New transmission in 1989 Oldsmobile Calais

Just had a new transmission put in my car - not rebuilt. However it doesn’t shift as smoothly from 20-30 mph (i’m not car guy - is that from first to second?) as it did. Took it back. Guy “fixed” it and said it’s running great. It’s not - it’s running the same as it did. Now I was told with this transmission that my car may never actually shift the way it did before. And perhaps the shop that replaced it should get a different transmission and see how that works. What are my options here?

did you get a warranty on this new tranny? Is it an exact replacement for the old one (You seem to imply that it is not)?

I had a similar problem with my 93 Caprice. The 1-2 upshift was delayed out to 20-25 mph and was shifting abruptly, the 2-3 and 3-4 upshifts were smooth. The problem was the Throttle Valve (TV) cable was out of adjustment. The cable is connected to the throttle linkage and affects the transmission shift points. My cable needed to be loosened slightly, now the Caprice’s 1-2 upshift is around 15 to 20 mph and smooth. The cable adjustment is very sensitive, the adjustment for the Caprice was around ~1/8".It took several hours of incremental adjustments followed by road tests before I was satisfied with the Caprice.

On the other hand, if the cable is too loose the car will not downshift, again if it is too tight the upshifts will be abrupt. This should have been checked by the mechanic that did the transmission replacement.

Autozone has a repair guide for the Calais, here is the section on TV cable adjustment.

Good luck,

Ed B.

thanks guys.

i did get a warranty (one year). not sure if it’s an EXAVCT replacement for this particular model car.

i know i can take it back to the mechanic (we have a good reparte) but if he wasn’t able to adjust it twice, i have doubts he’ll ever do it. i’m wondering if i should just take it to a transmission shop (two blocks from this mechanic) and get his opinion. my friend told me with the warranty i can request another transmission. would that help? also, is this shifting issue hurting the transmission or any other part of the car?

You don’t mention why the transmission required replacement. If it was slipping in the 1-2 or 2-3 shift when it failed, you may have gotten accustomed to that soft shift. Now that the shift as more firm you are noticing it. As said before the TV cable adjustment is critical to the softness/firmness of the shift as the shorter the length the higher the shift point speed will be and the harder the shift will be. Personally, I prefer a more firm shift rather than a soft drawn out shift.

You might see if you can drive another 1989 Olds Calais with the same engine and transmission and see if the shift is as noticable in that as yours.

Also, just for my own information, do you have the three speed with lockup converter or four speed with lockup converter. Could you post that when you reply?

find a third party, someone familiar with cars, (prob NOT a transmission shop), perhaps a dealer, and ask them to check the shifting action. Don’t bias their test by mentioning your specific concern, just ask them to check the low speed shifting.

I have a couple of comments that will not solve the problem and may even muddy the water, sorry. I wold be surprised if you can get a new transmission for a 1989 Calais. Remanufactured, sure.

Sometimes as transmissions are in use for several years the manufacturer may make improvements to the design without changing the identity of the transmission. This could be changes in the materials used, like in the friction plates and clutches in the transmission or number of friction plates. It could be changes in the valving as well. The Olds guys could have decided that they should make the transmission last longer by making it slip less (the way Researcher likes it).

I am not saying that this is the case with your situation, but it might be.

what happened to my comment? this may post twice.
not sure if it’s a 3 or 4 speed lockup converter.
the transmission just went. i drove it for 2 years and put on 6,000 miles and it
always shifted the same.

also wanna make sure i’m not hurting the car or my new transmission with this “new” shifting that i’m not used to…i’m not, right?

I did some research. Your car most likely has the 3T40 (aka TH125) which is a three speed with a locking torque converter. The 1-2 shift is taken on a band. There is an accumulator under the valve body that probably slows and softens the application of that band. The shift feel will depend on the spring under that accumulator; the cushion spring on the intermediate band apply pin; and the size of the orface in the separator plate feeding that apply circuit. As you can see there are a lot factors that go into that shift that can be updated. The 2-3 shift is obtained by the high clutch coming on while the intermediate band is released. Usually this shift is modified by line pressure alone as the transition timing is neatly done by engineering alone.

As to what you should do in your specific case, take your car to a trusted transmission technician; have him drive the car with you as passenger; voice your comment on the shift involved; and allow him/her to diagnosis any problems found. If the shift condition is not demonstrated to your satisfaction, you drive the car until you experience the shift that is bothersome. The technician will give you his take on the condition and you will have to trust his expert opinion. Of course, you will have to pay for his time, expertise, and diagnostic skill.

Hope that helps.

Jeff, you never really did tell us exactly what its doing. What do you mean by not shifting as smoothly?? Your shift at 20-30 mph is most likely the 2-3 shift. The 89 Calais came with the 125-C transmission. (3 speed) Tell me EXACTLY what its doing.