3rd Gen 4runner Having Odd AT Issues

Applejack

Explorer
So let me cut to the chase here. '99 4Runner Limited, Automatic, 141,000 miles. Had been my DD up until a month ago when I bought a car for the chore of DD'ing. Never had a problem, always well maintained. Had the transmission serviced less than 8000 miles ago.

Early last week I back out of my driveway to re-park my 4runner which had sat for 5 days undriven and it could barely drive back up the 15 feet of driveway. It acted as though the parking brake was on, but it wasn't. I repeated the process again with the same result, 4runner revving up but hardly moving at all for the amount of engine speed. I backed down a 3rd time, sat at the bottom of the driveway a minute scratching my head, and began the climb up the 8% grade again. This time it drove as normal. I took it for a 15 minute drive after that and it showed no unusual symptoms, and later took it for a drive into the hills to gather firewood for a weekend camping trip. Drove perfectly.

It sat for 4 more days until Friday. I packed it up and when I left to fuel up, again I didn't let it run for more than 25 seconds before leaving the driveway, and once again it would barely move down the road. I pulled up to the curb outside my house and sat for about a minute, pulled away from the curb and it drove normal. Fueled up and took off on our 400 mile trip, and it hauled it's 5500lb mass up long steep grades with no signs of any issue from the transmission.

Anyone have an educated guess as to what this may be? So far it only happens when it has sat for several days, and when it's driven cold.
 

thefatkid

Observer
Look to see if the rear axle seals are leaking. If you get gear oil on the rear brake shoes they drag, if not lock up when cold. They get better when warmed up.

Also, check your transmission fluid level when cold. Make sure it is in the cold range. Drive it for 15miles or so, drive aggressive, check fluid level when hot. There are 2 levels on your dipstick marked for easy use. If fluid is on the low side, along with the 8% grade you might be sucking air.
 

Applejack

Explorer
Fluid is good, seals are good. It seems that it would have to do with something other than the brakes, as long as the engine warms up for a minute before driving all is good.
 

phsycle

Adventurer
Have you dropped the pan? Find any sludge? I've read about another guy having a similar issue. Turned out to be sludgy fluid clogging up the transmission when cold. When warmed up, it moved through the system enough to seem normal.
 

86Runner

Member
It may seem random, but how old is your battery? I have heard of similar issues with these auto transmissions due to a weak or old battery. Google it. It's weird.

Many people had similar types of issues. It seems that it could be right after starting that it has the issues because it sucked the battery down a little, and after a couple mins it may bounce back up to battery levels it likes to run the trans servos, etc correctly.
 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
Here is another random one. My truck once got stuck in 4wd. I know, it sounds too obvious, but I had hit the button to go back to 2wd and the actuator stuck and it was still in 4wd. It felt like hell on the road. Steering was weird. It took twice the power input to back up and turn.
Just a thought. Let us know how it turns out.
 

Applejack

Explorer
I have not dropped the pan, so I don't know if it's sludgy in there or not, might do that and take a look. I did have the transmission serviced, including cleaning the torque converter around 8k ago, and the transmission was serviced when I first bought it @ 102k.

The battery is pretty new, less than a year, Optima yellow top.

SOAZ, when yours was stuck in 4WD was the indicator light on, or can it get stuck in 4 with out the light being on? I had no indicators on of any kind and I would say that it felt like power was reduced to about 15%, seriously, it would barely move.

Thanks for all the suggestions you guys and trying to help out but I think I may throw in the towel today and take it to my mechanic. I fear it's going to be one of those chasing down phantoms type of thing.
 

keezer37

Explorer
If your trans isn't hunting for the right gear also, I think it's your torque converter. Before taking it in, I'd change the filter. Maybe even do this twice giving it a few hundred miles in between. Between the new filters and fluid you replace when changing it, it may bring your fluid pressure to where it needs to be and solve your problem. It's about all you can do on your own but beyond this, it tends to get costly so it's worth the effort.
 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
I have not dropped the pan, so I don't know if it's sludgy in there or not, might do that and take a look. I did have the transmission serviced, including cleaning the torque converter around 8k ago, and the transmission was serviced when I first bought it @ 102k.

The battery is pretty new, less than a year, Optima yellow top.

SOAZ, when yours was stuck in 4WD was the indicator light on, or can it get stuck in 4 with out the light being on? I had no indicators on of any kind and I would say that it felt like power was reduced to about 15%, seriously, it would barely move.

Thanks for all the suggestions you guys and trying to help out but I think I may throw in the towel today and take it to my mechanic. I fear it's going to be one of those chasing down phantoms type of thing.
For me the indicator was not illuminated. It looked like I was in 2wd. Reverse was the most difficult. Because of the 4wd the trucks suspension almost felt like it was squating (preloading the suspension) when I went into reverse.
Just to make sure whether it's the transmission or something with the rest of the drive train put the truck in 2wd neutral and see if you can get it to roll in reverse and forward. If it rolls nice and easy then nothing is dragging like the rear drums. It would have to be with the engine/transmission/transfer case.
 

Applejack

Explorer
My mechanic back flushed the tranny today. He said it sounded like a valve was sticking, although he couldn't get it to do what it has been doing, of course. Anyway we'll see where this gets us. If it happens again I'll drop the pan and do the filter.
 

Applejack

Explorer
Update**

My mechanic back flushed the system and it has not had it's issues since, but I have been wondering about another potential issue, and this one is not new it actually has been going on for some time.

This maybe normal but I thought I would check and see with some of you who have AT equipped 4RNRs. When I am driving slow (10mph or under) and let off the throttle to coast, when I apply throttle again the engine will rev for a moment before any more power is actually sent to the wheels. Anyone else notice this with theirs.
Normal? Not Normal?
 

98roamer

Explorer
I've noticed that on occasion. It's like the tranny is thinking it needs 1st gear but figures out 2 is the right gear.

My mechanic back flushed the system and it has not had it's issues since, but I have been wondering about another potential issue, and this one is not new it actually has been going on for some time.

This maybe normal but I thought I would check and see with some of you who have AT equipped 4RNRs. When I am driving slow (10mph or under) and let off the throttle to coast, when I apply throttle again the engine will rev for a moment before any more power is actually sent to the wheels. Anyone else notice this with theirs.
Normal? Not Normal?
 

CYi5

Explorer
My mechanic back flushed the system and it has not had it's issues since, but I have been wondering about another potential issue, and this one is not new it actually has been going on for some time.

This maybe normal but I thought I would check and see with some of you who have AT equipped 4RNRs. When I am driving slow (10mph or under) and let off the throttle to coast, when I apply throttle again the engine will rev for a moment before any more power is actually sent to the wheels. Anyone else notice this with theirs.
Normal? Not Normal?
Haven't seen that on mine yet. The one time I thought my tranny was having issues it was actually bad spark plugs (lucked out there). I've been planning on throwing in a 5spd once the auto gives out, probably a pipe dream though given that the '99 auto uses ABS sensors to gauge speed versus the VSS for 5spds.

Only maintenance I've done to the auto is flush it myself with amsoil synthetic and clean the filter at 150k. At 186k now...knock on wood.
 
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