CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Is a transmission leak repair related to an immediate 4 wheel drive failure?

I have a 2001 GMC Jimmy with 76,000 miles. It had a transmission leak and, over time, I had taken it to 3 different shops that didn’t fix it. I finally found a local shop that came highly recommended. They said it had leaks in the transmission seal and the transfer case, too. The identified several other problems as well and the fix was nearly $1,000.

I picked it up at 6:00PM Thursday night. I drove 7 miles to work Friday morning at 6:00AM. After about 6 miles of driving on the freeway, I exited onto city streets. As I approached the stop light and began to slow down, a loud noise started coming from the front end. It was high pitched at first. As I slowed, it became louder and louder while decreasing slowly to a low pitch. When I stopped, it stopped completely. I proceeded to drive slowly the last mile to work and the noise continued. When I got to my office, I had the car towed back to the dealership.

When the dealership checked it out, they told me that the 4 wheel drive system was not working and that, even though I had put it into 4 wheel high and the light was on, it wasn’t operating. They said something about a cable that wasn’t pulling or maybe a motor that wasn’t working or maybe a vacuum hose that was leaking. In other words, they did not seem to know exactly what had failed. But, they told me that anytime I put it into 4 wheel drive it wasn’t going completely in and the noise was because gears were partially meshing. (?)

I have driven 4 wheel drive vehicles for 30 years or so and I know when it is working or not. Also, our weather these days is dry and 85 degrees. I certainly did not put it into 4 wheel drive and haven’t since the last storm. But, I know it was working then. The only problem I had was the leak…

Also, if the 4 wheel drive was bad, shouldn’t they have identified that, too?

I need the car for the next week or so. When I get back, I plan to take it back to them to diagnose and fix. The diagnosis should tell us what happened, but I don’t know if I can trust them to do it after they tried to baffle me with BS. This failed within 12 hours and probably 10 miles of their “fix”, considering I had to drive home from the shop and then to work the next day. Is it logical to assume that this was unrelated to their “repair”? That doesn’t seem to make sense to me. And, their stories are making me nervous.

What do you guys recommend?

Your best bet at getting this resolved in the best way possible and for the lowest cost to you possible is to take it back to the last place that worked on it. Taking the vehicle to a different shop is just a way to pay someone else a lot of money to badmouth the last shop to touch your vehicle and maybe (and this is a big maybe) fix it for you, and dealerships are the worst about this. If McDonald’s messed up your Big Mac, would you take it to Burger King to complain and get it fixed? It sounds as though the dealer service adviser has already started to work his magic on you, though, based on what you have written from the third paragraph on. After all, look at the third sentence you wrote in this thread. Repair shops don’t become highly recommended by screwing up everyone’s car and refusing to stand by their work. The way I see it, you have two choices here: either take it back to the shop that did the work and allow them to make it right, or pay the dealer $4000+ to replace the transmission, transfer case, and front axle since that will probably be their proposed solution to the problem (if in doubt, replace everything seems to be any dealership’s policy), and while you count out the bills, they can continue to fill your head with the idea that no mechanic can come close to touching the expertise you will get from the dealer service department.

This whole story makes little sense to me…Where you driving in 4-high? Why?

That’s what I was thinking too - 4wheel high on the highway? What in the world for? Isn’t that thing on demand 4 wheel but normally a two 2wd?

As I mentioned, I did not put it in 4 wheel drive. It was in 2 wheel drive. I did mistakenly say dealership. This is not a dealership but a repair shop. I understand the difficulty with going to a different repair shop but I am concerned that this one immediately started making excuses.

My thought was to take it to another repair shop to have them diagnose it and tell me what needed fixed, not to have them fix it if it was the initial shop’s fault.

I will try to work with them to get the problem fixed and go from there.

I bet the A) forgot to fill the transfercase with oil or B) used the wrong oil or C) did not adjust the cable correctly.

For $1000 I assume they dropped the whole unit so who knows what could have got messed up.

Found I also had a major drop in milage at the same time, about 100 miles per tank or 7 miles per gallon!

I took it back to the same shop. They still wanted to say that they didn’t do it. But, they diagnosed the problem and discovered they had swapped two vacuum hoses.

In the end, they owned up to the problem and fixed it so that is good news.

Thanks for all your help…