Follow up to Sabotage question

Posted on here regarding a kerfuffle with my car. Took it in for new tires and arrived to a broken transmission. So here is my follow up question.


It’s a 1996 Olds Cutlass Ciera. What would happen to the transmission if it were suddenly shifted from Drive to Reverse?

Do You Mean, What Would Happen If One Did This While Driving The Car?

You’re going to have a hard time getting anything out of this shop. Do you have witnesses? The deck is stacked against you . . . 13 year old car, 184,000 miles, salvage yard engine and transmission . . . I’d chalk it up to a learning experience. Take your car to a facility you can trust in all cases.

You sound like you don’t trust these folks. Is this a National chain store tire or oil change place?

By the way, how was the trans fluid level when you checked it?

The car had been maintained regularly. Fluid was fine. I got a discrepancy from the manager and one of the repair men on my fluid level, one saying the fluid level was fine,t he other stating I had a leak. Car ws in excellent condition up until it’s arrival there. I do have the option of filing with the state’s attorney general consumer protection division. I have a paper trail and a timeline. But I need to figure out if I’m just experiencing sour grapes or if the 19 year old who drove it into the bay could’ve put it in reverse meaning to slam it into park while it was still moving fast and killed it. Putting aside all the peripherals of this situation, what would happen to an auto transmission slammed into reverse while in gear?

What About Its Former Life?

You state, “The car had been maintained regularly.” What was the maintenance and care of the transmission like for the first 66,000 miles before it went to the boneyard? Why did it go, was it in a spectacular crash? Its history could be anybody’s guess.

By the way, how was the trans fluid level when you checked it? Was it clean with a nice smell and color and up to full range?

Most cars with electronically controlled transmissions, including the 4T60E in your Oldsmobile will not engage reverse if the vehicle is moving forward at a speed greater than a few MPH. Even if the alleged 19 year old car wrangler who moved it did throw it in reverse whilst still traveling forward at a decent clip, nothing would’ve happened.

Fluid levels were clear, no discoloration indicating burning gears. Levels were normal, didn’t need to be filled.

I am basically checking out any remote possibilities before I roll this car into the junkyard and call it a day. If this isn’t their fault, this is the world’s worst coincidence and I am out of a car for the next two years. Hence my desperate hope that it was something on their end I could prove.

You say that you have only put 18k on it, so I am guessing you only had it for a couple years. The vehicle is 13 years old 184k, with a 66k motor in it. That motor may have had all of its miles put on it in the first few years and has been sitting in the scrap yard for the last 6-8 years accumulating rust and other nastiness, that and you don’t know how it was treated before it was put in.

Looks like you are SOL. My advice would be to never but a salvage title vehicle unless you know the person who rebuilt it very well. At that age a salvage titled vehicle is worth its weight in scrap to me, nothing more. There are plenty of cheap, clear titled used cars on the market right now. Look at some of those.

Assuming the hub broke, it’s my experience and opinion that this can happen anytime after it has been stressed enough. I’ve seen plenty of forward hubs broken under the most benign conditions. The owner had previously hammered the trans but it chose to break under normal driving conditions. It just picked that time to let go. So, even if the lot boy romped it in fwd->reverse- something that would not normally break a perfect hub, it could be the last straw for one that was already stressed.

The problem I think you are faced with is proving they abused the car. For that, you’ll need a witness to the abuse IMHO.