Transmission Rebuild

We have had a constant problem with our truck, which I will detail in another post. The one thing that has never given us a hint of trouble is our transmission. It never shifted too smoothly from 3rd to 2nd when in Drive (shifts perfectly in Over Drive), but that has been the only thing I have ever noticed from it.

We had just left camp and were headed up to the border to do some shopping when I became quite sleepy. I asked my wife to drive and I would try to get a 15 minute nap. The truck was running rough, but was at least drivable.

She took over and I zonked out quickly. I had been asleep about 30 minutes when I sensed something was wrong. My wife puts off some serious tension in the air when she is stressed while driving. I almost always know when she feels pinned in between concrete barriers or other vehicles. She does not have to say anything, but I wake up.

This was one of those moments. She had been driving and slowed down for a rough spot in the road. As soon as she got through that area the truck lost forward propulsion. That was not strange since we have been having power issues with the engine. But this was different. The engine was running, but the transmission was not engaging.

She pulled us over to the side of the road as much as possible between two hills. A bit of testing showed me that it was definitely the transmission. Strange thing was that we still had reverse.

These things rarely happen where you have cell phone service.

Three hours later I was finally able to flag someone down and he helped us back up (without getting hit) to a spot where we could pull the truck totally off the road. He then took us to a gas station about 30 minutes away.

The gas station is strategically located at the crossroad of 2 major highways. Because of this, there is almost always a federal police officer waiting to catch speeders. While I am skeptical of the police in this particular area, I have never had a problem getting information out of them. They ended up calling a tow truck and getting a price quote for me.

From the time we broke down until we were settled into a hotel was about 7 hours. And our pockets were almost $200 lighter.

The tow truck driver picked the Suburban and me up the next morning and took us to a transmission shop he recommended. He did not charge me for this little jaunt across town. Very kind man.

From the time I arrived with the truck until they were delivering it back to me at the hotel was less than 4 hours!

I watched them tear the transmission apart to see what the problem was. The planetary gears were shattered. It was quite interesting to see the assembly with all the cracks and broken metal off of it. They replaced the broken parts and put new seals/gaskets in the tranny and had us back on the road. It cost less than $300 for the operation.

Fortunately for us that it died on the Mexican side of the border. While parts are more expensive there, labor is much less expensive. Had we had the same malady happen on the US side of the border, I have been told it would have cost us between $750 and $1200.

We made the rest of the trip into Texas without incident. Though we arrived a day later than expected, we finally made it.

3 thoughts on “Transmission Rebuild”

  1. It all worked out well. The only frustrating thing was the time it took. We were looking forward to about 5 days at the border relaxing, playing and shopping. With the delay in the transmission work and then the truck needing help, we lost 3 days. So, we just ended up doing some harried shopping and then ran back south.

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