Automatic transmission “slush pump” diagnosis

Some jargon first:

ATF, automatic transmission fluid (Dexron(tm) III or higher. VI is Current. (I like to joke and call it a slush pump)

The Sidekicks/ Geo tracker”Slush Pump”, the Automatic Transmission or Tranny ; A/T!
The 3 or 4 speed A/T

I am no Hydramatic trans’ expert rebuilder, I only diagnose, the drive line parts and then replace them, as needed.
Is this a transmission issue, at all?
If the engine RPM, say, is at like 900 RPM during a stall test, that is a bad engine, not transmission. (99.9% of the time)
Too High a stall test RPM is called SLIPPING or FLARE, that is transmission failure (of some kind)
The below is “ON CAR SERVICE”. (saving huge cash, by not gue$$ing ) See off car service, here.
Some even buy rebuilt valve bodies and install them while transmission is still in the car… or replace all solenoids, same way.

The Main INDEX:

Basic tests and checks
The 3speed is a Hyramatic, but the 4 speed is not, the 4SP, it has an 100% electronic brain TCM (in dash box) Shifted. and works quite differently and is tested differently.
Some Basics are still the same, Stall test and line pressure testsmust be good first.
Before I start, let me say, there are things to do first, before condemning any transmission.
(slips, dead, shifts late,or too early, stuck in 1 gear, or skips gears, harsh shifts or Flares under heavy loads, park fails to hold car, or park lockout fails, car moves in Neutral?)

What are these simple checks? (as seen in any Factory Service Manual, on any car made) In review:
Items in red are 
Hyramatic only. The book that covers this, is called the FSM or Factory Service Manual. (ATF, means Automatic Transmission Fluid)

  • Fuses good? check for no blown fuses. (4speed big time needs fuses for TCM. but 3speed, the TCC lockup feature is the only electric feature)
  • ATF Levels good?, correct per the checks in the operators guide, do not guess, do not assume its like engine oil checks; it’s NOT. DO not over fill the ATF level., SEEN HERE.
  • Does the ATF fluid look like tar? (red is normal) nor full of metal flakes? Black tar with stars shining.?
  • Does the shift lever feel good, do the felt Detent actions here, align with the letter D, when selected? If not, the cable my be bad or adjusted wrong. (broken trans mount or collision damage?
  • Is the transmission leaking fluid?
  • In all gears that work do you have full engine power? and no ENGINE DTC error causing lower engine power?
  • Is the 4Sp OD lamp stuck on, yes? then you SCAN the PCM/TCM and you see transmission, DTC errors? (are you ignoring this and the tests in the FSM that state what to do for each?)
  • 4 speed: Don’t forget to scan the PCM (1997) and newer for DTC errors (P07xx) Using any scan too made for OBD2 cars, in the USA.
  • Skipped the 50-60k mile full service?, now the filter is clogged and you wonder why the pump starves for fluid? really? The pump in trans can not suck ATF through a packed filter.
  • Did you do the stall tests in the FSM? yet? RPM too low? at stall, means weak engineRPM too high?, if the tranny slips, the line pressure can only be 1/2 done. Per FSM.
  • If the Stall tests fails, all FSM’s say, to do the LINE tests NEXT, this is the pressure Line test ports on the side connected to a 300 PSI pressure gauge. (see the FSM for how to do this)
  • Is the Detent TV throttle valve stuck open? The TV cable has 2 ends, the other end must not be stuck in any way shape or form. (takes careful checking)
  • On the 3speed only, did you install a new vacuum modulator yet?, they have many fail modes, even leaking inside, unseen and horrid effects, (late shifting? or stuck in 1st gear?)
  • The 3speed only, has a Governorit has screens near it, that can be clogged up, due to no service. (or even a bad Governor) all can be changed, tranny in car. (or xfr case removed)
  • If a 4speed, we can do many more tests. see them below. Lots more, It has a super secret manual mode and has limphome symptoms. (that skips 2nd gear) (drive and check for gear slip, UP HILLS)
  • Did you know, you can make a box with switches and then connect it to the tranny and shift all gears manually, now or for ever, like many racers do, on many like kind transmissions?
  • The car fails to move or shift up until the ATF gets warmer, this can be clogged filter or all seals are old and hard as a rock, until warm.
  • The car, only moves cold and not hot? this can be due to hotter ATF gets thinner (normal), hot and now all those well worn seals leak. (worn seals may not be hard yet, only badly worn)
  • Is the transmission ground strap missing?, this huge strap must present or the solenoids will be Dead. Saw a guy last week paid $2000 for new tranny, but only the ground was bad.
  • Does the transmission make odd noises, use a stethoscope (for 5 bucks) to find true location, make sure U-joints are good FIRST.
  • Line pressure can fail at idle or in gear, and in gear the TV valve stuck open will cause line pressure in drive to fail. (FSM clearly lists that is one cause)
  • The 4speed TV cable end, at tranny side,needs the valve body dropped to replace it or correct the stuck cam there…

More Checks and actions to take?:
There are many things one can do, besides replacing the whole thing, every time something goes awry.

  • Do full flush and service?, replace the fluid that came out and keep draining and filling until it goes pink. (YMMV)
  • ( replace the filter or clean the screen) 3sp filter is a pure rectangle and 4sp looks like F117 fighter jet. 
  • A dirty filter can some times allow the hot engine/transmission to shift. A classic sign Shifts ok hot.
  • Check that Radiator cooler is NOT CLOGGED nor leaking Antifreeze into the transmission.
  • Check pump pressures at the tranny test port. If low, that is bad news. (end of the road)
  • The Driving test is covered in the FSM, Check the shift points in those FSM charts.
  • Check for flare or slippage, driving, nor skipped gears, or missing gears. or failure to down shift or passing gear failures. The 4 sp will skip 2 gear in LIMPHOME mode.
  • The 3L-30 has no scan codes besides one ECU, TCC failure. The 3sp is 99% mechanically shifted the 4speed is 100% electronically shifted. (TV,kick down effects is one exception)
  • The filters on some transmissions, have a seal that if leaks, the pump will suck air, do the service and do not leave out parts or ignore seals or hoses at the filter.

TV means, the The Throttle valve cable and parts that tells the transmission, driver demands.
End of basic on car tests. (very brief)

Other odd failures:
Park –Neutral lockout or reverse (backup) lamp failures?

The PRNDL can fail and cause no cranking at start.
If the PRNDL switch on the tranny side, fails, some folks take it apart, and the contacts can be cleaned, saving you $200

This switch can fail and cause backup(reverse) light failure and failure to get park lockout to release. (see park emergency release on shift base lower left) < see operators guides for how.
The PRNDL also tells the TCM which mode of shifting you want, D, 2 or L, R.

There are 2 Automatic transmissions used on Sidekick/ Trackers, etc.
The 3speed Hyramatic with a Hydramatic, valve body brain, (Rube Goldberg magic) and a Vacuum modulator and Governor. (and 1 electric TCC lockup clutch, ECU decides when)
The 4 speed, minus the RUBE magic valve body brain, only simple solenoid logic valve body (still has accumulators and manual valves there) that the TCM decides when to shift based on many inputs.
In 1997 Suzuki moved the TCM to the insides of the ECU and renamed it PCM. That don’t matter, because the logic is still there and works exactly the SAME.

My web page has simple on car service and repairs and off car
The automatic box, is complex and is infamous for failing, for just one 10 cent o-ring cracking. Deep inside. In most cases the seals are all old and hard, they are NO GOOD.

The 3 speed has 328 parts. (inside) and about 1/3rd of these can fail easily. (bushings, clutch disc’s, thrust washer, and a mind blowing count of SEALS.
Extreme Complexity, is not always a great solution to transportation, nor is the price to replace it. (a new tranny can be 2x the cost, to replace the whole car)

Timely lube/filter changes, can greatly extend its life. SEE FULL SERVICE here.

In the USA the 4speed is used only on the 4 door car. (outside USA there are far more car options, with many different engine /trans and body combinations)
Many European countries have Vitara’s with 2 doors, 16v 95HP engine and 4speed A/T. (variants all over the world,on this car)

Identification methods?: 
4SP SHIFT CONSOLE LABELS: P R N D 2 L, 4sp has an OD button and a Power button. OD overdrive and P/N (power /normal)

The Power Switch magic button on console, Page 1 & Page 2 charts for the curious.

3-Speed, GM 3L30 tranny, aka: old THM-180C, now called 3L30 GM RPO MX1 (early) and M65 (later) RPO are GM glove box codes.
Old 1969 circa design, used in early 1969 Opel GT. and used on USPS mail wagons.
The 3sp evolved to 4L30 today and share similar parts. Are rated at 258 ft/lbs of torque. at the input shaft. Code 30= 258 ft/lbs.

The 3speed has Poor efficiency (not TCC locked) and weaker compared to the 4sp, but more that adequate for a 2000 pound KICK and cheap gas.
All A/T’s do very well with MPG, at 60mph with TCC locked up!! near perfect… no lie. but not in the city.(and for sure not stop and go driving)
The last 2 digits of the P/N of the 3L30, convey strength ( a torque rating) 30 means weaker.

THE 4-speed box, AISIN AW code # 03-72LE (E=electronic), actual. Code 72 means. 375 ft/ lbs front shaft rating.
AKA: # A44DE as used in old 80’s Toyota’s, 1999 Miata’s, and Grand Vitara’s, even my 2004. even ISUSU’s
The “A” in A44, means, Aisin Seiki Co. Electronic shifting transmission. Aisin is 30% owned by the Toyota Group of companies.
The A40 box handles way more engine torque even the larger V6’s,even in a minivan.


Looking for signs that tell me, what tranny I have: #1 to 3 win the easy check?

  1. 4sp Shift lever has an OD on/off button on 4sp, and an OD lamp in speedo cluster.
  2. The 4sp has a Power/Normal “P/N” button on the shift console. (changes shift point RPMs)
  3. Shifter detent letters and numbers, “P R N D 2 L” seen on a 4speed shift stalk.<<< the 2 is a “DEAD GIVE AWAY”.
  4. They don’t even look the same.
  5. Label on left side tranny, shows real part number of MFG. (just above pan seam, center left side, 4speed shown here.)
  6. Count shifts as you drive? (if it does still shift correctly?)
  7. Look for the TCM PUTER ( above right and high of steering column) TCM= Transmission control module. (don’t look in 97 or newer, it was moved inside PCM)
  8. 3sp has short bell housing.
  9. 3sp has no right side engine to tranny braces at all, see the 4sp side brace devices #16/19 here.
  10. 4sp has a top rear of tranny speed VSS-2 Veh. Speed Sensor (electronic).
  11. 4sp and 3sp has a unique ID on all GM RPO tags in the glove box. M41,MX1,or M65.?
  12. Vacuum modulator ID 25, is missing on all 4sp.
  13. The 4sp has no governor (mech) at tail. (just a fact, don’t try to find it)

GM – GEO Tracker glove box sticker ID?: RPO are DAY 1 build codes, or AS BUILTS!
The GM GEO Trackers (GM J1 series) have a GM RPO build code in the glove box. Look at line 3, first 3 digits (about)
RPO = GM Regular Production Option ( with special numbers for Geo’s options )
MY RPO page. I call these, AS BUILT codes
Tranny GM RPO Digits:
1st LETTER M = transmission, so look at the RPO tag for letter M prefixes.

M41 = 4 speed 03-72LE (electronic) A40 series, and close match is A44DE.
M65 = 3sp Auto 3L30 (with electric TCC lockup clutch but is not an electronically shifted tranny)
MM5 = Manual 5sp Type 1?
M59 = 5 sp manual too. Type 2?

3L30: GM (a.k.a. since 1968 the TH180)
3 Speeds, with TCC lockup clutch. (& ECU controlled lockup)
This a Hydramatic (unlike the 4 speed) it has a valve body Hydra-matic brain, that decides, shift points.
Also used in 100,000 USPS Postal LLV delivery wagons; (LL = long life)
See 22 more cars its use on, here THM-180 began (circa 1968 to 1998 span) 

This transmission shifts by only a few factors: #3 is done totally in a different way, on a 4speed box.

  1. Vehicle MPH SPEED, the tail shaft governor, will set shift points.
  2. The driver demand input, this is the TV or Throttle Valve cable, that is also called passing gear (down shift)
  3. The Engine load, controls the shift points too, via the Vacuum modulator. (will cause the transmission to delay shifts going up a hill, due to vacuum dropping) or TCM load.
  4. The TCC lockup up is totally controlled by the ECU, it has complex tables for speed and load, stated in all FSM’s
  5. The gear selector position.

Check this page for the official symptoms and diagnostic reasons, for most failures.

GM RPO 3Speed codes are MX1 and MX65
Evolved to 4L30. (some parts inside, can swap)

See the slide show of the 3L30, here.

See TCC lockup failure page here.

DIY ATF (automatic trans fluid) draining. (no drain plug, makes a huge mess,if you don’t use a large catch pan)
ATF pan drain and fill is about 2 USA quarts. (measure what comes out, to know ) (2 times that or more if Torque converter clutch TCC, is removed)
The valve body is like a huge sponge, what drains out, pan off, is ANYONES GUESS!
Sadly, the TC has no dedicated drain plug. (same as pan, and today is very common, practice forcing owners and shops to do a real full flush and filter)
When drained, measure what came out, and put back what you took out, (was full before, sure)
The amount drained, is subject to what drained out the valve body and any check valves inside that leak down. Totally random amounts!
The TC check valve can leak a bit on old cars, and more fluid can come out.”pay attention on older cars”
Measure it after its drained. and add a drain plug, so if over filled, it’s not a big pain and a trip to the boat shop for a boat engine oil drain pump.
Add a drain plug to the pan before putting it back, so next time its more easy.
I found that draining it 3 times (DIY way), gets the fluid pink again from brown. (cheaper that the full flush charges)
Better is the full flush + filter at a pro shop. (for sure, if tranny is acting up, and at wits end)
Some times doing a full flush can clog some other vital part inside. (rare but if car has 300,000 miles and zero TRANS service, who knows?)
There is a risk doing service on any A/T that has been neglected.
Change it,every 50k miles and that will never happen.
Doing a pro grade full flush is best,at it gets it all out and now you don’t have 2 brands/grades, or more, of Dexron in this box. (mark III to mark VI).
Mixing AFT grades and brands is a pathway to trouble.
Do not run cloned Dexron ATF fluids, unless it says on the bottle it’s was licensed by GM Dexron. (actually tested)
Real Dexron VI, (or current max mark # ) is a great product! It has a synthetic base oil. It has very longer life, due to increased SHEAR stabilities.
In Gringo that means, it doesn’t get thinner as you drive.

Flush it until it GOES to pink for a week, daily driven.! That is what I do. It’s cheaper but extra work (DIY)
Do not use DEXRON III, that is now obsolete.. “All Dexron-III licenses expired permanently at the end of 2006,”
Do use Dexron-VI or higher number. DEXRON is down ward compatible. (but not to Dex#1)
The Mark VI base oil is made for far better group-III oils.

Common failures are:

  • Never done a full service.?
  • Filter (screens clogged in pan or governor)?
  • Old seals leak, there are many and some leaks add up to a huge leak inside and then you are stuck in 1st gear or it flares. (there are additives that you can use to soften them, temporarily.)
  • It’s now 25 years old and never rebuilt? (a kit with :new seals, steels, clutch packs, bands, bushings, thrust bearings and washer and servo’s, and a new TC)
  • Vacuum modulator leaks inside or the diaphram is cracked.?
  • TCC is dead. only.?
  • Detent “TV” valve stuck open and will not hold 3rd gear or TCC lockup?
  • The A/T has vast numbers of failure modes, and symptoms. (or compounded failures). Most shops do the ON CAR tests, and then correct, that which is bad. (what ever)

ratio: 1,2nd,3rd.

2.400 1.480 1.000

3 Speed: (any shifting problems or slipping) The TC is in blue below.

SUPER BASIC Diagnosis. A Macro to this FSM document.

  • Slips or Flare or false Neutrals? The PUMP is weak the FSM is clear, check the pressure. << this symptom will burn up clutch packs /bands.
  • The engine smokes, because the Modulator diaphram is cracked,letting the engine suck ATF fluid. Replace it. (it also, can leak 2 other ways or stick)
  • I can not get passing gear to work, TV cable is bad or the detent “TV” valve on the rear of the 3sp is stuck.
  • When I go up a hill, it don’t down shift right or at all, the VAC MOD is bad. (easy fix) (3 speed only)
  • My tranny will not shift up by its self based on road speed, the Goverorn is bad or its hidden screens packed (3sp) and or the above 2 are leaking/failing.
  • Stuck in 1 gear, see the above link, FSM.
  • Shifts right hot only, screens packed,
  • Shifts right cold only, leaks inside, anywhere. or weak pump.

Check the tranny fluid level per the Glove box operators guide. ( usually, done Hot, in park and running, it says cycle the gear lever first. )
The fluid difference from low to full mark is 0.3 USA quarts (1/3rd qt) do not under or over fill a tranny.
Check that the fluid is pink, not red, brown, or burgundy, and does not smell burnt, and has a sweet smell. Look for floating particles.

Adjust the shift linkage for proper positioning. if it is way off this could cause problems shifting.
If the filter on the bottom end clogs, the pump will go bad and the tranny will not shift correctly, so drop the pan and replace this filter. ( this could be the only problem!!!)
The oil cooler in the Radiator must not be plugged up or its lines pinched. ( check this carefully do not starve the pump )

Better yet, a full drain and new filter, every 30k miles.
If the fluid was not perfect looking and perfect smelling, drain it out and fill it fresh.
I do not believe changing fluid will ever hurt the tranny. If it runs good, just drain and fill, if not what is to lose with a full flush,?
But the so called FULL power flush can in fact damage a tranny, and GM forbids this practice in my newest FSM. (2004 Chev, Tracker real FSM, states that)
DETENT:? on both trannys.
The so called “TV”, Throttle Valve KICK DOWN function :
(the driver demand, kick down function) Also called the DETENT valve.
This cable can be seen in the above 1st frame photo, next to PN switch.
Check the kick down linkage TV CABLE for binding, sticking or out of adjustment. At the throttle linkage, both ends and the plunger it self, in the tranny for free operation.
Check this play at both the throttle-body (TB) and at the transmission itself.
Make sure that spring in the kick rod on the tranny casing, pulls the cable back. (not stuck out or in!)
Look for kinks and rust too at every point on this cable. Replace all binding parts.
Check kick down lever (if so equipped) at the side of the transmission, for freedom of movement..
TV cable adjustment is on 7A20, here, ACKFAQ shows 0.039 inches free play. never let it bind the throttle or suffer Toyota Syndrome

The Modulator (vacuum): (motor load kick down function)
Check the Modulator valve per the manuals, linked below.

The modulator delays shifting with increased engine load (vacuum);
Make sure the vacuum modulator valve diaphragm is not ruptured and leaking tranny fluid, at the vacuum port. (white smoke from tail pipe?)
This valve can fail many ways:
1: Diaphragm rupture and ATF leaking out the vacuum nipple. (and smoke (white) out the the tail pipe of engine)
2: It can jam up inside.
3: it can leak inside, wrecking the Gov feed line.
Replace it if you suspect it. (it takes a thin wrench to remove it).
The Vacuum modulator valves. love to leak (outside and inside,or push oil to the engine intake(tail pipe smoke?), easy to fix (compared to total tranny R&R)

The PUMP: ( many symptoms from this failure, from dead,to late limited shifting or FLARE)
Check the pump pressure (after a filter swap) for proper pressures, per the manuals below.
The side of the tranny has a pump test port.

Perform the A/T Stall Test. I now have stall test data, here and line pressure data, for all engines.

  • Transmission fluid at proper level pre the operators guide.
  • Do not run the engine (transmission really) at stall for more that 5 seconds. (if more stall tests needed, wait 30 seconds to repeat (cool off time)
  • Apply hand brake.
  • Set wheel chocks.
  • Get a tachometer if missing in dash.
  • Start engine. in Park.
  • Depress foot brake hard, say 50lbs force.
  • Shift to D, on the selector.
  • Depress the Throttle pedal fully. for only 3 seconds.
  • Read RPM max. write that down, my G16B car does about 2000 RPM, my V6 is spec’d at 2300- 2600 rpm.
  • Release the Throttle pedal.
  • See video of buddy, doing the STALL test. (note: you can check the MAF sensor at the same time.)
  • Repeat and do this for Reverse and Depress Throttle fully again. Take the RPM reading and release the throttle.
  • Write down the reverse gear stall, I should be about the same.
  • Let the trans cool for 3 minute and repeat as necessary to do the full set of tests.

If the RPM goes way high in the Stall test, this means the transmission slips (or worse flares) (if way too low, this is low engine power)
Do not drive any car with the transmission slipping, or you will make it worse fast.

3 Speed continued:

The 3L30 GOV: (this shift Governor device determines shift points, based on tail shaft or as we think, speed ).
The Rear Governor may be bad or damaged, it can be serviced by pulling the transfer case 4wd, to gain access to it.
A 2WD SidKick needs only the tail housing removed (and may take removing the cross member too.
The governor can be just plain worn out, or its screens clogged. or gummed up. All of its pieces are gummed.
Once Gov, is exposed it is best to just replace it. This is the hardest on car tranny repair.
A bad Gov causes the failure of high speed shifts. (gentle cruising)

Some people, pull the tranny pan and look at the main servo diaphragm (3sp), to see if it is cracked or just replace it.

Again, see the slide show.

The 5 things you can do for on car, fixes. (Fam

  1. A Pro shop full flush, with Clean the pan screen/ or replace pan area filter.( some have screen, others a real filter)
  2. Check the pump pressures (left side ports on tranny) and the stall tests at RPM’S per the FSM pages.
  3. Make sure the detent Kick down valve (or TV ) valve is not sticking. (passing gear cable)
  4. Replace the Governor valve and for sure its hidden screens. (easy on 2wd, hard on 4wd, the later needs xfr case remove, non trivial that)
  5. Replace the modulator, they fail 3 ways, including hidden internal leaks, (bad to the bone that)

Keep in mind, one very hard to find leaking 0-ring can kill the whole sheebang.


3L30 leaks: (pink ATF not speedo cable GL4 leaks) 
TV cable has an o-ring and it and the cable can crack and leak, most clone cables are no good, get an ATP cable from NAPA and sold at

Left side TCC connector o-ring failure.

The tail seal will be seen to leak directly on a 2wd but the 4wd the seal will leak to the hollow rear transfer case housing and down and to the botom vent.

The front seal or pump seals, are all out of car fixes. beyond my scope.
Pan leaks, get a new gasket
The Vacuum modulator valves. love to leak (outside and inside,or push oil to the intake(tail smoke), easy to fix (compared to total tranny R&R)
Shifter, rod, seal, ( I’d ignore it) way hard to fix. but, The JPAT number is 120-15-03 (here it is for a buck)
To find any leak, clean it,drive a short distance and look, or use the UV dye trick (kit) 2 ways. both work.
In all cases for leaks make sure the vent tube on top and all the way to the top of engine, is free and clear and not blocked.
Make sure radiator antifreeze is not in the ATF, (pull dip stick and look, see pink not chocolate milk shake)

Again, see the 3 speed slide show.

The best page on this tranny, is here and is showing all fails.

3 Speed Vacuum Modulator valve information: (purple stripe codes)

This device, communitcates engine load to the transmission and allows the transmission to shift gently with light loads or more forcefully when vehicle is fully loaded.
The vacuum port diaphraghm must not leak ATF or air, or the engine will smoke.
This device can fail and cause horrible shifting problems.
It can leak on the inside, the outside and push (suck) ATF up on to the induction and engine smokes like a Stanley Steamer.
This device comes in many color stripes, the worst one will be for the LLV postal carrier car. (late down shifts when used on a Suzuki heavy body)
Note ours is PURPLE. (the color changes the spring rates inside)
If there is no vacuum at this unit, the car will not want to shift up, it thinks you are driving up huge hills all the time.
No AFT drips and doing the industry standard leak down test with a real hand vacuum tool, is the first tests. It must NOT LEAK DOWN.
Do a standard Vacuum leak down test, on the vacuum port. It must not leak air. Pump the tool to 15 inches HG and see that it dont leak down in 1minute.

FSM Pages on topic:

and Here2

and also Here3.

The Modulator can jam (seize) in or out, or leak and fail in many ways. The leak can be inside (or at vacuum nipple) and hidden deep inside and cause great havoc.
A Cheap part, and huge cause of failures, for a simple $15 part. (I had tro make a tool to fit the nut, using a cheap china metric spanner, gound flatter.)

The modulator controls ATF fluid, feeds the shift valve. The kick down circuit can bypass this device.
The Normal wrenches don’t fit this part:
The tool that removes above (no longer sold by Suzuki) : The below, is one persons experience making said tool.
Take any cheap spanner 1-1/6″ or 30mm and grind spanner to 30mm and thickness to 3/16″ (4.5mm.) final size 30mm span,4.5mm thick.
The Best tool idea yet,was taking a cheap wrench from a 7 1/4″ Skill saw box, and file it to fit! They sell these in Home Depot.

3 Speed T.V ( the 4 speed is similar.)
The KickDown cable, also know as detent cable, and TV throttle valve cable devices, allows the driver to pass a car and down shift.
The 4speed has slightly different cable.
The drivers throttle angle, is fed via a simple cable to the detent TV valve at the rear or side of box, for both the 3sp and 4sp transmission.
The cable pulls as you advance the throttle and this pulls detent TV plunger valve 19/20.
If the detent TV device sticks out the transmission will take for ever to shift or might not ever reach top gear.
The valve #20 can stick or the cable can stick or snap, or be adjusted wrong. (cable nut at the actual throttle )
See that the kick down piston #19/20 moves under spring pressure, No? then it is seized.? (via the kickdown cable attachment point)

The 3 SPEED Governor at the tail shaft. (not found on any 4 SP < (it uses a TCM +VSS sensor)
This device governs, at what SPEED the tranny shifts (Vehicle Speed demand).

As RPMs (speed) of the tail shaft, increases? this device increases the fluid flow to the main blue GOV feed line, and controls all shifting.
A bad governor will make shifts late (or just not happen at all cold) and can just be dirty. Stuck in 1st gear?
Unlike other car transmissions, it’s not driven from a silly plastic gear. (and loves to fail for that)
Most Gov’s have a screen #7 inside, and looks like a thimble, it maybe packed with crud!
Just (4wd is hard to do) clean it, and retest tranny driving.
Some packed (clogged) screen Gov’s may shift ok after the engine fully heats up the tranny fluid. < poor service is the cause. running 100,000 miles service free, are you?
This screen is the only weak point in the design, it can clog,very easy,.killing the Governor dead.
The Governor has a centrifugal device #9, it uses this force, spinning fast, to send speed sensed, fluid flows to the main GOV line. This line activates the next shift point. (in the control valves).

end gov.

Recap: The 4 forces controlling shift points. (both tranny’s)

The 4 things that govern the shift points are?:
On a 4 speed, the Governor was deleted, for a Vehicle Speed Sensor (VSS2)., and the Vac. Mod is replace by, ECU load calculations (free info there)
The VSS in is a magnetic coil sensor located on the 4sp tail shaft and is wired to the 4speed TCM which then changes gears, by its commands to the solenoids.

  • Tail shaft RPM or SPEED (governor) (tail shaft spins the governor and it in turn modulates oil flow, in direct proportions.) ( 4SP this is done with TCM and VSS )
  • Vacuum (engine load) via the Modulator ( going up a tall hill can drop tranny to a lower gear) (4sp has no modulator and the TCM uses calculated ECU load and other inputs to shift)
  • Demand of driver, the TV CABLE. (KICK DOWN) ( when passing a car, you, drop down to a lower gear) The kickdown bypasses the Modulator.
  • Gear shifter, sure.


3 Speed Common failures: One FAST 3 speed Repair:
Poor maintenance
, please clean the bottom screen /filter and do a drain and fill, now this may help save the pump and bands from future death.

Top squawk:
Won’t shift into 2nd or beyond until motor/ tranny is warm.

Consider that cold AFT fluid pumps better but can not pass through clogged screens in the bottom pan or the screen in the Governor.
If hot ATF cause the fail then bad pump or leaks inside.
Remember that the Radiator ATF cooler must flow or the tranny will die.
Also, that Modulator can stick open and bypass all the Governor main feed.

The 3speed Hydraulic map 1: (IF the center red line has low pressure, all IS LOST, due to weak pump pressure) << gross transmission slippage?
Click the photo below to zoom.

If the pump tests ports pass the 2 tests in the FSM. then…
See the pump? see it feeding the Governor via the shift valve. Top right?
The governor opens as you go from zero MPH to any speed and allows pump pressure onto the BLUE feed.
The blue feed says, I’m moving lets shift when pressure gets higher.

This feed is called GOV. if Gov dies, so does DRIVE. Look at what DRIVE feed does?

If the Modulator sticks open ( it loves to do that or leak 3 ways) then the Mod valve DUMPS the GOV pressure feed to the PAN.
If you have shift points wrong, and the TV cable and dentent valve is good, and cable is not jammed, then (replace the MOD, now)

So, since the vac mod. valve is so much easer to replace than pulling the transfer case and is so vastly cheaper, and impossible to fully test, then replace it. $15
PUMP pressure 1st, then check detent action (not stuck) then replace the MOD. you need to grind down a cheap China spanner, to do that. no big deal.

The last fix is the replace the Governor, or to at least clean GOV screens, zoom on in the GOV and see the label “screen”.
On the 2WD car the tail shaft housing is vastly easier to remove, the 4wd has the whole transfer case in the way.
(on car service of the 4WD, Governor is not really too on car easy service but is listed that way.) A new tranny?, for some dirty screens, is bad idea…

Quick and Clean, with Gasoline!
I hope your slush pump is cured by my simple fixes.

Here is the Suzuki 3speed tranny failure symtoms and causes.
FSM 6 pages pages, (94 FSM 3L30)
See the full factory symptom diagnosis PDF here.

Again, see the 3 speed slide show.

Data: G16:

3speed stall test is: the stall tests is a function of just one thing, the engine Horse power, as the wheels are locked, weight is effectively infinite. (the TC is stock, not racing TC)
RPM = 2500-2900 RPM, hot engine, brakes hard set. in Drive. (if too low RPM then the engine is weak, if too high, the transmission is slipping, bad news that)
The too high RPM is key here, at wide open throttle.

3 speed line pressure tests are below:. Attached to the line test port fittings on the side of the casing.
There are 4 tests, and RPM and pressure
1) Attached to the line test port fittings on the side of the casing. lower front left side, near pan edge.
Stock dash tacho is ok, if fitted.

end 3speed topics.

THE GRAND OLD 4 SPEED Electronically Shifted A/T : (this base trans (A40series) A44DE, is used on many cars.)
03-72LE GM/GEO RPO code M41: LE= E for Electronic.
This is no Hyramatic. (it never desides, on its own to shift ever) The valve body is not a brain, like the 3speed.
The LE or A44DE has a pure electric shifted valve body, upgrade.
Ratio’s: 1=2.83:1, 2=1.49:1, 3=1.0:1, D=0.73:1 and R=2.7:1
Side of case TAG! See shop manual here. See chapter. 7B1

The 4 Speed: (electronic shifted transmission via TCM Transmission Control module in dash or in PCM)
The Aisin -Borgwarner A40 series, are used on many cars, Toyota’s and Volvo’s The A44DE is much the same.

Here is a nice list PDF, that shows the cars that use this series. A40x (with master overhaul kit 57006HCF)
The LE:
The TCM brain, does all shifting, but is controlled too by the TV kickdown cable, be sure its not rusted and jammped, (or can shift way too soon or late (stuck out,is too soon)
The Trannybox is just a dumb slave. (saving vasts amounts of complex mechanical parts, that love to fail with a speck of dirt)
You can shift manually if you, remove the TCM (pre 97′) if you don’t mind missing 2nd gear. (or pull the left of trans case connnector, per FSM)
The Tracker GM/GEO RPO label shows the tranny type in the glove box sticker, using the GM “M41” code.
The TCM box, actual, starting in 1997 was deleted and the logic of it was moved into the ECU, creating a PCM.
So don’t look for a TCM box, starting in 97+! Not only that, but the OBD2 scan tool, now shows all new transmission P07xx codes.
All early kicks have a seperate TCU unit under the dash.(with OD flash codes)

The valve body has no logic paths, it only has dampers (acuumulators to stop harsh shifting) it has the manual valve to select, gears. and solenoids.
In drive, the TCM shifts the box,via hyra-electric solenoid valves. the TCM operates these valves and the tranny shifts by TCM COMMAND.
The TCM has many inputs to, allow it to decide when to shift, under all conditions, and far batter than any hydramatic made.
(TV cable, engine true load, TPS angle, engine temperature ECT (effects ATF temp, and viscosity) engine RPM, and transmission tail shaft speed, (vehicle speed )

This Transmission is very common (but has a unique tranfer-case adaptor, called pig tail ) it is called the A40 Series or type. (used in base form,on old early 1980s Toyota’s)
This company Aisin Seiki makes this, and many transmissions.
These facts help when buying parts, like seals and shift soleniods.
The First letter is A means Aisin company made. (Suzuki version has a 4wd adaptor on the end.) (parts sellers call it that.)
The specifc part number is A44DE (the E means electric shifted) Is used on other cars like old 4wd Isuzu’s
It is even used on a 2.5L 2004 Suzuki V6. or 2006 Grand Vitara.

See Mr 4speed.
Note the long bell housing. and the lack of any Vacuum modulator. That unit at the rear, is the Transfer case 4wd
See the full 4 speed slide show here.

See the Detent “TV” valve cable behind the PRND2L switch? The PRNDL is attached to the Shifter valve switch seen below. The TV is clearly behind there..
This same box is used on a KIA SORENTO 3.5L, 4200 lb car. So, is no weakling, up to the older 4.2L Land Cruiser.

A44DE: I the more common name for this box.
This is the AISIN manufactured (Japan) 4speed. GM RPM code M41 GM buys them from AISIN.,
The Transmission is identified on all GEO TRACKER’s via the RPO tag in the glove box.
Some transmissions, are made in the GM transmission plant in France.
Keep in mind, this tranny can not shift itself, ever, but it can, how ever, delay shifts with that Kick down cable ( or TV= throttle Valve detent cable) above.
Rumors abound that parts are hard to find, no, that is not true.
Tranny drops to FAIL SAFE:
The tranny will skip 2nd gear in failsafe mode, and when when you activate the manual test mode.
The OD lamp flashes? That means…”failure”
We need to ask the TCM questions (scans), now! The TCM, sees a problem!, ask it?

The early TCM pre 97′, you get flash codes, with OBD2 cars, the errors are passed on to the ECU, and the ECU reports the error, eg. “P0700”.
There are a vast number of possible symptoms, any real Suzuki FSM (factory service manual) covers many.
Car won’t move, stuck in 1st gear, or other gear, late shifting, slipping, fails to down shift, skips gears, harsh shifting, delayed shifting. ETC!
Check fuses, check levels, check for OD lamp acting wrong, scan the PCM for transmission errors works on all cars made.
Do the service yet, or was it skipped for 1 decade.
Keep in mind a clogged filter, way cause, no shifting until ATF fluid gets hot (Dexron # VI is the current correct ATF to use.) Dex III is out of production.
If it only shifts cold, look for leaking seals.

Some, A/T can only shift hot, because the old seals are hard, and leak, but when warm, they expand and seal better.
A clogged filter staves the pump and some might pass fluid only hot.
Try that magic additive, that expands seals and pray?
This magic snake oil, can in fact make a transmission work right, but then it works too good and melts the seals, ending in a trans that never moves the car ever.
Check that the detent valve works right TV cable and its cam (in-out) as it enters the transmission case and is not jammed.

The diagnosis steps of the transmission (in car) are: (I’m not doing them all, there are so many)

  • You discover the lost 2nd gear, note OD flashing. Scan it.
  • Pull all Active DTC codes, see TALK above
  • If the tranny fails, the TCM can drop to Failsafe and you lose 2nd gear. so if you see 2nd gear missing and Codes set, don’t be thinking that gear is bad.
  • If any gear slips or flares, use manual mode now (see TALK above for how) if it still slips in manual test mode, the 4sp box is bad.(mechanical problem)
  • Do not condemn any BOX until the above is done. (make sure, the TCM is not sending the wrong signals to the solenoids, first!
  • The transmission fails the stall test.
  • The transmission fails the line pressure tests.
  • Using manual mode, gears 1,3 and 4 are all strong and do not slip going up any hill W.O.T. (wide open throttle)
  • Stuck in any gear, I’m sure will set a DTC,
  • Any other issues,.you will need get a real FSM and read it. Here is one online. see 1996 72LE transmission here.
  • You could hot wire the 2nd gear to test it or do all gears!, TCM unplugged. Like race cars drives do. They use home made shift box.

The FSM shows doing 3 major tests, first (after above)

  1. The Stall tests in Drive or 1st gear and Reverse. Pass /Fail.? hot and cold? The stall test is only 5seconds, do not exceed that, let tranny rest (30seconds) and repeat.
  2. Then the delay test, if above passes.
  3. Then the line pressure test. this test checks that the pump + regulator line pressure, is good, if not good, the tranny is bad. end story.

Line pressures, varies by Engine option, gear choice, idle and body weight moving, we are not moving. see here for 3L30, 3speed stall data. 
There are 4 tests and 4 numbers. stall, and idle, D range and R. All data from a stock TC, clutch. Not some high stall speed, racing clutch.
Keep in mind the stall test must pass first, to do the line test. If the tranny slips, you’re not really in gear.
H25 2.5L V6, D-idle = 55-63psi, D-stall = 161-181psi, R-idle =94-102psi, R-stall=209-323psi
J20 2.5L I-4, D-idle = 54-61psi, D-stall = 138-159psi, R-idle = 75-84psi, R-stall=183-220psi.

G16, 4speed, line presssure, is:
D-idle=55-63psi., D-stall=166-188psi, R-idle= 73-81psi, and R-stall=202-237
Stall data: Select Drive or Reverse.
2,100 – 2,400 r/min. (RPM) for G16 engine

2,300 – 2,600 r/min. for H25/J20 engine

See the full 4 speed slide show here.

TCM Schematic FSM 96 (typical 92-96)

TCM connector 95 TCM connector

TCM 92-96 schematic, poor

The below is how to test TCM outputs, or just to see the shift logic.
My Solenoid shift tester with 2 LED’s. This test Will prove out problems with 4 gears, is it tranny or TCM?

The TCM got moved to a new home in 1997.
97+ 1.8L virutal TCM

97+ 1.6L virtual TCM 

The 4sp has similar mechanics (gears) like a 3L30,3 speed, but this tranny has a TCM (transmission control module) a Computer controller.
The 4sp pump pressure tests are just as important as the 3speed.
The 4sp has a higher load rating and is used on many other larger and heavier cars.
This tranny box is called a A44DE and is used in many cars. (even Land Cruiser with 4.2L engine)
Never ignore the fluid filter on any automatic.
A clogged up filter overloads a perfectly good oil pump.
It can kill the bands and clutches, because this causes a weak pump, and allows the bands to slip, way too much.
The bands slipping, will destroy clutch packs and bands, in short order. Never drive any A/T when you feel slip.
Never drive any car with a slipping tranny. ( my joke is: how can you tell if it slips?, it is a slush pump, after all, LOL)

Jargon: Engine Controller Unit, Torque Converter Clutch, and TPS is Throttle position sensor, and Tranny = transmission. OEM= original equipment manufacture.

Service points ATF automatic transmission fluid, is (DEXRON-III or higher!),
A new filter, all Solenoids check, kick down cable failure same as 3sp, ‘s, TCM, wiring, connectors.
The 4sp has no physical governor, as this is done by an electronic
TCM tail shaft speed sensor and load calculations.
The 4sp does have the old kick down cable for passing.
Nor does the 4sp have Vacuum modulator this “LOAD” value is calculated by the TCM using load factor from the ECM, and TPS.

Those are my tips, on Sidekick automatic transmissions.

Do not fail to buy an FSM, with huge support inside. $20 on Fleabay.

Manual mode:

So you unplug the TCM the box is now in manual mode (per FSM)
You will need to wind out 1st gear (L) to 3000) RPM and then manually shift to 2nd gear (its really 3rd in this mode) and RPM drops 3:1 (ratio drop) and RPM is not 1000 RPM with engine pretty much
overloaded, so be on flat ground. now go faster, see if you can get RPMs up to say 2500 RPM and shift to drive. (D), do all 3 gears work and not slip.?
Wind out 1st and then float the throttle and shift, or car will jerk, or cut the throttle and shift, like a stick shift. (you will feel engine braking)

Crossovers: or finding junk yard parts that fit… A44DE and A40 series.
Other cars that use the A44DE box, Kia Sorento 04, 92-95 Kia Sportage, 98-05-Mazda MX5, Many Suzuki-GVitara,Sidekicks, X90,XL7s, Toyota-Hi-Ace.,

No parts, No way! vast sources:
4speed full valve body parts list and kit (Suzuki actual)

Kits, parts and books on your transmission are here.

Trans parts USA:


About $1200 to $1500 is exhange cost, see that here. The core is $500 so make sure you have a good core.

Full parts list for all tranny parts including performance rated parts (HD).
For the really curious:

These are not identical, but it is the same base box A40 4sp, except transfer case adapter and Valve body.

And most have the wrong valve body, our body is a DE body. (remotely electric shifted) Lets say you need a planetary gear set?

Some guys, took out their A44DE and put in a real hyrdmatic trans from below and trashed the TCM. (minding tail shaft 4wd adaptor…)
DODGE D50 PICKUP 2 4L — L4 — 3 0L V6 1987-89 AW372 (A44D)
DODGE D50 PICKUP 3 0L V6 4X4 1987-89 KM148 (A44D)
DODGE RAIDER 1987-89 AW372 (A44D)
DODGE RAIDER PICKUP 2 4L L4 — 3 0L V6 1987-89 AW372 (A44D)
DODGE RAIDER PICKUP 3 0L V6 4X4 1987-89 KM148 (A44D)
DODGE RAM 50 1987-89 KM148/A44D
GEO TRACKER 1 6L L4 1996-98 03-72LE (A44DE) 
ISUZU AMIGO 2.6L L6 1992-95 03-72L (A44DL)
ISUZU IMPULSE 2.0L — 2.3L L4 1988-89 03-72L (A44DL)
ISUZU IMPULSE 2.0L L4 W/TURBO 1986-87 03-72L (A44DL)
ISUZU PICK-UP 3.1L V6 1988-95 03-72L (A44DL)
MAZDA MIATA 1.8L L4 1998-99 A44DE 
MITSUBISHI MONTERO 2.6L L4 — 3.0L V6 (4X4) 1990-5/94 AW372L (A44DL)
MITSUBISHI MONTERO 2.6L L4 (4X4) 1987-89 KM148 (A44D)
MITSUBISHI PICKUP 2.6L L4 — 3.0LV6 1987-89 AW375 (A44D)
MITSUBISHI PICKUP 2.6L L4 — 3.0LV6 (4X4) 1987-89 KM148 (A44D)
SUZUKI SIDEKICK 4 DOOR 1.6L L4 1992-98 03-72LE (A44DE)
SUZUKI SIDEKICK 4 DOOR SPORT 1.8L L4 1996-98 03-72LE (A44DE)
SUZUKI X90 1.6L L4 1995-98 03-72LE (A44DE) 

TOYOTA 4 RUNNER 2.4L L4 1989-91 A44D
TOYOTA VAN 2.0L — 2.2L L4 1984-86 A44DL

3L30 TH180: The 3 speed box. 1968 to NOW. Pure Hyramatics. (but may or may not have TCC)

  • 1981–1986 Bitter SC
  • 1971–1975 Opel Ascona A/Manta A/Rekord 1900
  • 1969–1973 Opel GT
  • 1971–1983 Fiat 124
  • 1975–1978 Fiat 131
  • 1975–1981 Fiat Brava
  • 1977–1979 Peugeot 604
  • 1981–1982 Fiat Spider
  • 1983– Rover Vitesse
  • –1984 Rover 2300/2600
  • 1969–1975 Opel Olympia; Kadett B/C
  • 1968–1986 Some Opel-Vehicles (for example Opel Rekord-C to E and Opel Commodore-A to C Series)
  • 1978–1987 Chevrolet Chevette (most smart people, crushed the car and sold it as raw metal in brick form to USS.)
  • 1981–1987 Pontiac T1000
  • 1987–1994 Grumman LLVeh. postal van 100,000 USPS postal RHD cars. LL = long life.
  • 1989–1998 Suzuki Sidekick, mostly on USA 2 door cars.
  • 1989–1998 Geo Tracker (ditto)
  • 1969–1980 Holden Torana
  • 1970–1980 Holden Belmont/Kingswood/Premier/GTS
  • 1970–1971 Holden Brougham
  • 1970–1977 Holden Monaro
  • 1971–1984 Statesman
  • 1978–1988 Holden Commodore

This list for USA citizens, shows you just how hard, it is to scrounge up any tranny parts for the 3speed.


Documentation Manuals, books, and the Official FSM : 
Below are the full service manuals on both transmissions
TSB’s ( FACTORY Tech- knuckle Services Bulletin’s)

Some manuals are here.

My pages, are no substitute for the full chapter on the same subject in the FSM. Here is on example of a 1996 FSM and all of chapter 7 (in volume 1 and 2)

Chapter 7B1 is very good in this nice PDF 2000 year, a real Suzuki book, and allows searching, unlike many others. (See diagnosis there)
Above real Suzuki book with real diagnostic charts. Extensive on car tests.

General Transmission facts :

Quoting above

“If the problem is not low fluid, a faulty solenoid, valve body or controller, the transmission usually has to come out for a tear down and inspection.”
Mostly/Partly true.
We surely can change any solenoid ON CAR. Sure can. On some cars, not. Some cars the Valve body must be removed first..

Great advice:

More, yes there are more books.

The #1 killer of transmissions, is lack of service, and old hard seals inside. (up to 25 years old on some cars) (abuse, entropy and fate)

Odd facts and basic questions people ask.
Q1: Why can’t I can’t get 10 odd pints,of DEXRON drained out via pan or drain? 5 quarts.?
Who said you could?, reading the (total rebuild capacities are you?)
The TC (torque converter main clutch) will not drain by itself, nor has it a drain plug like, yonder years, (1950s) but that costs 10 cents so, was deleted. (making someone very rich)
Consider the Valve body a huge sponge , you will never ever get it to drain 100% not even 1/2, sorry!, it is,what it IS.
So, Drain it and repeat, until the fluid looks GOOD. (or get a full service)
As you can see 1/2 the fluid is hiding, mostly in the TC. and a 1/2 qt, in the valve body, Accumulators,boosters, clutch pack piston bores, etc. (yes, it will and does hide fluids)

There 3 sets of Capacity numbers:

Q2: If I have up to 8 quarts (16 pints) of bad black tranny fluid in my tranny now,how can 2 Quarts drained, cure this?
It can’t! not in one easy step. How could it? It is not designed to do this, at all.
The torque converter can not be drained (no plug) and holds 1/2 the fluid) (yes, it’s full of dirty ATF TOO)
(but it can be replaced, if you repeat the draining, 3 times, after driving 10 miles)
( I buy 9 quarts (18 pints) of Dexron (6 or VI) and then drain and fill it 3 times, during a week of driving.)
or drive 10 miles, drain/fill repeat. (until clear or happy)
At the 3rd cycle the Fluid is pink/red. (in most cases) (some brands are not pink, I’LL NOT GO THERE!) My post is 100% spec. GM ATF. (pink)
Or any full flush in any PRO ASE SHOP.

Risk, hype, BS, half truths and EPA meddling Gov crap:

POWER FLUSH at your own risk, GM forbids it, in newer FSM’s “yes, I read the manual” I wonder if the EPA forced them to say that. I bet yes.

The EPA thinks one drop of AFT on mother earth, destroy’;s the earth, So lies to you, saying, trust us, (hint 1) you never change it, ever. (trust us).
How do you tell when a politician is fibbing?, when he/she says trust me.!…
There is a risk of starving the pump during a power flushing (at home DIY). (done WRONG) nor let the pan go dry doing so… do not let the the tranny pump run dry.
And of other issues of breaking up loose filth, on very abused tranny’s. (sure that is real)
If tranny is well maintained, most pro.’s say, I see no harm in professional power flushes. EVERY 50K miles!
But,do be cautious of who does it and HOW and what flush machine types. (do you trust a 16 year old kid to flush your tranny with zero training?) (at the local Joker-lubes)
Some newer ways, are better. check it out. Do not use power flush systems, that use its own internal pumps.
Do your own research and take your own risks. It is after all,your slush pump.
Personally, I avoid buying cars with an A/T and if forced (wife) the dip stick is pink day one, or I WALK.

Can I use DEXRON IV, sure,it’s downward compatible to DEX -II (inclusive) Buy what you see, on the shelf! with DEXRON on the label.

Buy DEXRON VI, that is current. and is BEST.
Make sure it says, on the back of bottle of ATF container, “licensed by DEXRON”, this means GM tested it.

You can send in a test sample of ATF oil to a test lab, most come back saying, (50k on clock) “you needed to do this 10k ago.” 10k means 10,000 USA miles.
You can too. send it in. Google that…for all labs.

At the least, drop the pan and get a new filter. huh?

NON OEM PARTS sources,other than Suzuki (3sp and 4sp).
3SP bad tail bushings.

99cent extension housing bush:

Geo tracker 3sp parts


Deluxe overhaul kit:, including CDROM overhaul book.(extra).

TransTEC great news on parts.


base page for manuals all:

More facts, tech data, and parts listed here at Sonnax (search by make of tranny, not Suzuki)

Tranny Swaps: (theory, based on parts lists, and helping many)


TOP QUESTION (no, the 3/4speed can not be interchanged, with out 20 hours labor and a donor car) (swap: tranny, harness, TCM, mounts, prop shafts, etc.)
They are not EQUAL in any way, shape or form.
Yes, maniacal people do it and wish they had their lives back later. I’d swap in a 5sp first.
The Slush pump today, now has 9 speeds!, this is the attempt to get rid of some of that SLUSH, that is, end slippage and the gross waste of fuel from heat, caused by that slippage.
This old transmission does do well, at full speed in top gear locked up (TCC) But at idle and slow speeds and accelerating, this transmission wastes energy (fuel)
These transmissions, can fail in a vast numbers of ways, its almost mind boggling, they run at all,with such complexity and numbers of parts. 100s. (take one apart, just one time, and gape and wonder…)

I highly recommend buying a used real SUZUKI FSM off fleabay, for your used car, especially this old. and see the transmission sections, there are at least 3. or more.
One section covers, on car service, read that. then look at the tables, in the failure symptoms and caused lists. (it is a short list, I can tell you, looks big but is not near complete)
Keep in mind, the 4sp can do NOTHING without the brain, but you can set it up to manually shift. with no brain, in 5min work. (a top test)


Odds & Ends: Breathers
4speed ID 25 is the vent cap and hose to tranny vent is 23.
The vent cap is commonly missing, and confuses owners seeing loose hose. this is the High water mark point, Vent. The axles have similar vents up high.

The vent below is ID 22 to 25, 25 goes to the transfer case vent.


What is a full service: 
First off the USA Gov,. EPA forces car makers to lie, they tell you the big lie, “the transmission never needs service.”
The EPA wants the ATF to last forever on the blind stupidity that changing it out causes leaks and pollution during service, what inane mother hens.
It’s all recycled now, and is valuable in that form, worth at least $1 a gallon used.!!! Why not make it more valuable? or pay folks that turn it it. NOW THAT WOULD BE SMARTER!
Don’t listen to the EPA or the manufactures that parrot this
What if the transmission explodes from zero service and pukes ATF all over the freeway, yah, the fish or you get to drink that…!. some dimbulb never thought about that.
If super green and smart?, (I don’t hate you) do like truckers do, test the stuff.
1: Is it turning funny colors (not red but heading to TAR?) then get it the hell out of there.
2: See metal flakes on the dip stick end (if in fact it’s not missing the dip stick, I’ll not go off topic on that horror) then get it changed out. NEW DEXRON VI.
3: if not sure?, then get it tested. next.
If you want to prove this, then get your A
TF lube tested at any oil test lab for $25 and see for yourself, The lab will not lie! ( 6 times less than a full service)
At 50k, miles many testers state, it want bad 10,000 miles ago…

Get a full flush and replace the filter at least every 50k miles, light duty and more often in FULL SERVICE.
(at the least drain out 3 quarts (liters) and put in fresh DEX 6. The transmission will LOVE YOU. Do it 3 times and it’s paradise
Dropping any 3sp full drain pan is NO PICNIC. (oil everywhere but you can add a drain plug for next time!) Please use a large drain pan larger than the tranny pan.! sans plug.
If 4wd the dang prop shaft is in the way too.
The 4sp has a drain plug. (easy peasy)
If you study all cars with A/T before the EPA  hit the fan, the books all show, 50,000 miles service points. (mostly)
In many cases the transmission is IDENTICAL!
In other countries the same car, does not come with a book with EPA. I wonder why? (read any European FSM and bam, no  and the same exact gear box inside.)

Transmissions are just like a baby diapers. really.. Remove diaper, full flush, put fresh diaper back, and be happy. <(best post seen on the internet, and true)

The factory manual does not know that DEXRON III was de-certified. USE DEXRON VI now. DEX 6.
Do not let scalpers sell you DEX -III on the silly notion you need it. more lies and 

Keep in mind 10% of the ATF is additives, and if now bad, they need to be replaced, do a full flush to get in fresh DEX 6.
The new DEX 6 can run hotter and has greater SHEAR stability. (means it don’t thin out with age, cook to sludge)
Just one newer part of DEX 6, is a great additive that keeps seals soft.

Dexron is downward compatible and well adviced to use then newer product.
Dexron 1 was Whale oil, i’d not try to buy that… LOL.

Dexron is a GM product and licensed by them and REAL DEX 6 is the best to run.

Best is to have a full pro flush with DEXRON VI (real) some clones of DEX are junk. (not all, but many) (back of bottle must say LICENSED by DEXRON)

ATF = Automatic Transmission Fluid, a generic name, not a BRAND or TYPE.
Try hard not to mix brands of fluid.

  • In a real shop for pro flush, (jacks and jack stands or lift)
  • (4wd needs front drive prop shaft drop,4 bolts do not let yoke fall out of xfr case or get a nasty GL4 flood GL means gear lube…)
  • On the 4speed, remove the drain plug and get about 2.5 quarts, (varies by many factors)
  • 2sp, Drop the pan, and below a huge catch pan to catch the flood
  • Clean all magnets, see here and clean all that crap out of the pan. (wow, just look at all this dust and metal mud and no shavings???)
  • Replace the filter. (or clean screen)
  • Put back pan with new gasket and plug. See Torque below.
  • Connect full flush machine (never the kind using inside the flush machine, pumps ever)
  • Add one quart (1L) to the dip tube so tranny pump has a starting point. this qt will be lost in battle.
  • Start the engine, and the transmission sucks in fresh fluid, from machine, and expels the old ATF to the machine capture tank.
  • This will take more fluid than the book on your A/T states, this is to get out all the old bad ATF. (consider: “the best solution to pollution is Dilution”) yes, it does take more, this is no stick box or axle.
  • Don’t complain about excess ATF, if that bothers you, then don’t do the service at all. (ever buy a new tranny?)
  • The Fact is, the A/T box was never designed to be drained 100% nor anywhere close to that, period.
  • The Fact is, the TC is full of fluid and a nasty mess in there. Getting it all out, takes, time,skill, money and hard work. (a pro flush is JUST THAT)

IMO. (try not to skimp on fluids, ATF is way cheaper than any gears an 20x less than labor/parts to fix them, smile and be HAPPY!) or next time buy a stick shift. (really)

Do not believe rumors, even mine, get your oil tested by and oil test lab and find out the truth, yourself.

For sure, I can not tell you when your transmission needs service, but you can lab test the oil. (any oil)


Pan bolts, and friends, spec. torque is:
In, Inch pounds, not foot.

3speed pan 115 in/lbs
4speed pan 40 in/lbs
3sp screen, 168 in/lbs
4sp filter 50 in/lbs
3sp pan plug 156 in/lbs.

if you don’t like inch pounds?, feel free to divide by 12. to got feet. (shop math)
Fluid Capacities:

There are 3 sets of Capacity numbers: 

  • Simply drained out, about 5 to 6 pints, pan off, filter off. What you see is what you get. period. (levels correct hot)
  • A Full rebuild is 10.5 pints (3sp) to 14.5 Pints (4sp) new clutch, or it was DRAINED by HAND.
  • A Full Flush? 20 pints? (but this number varies, because you waste fluids to do a full flush) This might take 3 more quarts to get clear RED fluid.


YMMV, your tranny may vary.


Lets say, the stall tests fails, hot or cold or both, and or the line pressure tests fail, and you did a full service “filter, and you know for a fact, the transmission is bad.
The TH180 modulator was replaced and has vacuum at idle!!!
The TH180 governor screen, was cleaned., and still can’t shift to 2nd, or 3rd.
The Detent valve is not stuck out.!

You pull the trans. I’ll not show how to do that because, both the 1996 FSM does covers that (and and is same on all, Sidekicks, Trackers, and Vitara’s (only 2wd/4wd changes the plan )
You can also watch 100s of others on YouTube pull a transmission. (pretty much all 4wd, pull the same way)
The transmission is on the floor of the shop.
( a transmission jack is pretty much necessary, but you can modify a trolley jack to have a bottom plate and strap.

You now must decide 3 paths,
Buy a rebuilt tranny for say $1500 or find a tranny shop to do yours for far less. In your town or near.
Do the the rebuild yourself with full kit, all seals, clutch packs & steels, thrust washers and all bearings/bushings. (the good kits are near $300 and worth every penny)
or (if your kick is a stump pulling kick only then… lots of time, and no road license at all)
Take it all apart, and try to find the cause?. (oh look here, this one o-ring is cracked,.your call, to replace 1 part and put it all back together. (I’d never do this) If I was 17 again?, sure, in a heart beat.

The first things to do, that all books in print fail to say, is DO YOU know what bad parts look like? (experience) bad bearings, thrust washers, blued parts, abnormal wear, bad end play. etc.?
Can you take it apart and not reverse any part, going back in? (use camera to track your disassembly?) Have lots of space to lay the parts out in order, we did one, on a 16 foot long table.
Will you get the valve body out and not lose those check balls. or misplace them?
If not? get a pro to rebuild your box.

Lets say you feel frisky? I’m retired, and still would.
The first step, is to buy 2 books. and 1 CD.
Read this first from Chilton’s, 8944, it has lots of good information, you need to ignore their old 1980’s and very much older examples. Great theory and weak diagnosis.

Better is the GM book by Cliff Ruggles, sold in all book stores. He has 2 books, I have them, but the best one, is the one closer to our, 4sp. 

The next thing to get is the real CD repair book that matches your transmission, The A44DE or the TH180, the former 4sp is a A40 series box.
The A44 uses only electrical operated clutch packs, it has NO BANDS, It has no band adjustments, that many hope for, and never find. Getting OLD SCHOOL advice?
The TH180 is a very old designed 1968 box, it has a Low band and is not adjustable like in the dark ages of A/T. (long ago, auto-adjustment was invented, ending this,era)
Clutch packs are in fact, stronger than bands, so all modern cars use clutch packs. The 3sp is a hybrid of 1 band and clutch packs.
Clutch packs make the more box narrow, and more room for passengers in the front seats of car.
Not only that, the new cars have 9 speeds, no way is there going to be 9 speed bands. (EPA MPG mandates, caused “C.A.F.E” more laws)

DIY? Do It Yourself?
You will need a new TC clutch, as the old one will be full of crap inside, that is impossible to get out!
The hard part, is making up, all the special tools for your shop press. The Cliff books, cover making up you own tools.

To rebuild this 4speed, you need at least, a masters kit.
With all new clutch packs, with a full steel kit. (id not try to use old steels, many will be warped or blued and weak now)
If parts turn blue, that means annealing (soft) (not true with bands, a whole other subject)
All New Bushings, and thrust washers.
All new seals, gaskets and O-rings, like seen here.
 Daunting, huh? (a stock generic photo)
and the A40 series, book on CD_ROM a PDF book is sold at the same place, the kits are sold.
A44DE the base transmission for 03-72LE box. The base design is called A40 or A40 TYPE class.
The A44DE is just base A40 with a rear 4WD adapter and a brand new Valve body, solenoid activated, solenoid/hydraulic valve shifted.
There is no Hydraulic brain or logic here on the 4speed, like the 3L30 has (TH180)

But, as we all know, once taken apart, fate always wins.. after all, many are 25 years old now. Just what parts are bad? answer all the above in photo and more.
Oh gosh, the pump is a wreck… or look here, a planetary gear set has GONE nasty.
Takes about a week, to do, if you have a day job.

A Good book to read, and is for TH400 as base principles are same, if you already know how to these the solenoids. The 4L60E book here might cover solenoid testing?
Do read how to use shop air pressure, to test all piston servos on the bench. (the pack works and don’t leak)
That way, you know the transmission will work in the car. (solenoids willing)
This tests the clutch pack piston seals and the whole pack does release. (and the free play clearance too)

I have all books by Mr. Cliff Ruggles, on Automatics.
The best is the one, that has and E at the end. eg: 4L60E. (Electric shifted) Great step by step photos. and tips. Lots of comments on inspecting parts for damage!
Finding good books on TCM shifted transmissions, is very limited, despite almost 30 years of usage, for sure on this car 1992 to present.
What we need is a good A40E box book. There is one good A40 CD book.
They (YouTube) have this Video, 1 of 2, this is last one. for 4L60E, showing the electric trans. (watch the whole series, and then decide if this is DIY)

This is key to success on the bench is You can operate each clutch pack piston and shift to each gear, with air.
Finding TRUE, A40 series, help, books and Videos is hard. (Only 1 CD sold by ASTG for Toyota’s)

When reading the A40 books, ignore all information on the pure hydramatic valve body. Your A44DE has an Electric Valve body, missing all those other parts.

An Example of a TH180 kit, is here. Less that about $100? I think this is real, a match.

Parting shot:
Like any engine rebuild, the transmission is the same, what you find bad inside is purely a matter of age, abuse, and fate.
All the best planning, will not avoid fate, or natural Entropy.
I hope my page, pushes you to a best solution, and best for you.

The best line in all my books was: Paraphrased, not quoted.
I took it apart and kitted it but never saw the reason for the failure. (oops’) better do some air pressure tests.? now.
and if a 4 speed, all new shift solenoids now, is justified. They can not be 100% tested on a bench (I might, but I have special tools, hand built)
At no time on my page, do I attempt to know what is best for you or your car, what you use the car for, I’ve not a clue.
Have one poster driving with no TCM for years… the 3rd gear clutch disks take a beating like this…

ATF, automatic transmission fluid (Dexron(tm) III or higher. VI is Current. (I like to joke and call it a slush pump)
TCC= torque converter clutch, TCM= transmission control module, tranny= transmission, there are over acronyms codes for car parts at the
TC lockup, the lock that locks the TC, is TCC locker. and is solenoid controlled by TCM (PCM)
PCM, power train control module (Brain) that runs engine and transmission (1997+)
ECT= coolant temperature sensor, TPS= throttle position sensor, A/T =Automatic transmission, M/T guess?
ECU= engine controller Unit, new name for this is PCM or powertrain control module.
TPS, throttle position sensor.
OD =over drive. or 4th gear. and matching lamp, that can flash when angry…
Detent synonym’s”
Detent cable is a bad name for the TV cable. but is very common in the industry, A/T TV cable is better or passing gear cable… as is kickdown (it also effects kick ups)
Detent cable or, TV cable means Throttle Valve cable or Kickdown cable or passing gear, The Cable actions cause early or late shifting.
The TV cable is calibrated at the throttlebody and is covered in the FSM (this example is 4sp).

The Power button, changes shift harshness from teenagers to grandma. (P = hotrod, N = grandma) power /normal
I/P = Instrument panel (aka: speedo cluster)
Vacuum modulator (the engine load sensor) 3speed only box. if the diaphram cracks the engine smoke real bad. and load sensing dies.
VSS = Vehicle Speed sensor (MPH)
PRNDL = the shift lever (yes, it too has Detents) and switch that does this, park reverse,neutral, drive and low 2nd) might be PRND2L on some…

Best place for asking questions is FixKick forum.

2 thoughts on “Automatic transmission “slush pump” diagnosis”

  1. Thanks great info here for future reference im sure

  2. Hi , thanks for the huge information.
    I was trying to find in the article about automatic transmission fluid level troubleshooting. I’m having hard time to level my 1998 suzuki sidekick 4×4 automatic transmission fuid level . I installed brand new in crate automatic transmission to my car , after i started put the aft in cold high level , all i can say that when the engine is hot and drove it for ten minutes and shifted in all positions, i checked the deep stick it’s shows empty. I left the car overnight and checked the deep stick it shows back to cold high posision . When it’s hot theres no oil and when it’s cold it comes back to cold high level , this thing confusing me . Is there something i missed to do or check ? I highly appreciate you in advance.


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