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1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Help and Advice on all Volvo's "mid era" rear wheel drive Volvos.
1975 - 1993 240
1983 - 1992 740
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1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby FriendofVolvoGuy » 18 Jul 2011, 22:54

Hi everyone,

I'm new around here, not a Volvo owner myself but I have a friend with one that is having some problems.

The car is a 1995 Volvo 960 automatic. The problem is transmission related. When the car is put into drive it doesn't move; not in reverse, not drive, not any of the gear selections. All I got from him was that the car was shifting funny, then he stopped somewhere, and now it doesn't do anything. I took a look at it, and checked the codes. Only code retrieved was 2-3-5 from port 1. Car starts and revs no problem, but doesn't engage in any gears, but will shift from park to neutral so it can roll. Reverse lights also come on when car is shifted into reverse. Car has been leaking trans fluid for a while I think, as the level was low after it was brought home. I want to assume the worst and say the trans is done, but he just got back from a 200+ mile trip and had no issues, and the trans hasn't been slipping or acting up at all really. Also he's been having problems with the shifter not leaving park without hitting the override button (faulty solenoid). Any help would be appreciated.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby jimmy57 » 18 Jul 2011, 22:57

You do not mention checking fluid. Low fluid will make it not move.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby FriendofVolvoGuy » 18 Jul 2011, 23:16

Fluid was low when problem first started, its been topped off now and still wont enagage in any gear.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby danr960 » 19 Jul 2011, 01:56

Code 235 is high temperature, I had that code once and it was after my radiator emptied into my transmission.
Once the clutch packs lost their lining, all they did was spin and create heat.

What does the color of the fluid look like? The sump could have debris in it and it can clog up the screen filter, but usually once you let it rest for a few minutes it will start to move for awhile.

Does the engine rev up when in gear? Like it is slipping? Or does it bog down at around 2500 rpms?

There is also a rubber bushing in the shift linkage, it can dry out and crack off with age, that would make for very sloppy shifting out of park into drive. Could the car actually be starting out in 3rd gear? When mine cracked off, it would not shift into reverse, and drive was in 3rd gear.

Where is the trans leak?

DanR '94 964 358,000 miles (124,000 on the new engine)
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby FriendofVolvoGuy » 19 Jul 2011, 02:11

The fluid on the dipstick is red (because my friend just topped it off hoping to fix it) so I haven't seen the actual color yet. Anyways, the car revs like its in neutral or park, with no resistance. I've driven cars with badly slipping transmissions and destroyed clutch packs and I wouldn't describe the way the Volvo feels as the same. My friend also thinks the shift linkage sounds louder then it used to, but that could just be because he's hearing it with the engine off now and is looking for funny sounds. I'm also not sure where the trans leak is, when I have time in a few days I think I'm going to have to show up with a service jack and jack stands and inspect the underside thoroughly and drop the trans pan. I'm just hoping there's a common issue that I should look for.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby FriendofVolvoGuy » 19 Jul 2011, 02:14

One more thing I just thought of, I remember he replaced his radiator because he drove into one of those concrete parking stops...I wonder if that could have allowed the trans fluid and coolant to mix? But this was at least 5 months ago, how long does it take for coolant contamination to destroy the clutch packs usually?
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby danr960 » 20 Jul 2011, 12:25

It very well could be the radiator event. It took about two weeks for mine to get to the slipping point.

But for me the slipping started one afternoon and by evening it barely would move. I think the amount of coolant let into the trans system determines how fast the failure is going to be.

If it is the case, try dropping the trans pan, you will need to get a gasket, the same trans is used on lexus of the same years.
Once you get the pan dropped, inspect the fluid for a large amount of sediment, if it does then a junk yard would have to be the next step.

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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby FriendofVolvoGuy » 23 Jul 2011, 06:33

I finally managed to coordinated a time to inspect the trans with the owner. I checked the shifter linkage first, all seemed in order. It seemed like there is a missing bushing on his shifter shaft as there is a lot of play in the mechanism, but it still operated all the gears fine (I checked the movement by using the shift lever manually from under the car). Next up we pulled the trans pan. It was REALLY stuck on, more so then any i've seen. It looked like a previous owner had sealed the whole thing with loctite. Anyway, the trans fluid was an opaque brown color and thick. I didn't find much trace of metallic residue, there was some but not a lot, not really any sediment either. One thing I did notice was that the filter seemed completely clogged and everything internal was coated in thick brown liquid. Is there any chance that a trans flush/cleaning would help here, or should I be transmission shopping with my friend. I'm used to seeing black, burnt fluid when a trans is cooked, and I know brown is spent fluid, but this seems slightly different to me. I definitely wish I got more hands on transmission time in my regular life!
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby precopster » 23 Jul 2011, 09:02

This transmission is probably one of the most robust that Volvo has used however even though this is the first post I've seen for a failing AW 30/40LE, my own transmission on my 93 960 went after having insufficient fluid for about 3,000 miles. (it slipped and wouldn't drive)

Toyota has used the same A341E on the Lexus LS400 and Soarers with great success and is probably the same transmission with a different bell housing and a change in some sensors. Gear ratios would be similar. If you pull the transmission and try some Toyota salvage yards, you may find it's the same unit. This could save some dollars. In my case I paid around $1,100 fitted at a Volvo specialist. Please let us all know how you went. There aren't many 960 forum members here but the ones who log in regularly would love to know how it went.
Current cars: 1995 850, 2000 V70 non turbo, 2001 V70 XC project, 2002 XC70

What we used to own:1987 740 sedan, 2002 S60AWD, 1989 740 turbo wagon, 1985 760 V6, 1995 850 wagon, 1999 V70 project car.

In forum posts please call me Mike
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby billofdurham » 23 Jul 2011, 17:45

It was REALLY stuck on, more so then any i've seen. It looked like a previous owner had sealed the whole thing with loctite.


Volvo uses a liquid gasket, part #1161409, to a thickness of 3mm.

Bill.
Work was good - retirement is better.

1996 850GLT 2.5 20v Estate Manual.
1995 Peugeot Boxer 2.5Tdi Autosleeper.
Previously:
1984 244DL, Manual, Beige.
1987 744GLE, Manual, Green.
1991 960 3.0 24v, Auto, Silver.
1994 940T Wentworth, Auto, Blue.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby Phaeton » 15 Oct 2012, 16:48

Ok, so I have an update. I drained and filled the tranny a couple more times. The noise went away, car drove great for 2 weeks, now the noise is back again. Is there anyway the filter could be getting plugged up not allowing oil to circulate? if so how do I get the contaminants out? I see the modified flush method here, would that do it?
Thanks your time guys.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby precopster » 15 Oct 2012, 17:07

I think the top hose is the one pumping out here (somebody correct me if I'm wrong) Just drain 2 quarts into a milk bottle with the engine idling and refill with the same amount. Do this about 5 times or more until fluid coming out is clean.

The filter and pan gasket come together as a kit from IPD Volvo or anyone stocking Toyota A341E (as fitted to Toyota Soarers, Supras or LS400 Lexus) gearbox filters for under $20
Current cars: 1995 850, 2000 V70 non turbo, 2001 V70 XC project, 2002 XC70

What we used to own:1987 740 sedan, 2002 S60AWD, 1989 740 turbo wagon, 1985 760 V6, 1995 850 wagon, 1999 V70 project car.

In forum posts please call me Mike
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby Phaeton » 15 Oct 2012, 18:51

I thought the automatic transmission did not have a pan, and you have to pull the tranny to change the filter.
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Re: 1995 Volvo 960 Transmission won't engage, car wont move

Postby precopster » 15 Oct 2012, 19:11

Nope. On this model a definite pan and gasket, around 20 bolts and a filter that is easy to get to. Well it's not exactly a filter, just a low lying plate that sediment tends to cling to. It can't really block the operation of the transmission.

It's no wonder that many traditional Volvo owners want to hold on to their ageing models; the RWDs were so much easier to maintain.
Current cars: 1995 850, 2000 V70 non turbo, 2001 V70 XC project, 2002 XC70

What we used to own:1987 740 sedan, 2002 S60AWD, 1989 740 turbo wagon, 1985 760 V6, 1995 850 wagon, 1999 V70 project car.

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