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Automatic trans slipping in drive


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Hi folks, this may or may not be a trans problem at all, but I thought I'd start here.

I have a 94 Legacy wagon, 2.2 motor, 4 wheel drive with the automatic trans.


About 200 miles ago the CEL came on and the speedo quit working. I stopped, checked all the fluids, and saw there was nothing obvious so my conclusion was that the vehicle sped sensor went away and caused the CEL to come on. The car ran fine, shifted fine ,and I looked in my chiltons manual to see about changing the vss.

I learned there are 2 VSS's with one in the trans, and one behind the dash. I also learned that although I can check each vss with an ohmmeter, (it gives a value between pins) , but the book does not show which pins they refer to. The connector does not show pin numbers either, so finding pin 9 and 16 for the trans vss, or pins 7 and 11 for the indash vss is not going to happen unless I can find a pin diagram for the connectors.


Then about 10 miles ago, the trans started slipping in drive, i would shift up through low and second, then slip, (or just rev) in drive. It works ok in 1-2-3 when you put the trans in it's "manual" mode, but again, just revs in D.


The car got driven home in "manual" mode and is parked there. (it's my wife's second car, so I have a little time to get it fixed)


My assumption and hope is that this has a lockup torque converter, and the shift points are electrically controlled and the non functioning VSS is not letting the ecm do it's thing when it shifts up into drive.. My lack of familiarity with this car is making that just a guess. Working on cars is not foriegn to me, I own a street rod shop, and do all aspects of work on older cars, but just need some help with troubleshooting the specific problems this car is experiencing.


So my question(s) are, Is the above assumption correct? Could I have fried drive by driving this with a non functioning VSS?


I tried to read the trouble codes but again, my book was pretty unclear on how to retrieve them. I did see a good walk through on the BB here about retrieveing the codes, and will print that out and try again tonight.


Thanks for reading this.

later, mikey

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54 views in 2 days and no replies...did I say something wrong?

I did figure out that the car has a 4at trans, and a new vss is 22 dollars at the dealer,( no parts houses carry it), so I'll change that and see what happens.


Later, mikey

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well I waited over a week for what was supposed to be a VSS...(I only told them 3 or 4 times it was a vehicle speed sensor.)..but the dealer ordered a speedometer shaft instead...So I drove 103 miles to look at a dealership parts counter, a wrong special ordered part and talk to 2 parts guys who couldn't find the part I really wanted...now they tell me they need the vin# to call the parts tech guy with....and I couldn't get them to credit my debit card back either...they have to mail me a check..that only takes 10 days..:confused:


Later, mikey

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So it turned out not be the vss on the transmission, ( I checked it with a VOM, and it pulsed just like it's supposed to), but it turned out to be the speedo drive adapter in the transaxle...there is a little aluminum drive shaft with a tang and a square female hole for the speedo cable....the shaft rides inside of a steel bushing pressed into a gland nut looking thing that the cable housing end snaps into...Apparently the aluminum shaft had seized up in the steel bushing, and the tang broke off, so it could not drive the speedo cable...


The dealer pissed me off so much that instead of going and buying the part, I stood on front of my lathe for a few minutes and made my own out of an old Model A Ford speedo drive gearshaft..(it already had the square hole for the speedo cable...those are a PITA to make)..5 minutes in front of the mill finished up the tang end.I did bore out the steel bushing to get rid of the galled up aluminum boogers and greased it up with some redline wheel bearing grease....I'm sure Henry Ford is smilin knowing that some doofus hotrodder took 79 year old castaway ford part and used it to fix a 15 year old subaru...:lol:


I 'spose I could have gone down to the pick-n-pull and spent 5 bucks...but that takes the real fun out of working on cars.


End result, the speedo works again, the CEL is off, the trans shifts fine. So I guess my assumption was correct in that the vss in the speedo does tell the ecm what to tell the trans...and apparently I did not fry any clutches or bands, as it shifts just as vague and weird as it did when we got it.


Thanks for all your suggestions and help, I could not have fixed this without you guys.:)

Over 150 views with no replies other than my own gave me much inspiration.

I also learned from cruising around on the "net that this is a fairly common problem with those legacys...I'm surprised that the dealer didn't clue me in about that.


BTW, the Chiltons model specific manual for this car is vague and incomplete, the Haynes manual is much better...


Later, mikey

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