Financial dilemma

I have a beautiful 2002 Pontiac Bonneville SSEI with just over 100k miles on it. I’ve been saving for a new set of tires and a new regulator for the rear window. The window suffers from the “pop and drop” syndrome but I have instructions on how to fix it myself when I can get the parts.

Yesterday, I started her up to go to my second job when I discovered I had no reverse. In drive, I could just creep forward at 3000 rpm. Fixing a transmission is probably the worst case scenario I could imagine happening.

Important to note here that I am a teacher with an incredible amount of debt. Even if someone was crazy enough to give me financing for a transmission, I wouldn’t take it. I’m in no position to add more debt. I definitely don’t have $3000 in cash so I’m left with two options: Either find something simple I can do myself to get it moving again or get what I can for it and use the proceeds to buy a piece of metal to get back and forth to work.

Ok folks, please weigh in on this.

Check your transmission fluid level first. Does it smell burnt?

No, it looks good and at the proper level.

Running it at 3000 rpm to get it to move is burning the clutches up and will guarantee a rebuild. There are other issues that can cause that so you need to get it to a tranny shop for a diagnosis first before throwing in the towel. 100K is a little early for major trans work.

You have no reverse. Is it creeping in drive at 3,000 RPM because it stays in low and won’t upshift ? Will it operate in any other gears if shifted into them Manually ?

You could have a reaction sun gear slipping inside the reaction sun shell inside the transmission.

You could try having the vehicle checked for any stored DTCs (diagnostic trouble codes). After that you’d probably have to drop the pan and filter and check the transmission magnet for metal debris.

Is the “check engine” light illuminated ?


@ Bing: Yeah, I was surprised that the trans would give in so soon. I was burned once before on an old Grand Prix ('78). A transmission fluid change turned into a transmission replacement. I was young and I don’t think those guys were “entirely forth comming with the truth”.

@ Common Sense Answer: No joy in the other gears either. No check engine light. I was thinking of starting it again today to double check. Due to Bing’s comments above, I don’t think I want to experiment too much but maybe just engaging the trans. and seeing if it tries to engage at all.

Update: Trans. still does not engage (in any gear) but there is no check engine light. Odd thing is that when I return to park and shut the engine off, the car rocks backward slightly (more slipping?). Looking for someone who might do a free diagnosis.

That rocking at shutdown is a very troubling sign. My best guess is that one of the clutches has shredded and is dragging.