GMC Envoy transmission


My 2004 GMC Envoy is four months past its 3 year, 36000 mile warranty. The transmission failed completely this week - the middle of a busy intersection. GMC has agreed to extend the warranty, but I will still pay the $1000.00 deductible.

My question: If the transmission fluid dipstick is RUSTED IN PLACE, is that a bad sign? The dealership wanted me to think it wasn’t a bad sign, but rust inside a closed system seems pretty catastrophic to me. What do I need to combat these guys and save my cash? Thanks


You’ve just told us you haven’t checked the transmission fluid in 36K miles (dipstick rusted in place).

I don’t think you have a leg to stand on.


You’re up the creek and should consider the 1000 a gift from heaven unless there is a story behind that vehicle.

Since this sounds so very odd to me I have a few questions.
I’ve never seen or heard of a dipstick being rusted in place for starters.

Did you buy this vehicle brand new? We’re talking 4-5 miles on it, NOT 4-500 miles which would denote a dealer demo vehicle.
The only way I could see rust that bad would be if the vehicle was a dealer transfer from a flooded area or something like that.
In this case, the fluid would have been water contaminated also and would kill a transmission quickly.

Are you the one who discovered the rusty dipstick or was it the dealer?
If you are the one, did you examine what the fluid looks like? It should be clean and red. Water diluted fluid will usually turn a cloudy, sour milk color and a burnt up transmission will leave the fluid brown or black, along with a burnt smell.


WE found that the dipstick was stuck. The transmission guy at the dealership told us that it took him 15 minutes to get it out and that it was rusted. He had never heard of one being rusted, either.

We bought the vehicle brand new, less than 30 miles. Our manual indicates that the fluid should be changed every 50,000 miles and we just now got to that. There is no evidence of water contamination anywhere else under the hood.

Brother-in-law works for GM and helped us with his friends and family discount. We gave him the VIN prior to purchase. Would information about flood damage have shown up on his reports?


You definitely have an oddball situation here. I’ve seen a few dipsticks that would stick momentarily if allowed to stay in place for a long time but a near new and low mileage vehicle such as yours should not have had this happen.

Not being employed by GM, I have no idea what any search would entail as to any prior flood damage. About the only way I know of checking something like this would be to find out if the factory actually shipped your vehicle to the dealer where you purchased it.
I will point out that if a CarFax report was used, these may be inaccurate and are not to be trusted. CarFax is more of sales tool than anything else.

What I was pondering was the fact that a new vehicle might have been flooded somewhere while parked on a dealer lot, insurance may have paid off on it, and the vehicle was then sent to an auction where another dealer may have purchased it.
It’s difficult to say about the 30 miles. Most new vehicles have 5-10 on them. A hundred or more usually points to a dealer demo.
This gets into a gray area since 30 miles could mean a lot of test drives, demo being sold early, or worst scenario; being ferried around working problems out.

I wished I could be of more help, but a dipstick rusted so badly that it takes 15 minutes to remove is something I’ve never seen or heard of before. I’ve gotten old transmissions from the salvage that had been sitting around for 25+ years and the dipsticks had no rust on them. One of those cars had been sitting for 15 years with the hood up! Nary a speck of rust.

About all I can suggest is verifying the factory actually shipped that vehicle to the dealer you bought it from. Keep us informed about this because speaking for myself; I’m very curious about this. Until then I shall remain “dazed and confused” as the old Led Zeppelin song goes… :slight_smile:


In retrospect, I should have added something.
If GM (the company, not the dealer) is doing this “good-will” warranty for you they’re hitting you for a grand.

This means that you will actually be paying for the entire repair more than likely.
Warranty reimbursement for labor may be 3 hours X the reduced labor rate (60 an hour?) so that’s a 180 dollars.
I do not know what GM’s REAL out of pocket cost on a new transmission is but I would be willing to bet it’s far less than the remaining 820 dollars out of that grand.

You would be surprised at just how cheap manufacturing costs can be and the transmission is no exception.


Thanks SO much for your comments and advice. This rusted dipstick has been hot conversation all weekend. After doing some research, it seems that maybe GMC has had a problem with their transmissions for some time.

I agree that their out of pocket expense if very low. I don’t know how long or how many people it takes to replace a transmission, but they’ve had the car for 8 days now and say they don’t have the parts from GM yet.

We actually asked brother-in-law who works for GM to make some phone calls and he SAYS he’s gotten the $1000.00 deductible knocked off. So, at this point, not only are they paying for my rental car (suspicious, yet?), but they are waiving the deductible as well. This indicates to me that they are assuming some responsibility for the transmission failure. I don’t care if they say it out loud!

As far as we were concerned, we bought the car, brand new, off the lot at the GMC dealership. I am not sure how to go about finding out where it was originally shipped, but will work on that. There is no other evidence of damage in the engine from the top or bottom. Seems like I would have experienced other difficulties had it been flooded, but I am certainly agreeing it is a possibility.

Regardless of the repair cost, it was a catastrophic failure within the first three and a half years on a well-maintained vehicle. We will be trading it in as soon as possible.

Thanks again for your help. I will let you know what I find out about the original ship-to location.