I have a 2006 Saturn Vue V6 with 104,000 miles and an automatic transmission. The symptoms start when I’m accelerating or barely accelerating between 10 MPH and 40 MPH. If my foot is just barely pressing on the accelerator, it creates a grinding noise and the RPMs jump around a bit until it gets to the next gear. Also, every now and again I notice that there is a shaking feeling to my whole vehicle as it attempts to shift or right before the grinding noise starts. I can avoid that grinding by pulling my foot off the accelerator to let it coast, or it does not do it if I press the accelerator hard, but attempting to maintain 20-40 mph is when it makes the noise and or shakes. I had the fluid drained and replaced and at first I thought it fixed the problem but it came back several days later. I have not yet gone to get a quote because I would like to be knowledgeable about what it might be before I go in to a shop. Does this sound like a familiar problem? The shop that changed the fluid said they have had a lot of problems with the transmission control module needing to be updated. I went to a shop to get this done but they didn’t have the ability to update it but only to reset it. So they did reset it right around when I had the fluid changed.
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You can take your Saturn to any GM dealership and they should be able to update the transmission control module (TCM) software, as well as the engine control module (ECM). I would have both of those modules updated, just to be on the safe side.
It sounds reasonable to me that the software in the modules has to be updated, after all the transmission is more than 10 years old and there have been many changes to the transmission software code used by GM. It could be that the TCM is hunting for the proper settings.
That brings me to the other side of the issue, mechanical. I know you just had the transmission fluid changed, but I wonder if you had the filter changed as well. It is easy to miss that particular part of the transmission if you don’t deal with them often. That’s why I also suggested a GM shop or a shop that specializes in GM transmissions.
With that said, though, would also have the two areas checked that sometimes are overlooked in any tranny checkup, as well, the input and output shaft. It could be that worn bearings in one of the ball races is causing the shafts to be out of round — wobbling, ever so slightly and when it occurs it is causing problems in other parts of the transmission.
One other area to look at is the valve body. It is possible that one of more check valves could be slightly dirty which is inhibiting the proper flow of transmission fluid to the gearing as well.
Let me know what you find out after having the transmission checked by the GM dealer or shop specializing in GM transmissions. I’d be interested to find out what they say.