they incorporate the small (in my opinion) required upgrades for these transmissions. Less than $100 in specific parts will really make a difference in the long run.
** I am not talking about shift kits, or whiz bang parts that everyone on the internet seems to think is required for these transmissions to survive.
85 was a decent year, and can be very reliable on 400 hp/400 ft lbs or less.
If I can assist with specific parts recommendations, shoot me an e-mail @ vrodpete@msn.com
 

Pete K

Active member
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Jan 31, 2007
Messages
31
Location
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Corvette
1987 Black Coupe
Took the car to a garage/transmission shop; Tech takes the car for a test ride and informs me that the transmission will need a rebuild. The car is not shifting into 3rd gear. I asked about the TV cable adjustment: he said "i'm aware of that cable, it is to adjust the shift points, but your car is NOT SHIFTING, there is nothing to adjust."

I guess I have no choice but to get a rebuild.

;shrug

Call him back and ask if a governor could cause this problem.
If he says no, run away from this shop.
 
Joined
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Colorado Springs, CO USA
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84 Z51 auto R.I.P. 89 black roadster SOLD
+1 to what Pete said. The tolerances in that governor are incredibly tight...all it takes is one microscopic piece of debris caught in the governor to cause the symptoms you are describing.

That shop's comments are already somewhat concerning...not shifting does not automatically mean it needs a rebuild. It might...but that symptom alone is not enough to determine this.

Bill
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting, can't go more than 30 mph

Thanks Pete K and GeekinaVette...

This is where I am going to need some real tight guiding....

Like you, I understand that there is ALOT of room for "the cash grab" when I go to the Transmission shop. I have ALWAYS been very very skeptical of transmission shops and the honesty level put forth. How can I make sure they have my best interest on this? Sometimes by pointing out stuff that they are "supposed to know" it eats them to the core; resulting in a bloodbath on the bill.

Now my buddy who "revived" this Vette at the enormous garage on his property (fits 10 cars easily with 2 lifts included) and got it back on the road for me was at one time the manager at AAMCO in Toms River, NJ. When I give him the car tomorrow he's going to tow it back to his garage and I believe he is going to "farm" this trans job out...... probably to a friend in the business. Am I to state that I want to be there when they work on it? That will come off a little obnoxious. Plus, I wouldn't know WTF they are doing anyway.

The new gas tank came yesterday, so i'll be getting the following done this week:
1. Remove and Replace Gas Tank
2. Diagnose and repair transmission issue
3. Diagnose heater not blowing

Sorry for the long writeup, but i'm trying to be more clear than concise.

Tony
 

Pete K

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Messages
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Location
Nanticoke, Pennsylvania
Corvette
1987 Black Coupe
Thanks Pete K and GeekinaVette...

This is where I am going to need some real tight guiding....

Like you, I understand that there is ALOT of room for "the cash grab" when I go to the Transmission shop. I have ALWAYS been very very skeptical of transmission shops and the honesty level put forth. How can I make sure they have my best interest on this? Sometimes by pointing out stuff that they are "supposed to know" it eats them to the core; resulting in a bloodbath on the bill.

Now my buddy who "revived" this Vette at the enormous garage on his property (fits 10 cars easily with 2 lifts included) and got it back on the road for me was at one time the manager at AAMCO in Toms River, NJ. When I give him the car tomorrow he's going to tow it back to his garage and I believe he is going to "farm" this trans job out...... probably to a friend in the business. Am I to state that I want to be there when they work on it? That will come off a little obnoxious. Plus, I wouldn't know WTF they are doing anyway.

The new gas tank came yesterday, so i'll be getting the following done this week:
1. Remove and Replace Gas Tank
2. Diagnose and repair transmission issue
3. Diagnose heater not blowing

Sorry for the long writeup, but i'm trying to be more clear than concise.

Tony

There is little you can do.
Even if you obtain spot on advice via the internet, bringing the word of a stranger to a professional really ticks them off.
Discuss the work.
Evaluate what they intend to do for you, and confirm price and warranty information.

Just curious. What was their reply when you asked them if the governor could be causing your problem?
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
There is little you can do.
Even if you obtain spot on advice via the internet, bringing the word of a stranger to a professional really ticks them off.
Discuss the work.
Evaluate what they intend to do for you, and confirm price and warranty information.

Just curious. What was their reply when you asked them if the governor could be causing your problem?

Ok, I will talk with the Transmission shop and get a synopsis of their intentions, confirm price and warranty.

As for the first shop that diagnosed the problem and said tranny needs rebuild; I did not bring the car back to them or revisit them; When I first brought the car to them, I sensed they were dismissive and reluctant right from the start. Over the 25 year span that I've had this car, i've noticed that some shops have a definite aversion to working on Vettes; for whatever reason they feel that vette owners are a PITA and they sometimes have no problem letting you know, they'd rather not work on your car. I'm sure other Vette owners have come across this "strange phenomenon"

I noticed that my '85 doesn't have that "D-shaped" button on the throttle-valve up on top of the engine, perhaps it is under the car nearer the transmission.

In any event, the car will be picked up in the next day or so. I had to wait until my severance check came in the mail. (recently laid off from my job as IT manager).

Thanks again
Will keep you updated.
Tony
Brick, NJ
 

boomdriver

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Ok, I will talk with the Transmission shop and get a synopsis of their intentions, confirm price and warranty.

As for the first shop that diagnosed the problem and said tranny needs rebuild; I did not bring the car back to them or revisit them; When I first brought the car to them, I sensed they were dismissive and reluctant right from the start. Over the 25 year span that I've had this car, i've noticed that some shops have a definite aversion to working on Vettes; for whatever reason they feel that vette owners are a PITA and they sometimes have no problem letting you know, they'd rather not work on your car. I'm sure other Vette owners have come across this "strange phenomenon"

I noticed that my '85 doesn't have that "D-shaped" button on the throttle-valve up on top of the engine, perhaps it is under the car nearer the transmission.

In any event, the car will be picked up in the next day or so. I had to wait until my severance check came in the mail. (recently laid off from my job as IT manager).

Thanks again
Will keep you updated.
Tony
Brick, NJ

Its got it...its just not obvious as a "button"...

If there are 3 cables, 1st is to throttle......2nd is from Cruise servo to throttle......3rd would be the TV cable. Look at the mount for the TV and see the black "button" inside the side of the cable mount....press that IN and slide the cable assy in/out a couple clicks. Slide to to rear causes harder later upshifts...OD engages at a higher speed.
Slide it forward to loosen the cable and that causes faster softer upshifts and OD engages at lower speed. Correct is OD engagement at approx 55-60 mph when trans is set in OD and allowed to upshift auto thru all the gears. It will be softer driven around town in OD and hurts nothing. It will take on a "performance" feel if driven around in 3rd. This makes it live by TCC control and a crisper feel.

Sorry to hear about the layoff.. This time of year?....employers should be punished by law for lay-offs in December. I remember having my entire branch office closed in the 1st week of Dec one year...I thought the corp office and the 'ol man have lost their mind.
It'll get better, always does. :thumb
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting, can't go more than 30 mph

My '85 Vette only has 2 cables up top. I have seen pictures of this "button" on the side of the cable, but perhaps that is on later Vettes? IDK.

For the 2 months that this car was driven after its revival from the dead, the shifts were a little off and like you mentioned seems to have needed some adjustment with the TV cable.

I would take it out at night and bring it up to speed on a local secondary road with almost no other cars in sight and just put it through it's gears.... seemed to be manageable, not perfect but not terribly bad.

But 2 weeks ago it just stopped going into third, fluid looks good.

???
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting, can't go more than 30 mph

My '85 Vette only has 2 cables up top. I have seen pictures of this "button" on the side of the cable, but perhaps that is on later Vettes? IDK.
???

I just went out and took a few pictures just to re-confirm to myself; here they are:

2011-12-10 14.51.26.jpg2011-12-10 14.53.23.jpg2011-12-10 14.51.09.jpg

Thanks about the lay off concern:

Actually my last day was August 18th, they continued to pay me until Nov. 28. I'll get 10,000 severance (minus taxes), 4,000 (401k withdrawal), and I'll be entitled to get unemployment at $600/week. I know that seems like alot, and it is probably more than most people who work at regular local jobs will get, but this is the type of entitlements that you get when you work for an investment bank. This could easily have been a 50,000 severance package, but they laid me off back in 2001 also, so that decreased this amount. In any event, that amount of money doesn't stretch too far with 3 kids, wife, dog and house and 3 cars to maintain. Whatever, i'm not crying about it, but at the same time, I've been searching every night since August and haven't found another IT Support job since. - great. I'm sure my wife won't be happy if she knew I was getting ready to spend $1,000 on the vette.

Tony
Brick, NJ
 

John Robinson

Gone but not forgotten
Joined
May 3, 2005
Messages
1,555
Location
Muncie, Indiana
Corvette
1993 Polo Green Coupe
engine.jpg


Look closely at this picture. There is a cable that goes to the throttle that is not showing in your picture. I believe that is the cable that controls the shift points or as we call it the TV cable. It looks to be missing on your photo.
 

avp0713

Active member
Joined
Mar 31, 2011
Messages
27
Location
Brick, NJ - Jersey Shore!
Corvette
1985 Silver Greenwood
'85 Automatic not shifting, can't do more than 30 mph!

engine.jpg


Look closely at this picture. There is a cable that goes to the throttle that is not showing in your picture. I believe that is the cable that controls the shift points or as we call it the TV cable. It looks to be missing on your photo.

Damn!, I certainly do see that TV cable.... so if all 1985 Corvettes are supposed to have that cable in place:

Why is it that the car has been to 4 different "mechanics" and none of them can diagnose that theres no TV cable there? ESPECIALLY after being told that the car is not shifting great?

So, this being the case, do you think if there WAS a TV cable installed the shifting issue would be resolved? Or is the ill-effects of "missing TV cable" already done its damage?

Thanks John,
Incredible that I'd have to spend hundreds of dollars at local garages to pay for their little blue logo that says ASE Certified. When I can get better service for free . . . online.

Tony
Brick, NJ
 

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