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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2004 Armada, owned since about 2 years old. While I have basically had no transmission problems, I have an occasional issue that happens at early morning startup in extremely cold winter days. I live in central Canada where overnight temperatures can get down to -40 deg F (-40 deg C) or colder. Often, if the vehicle has been sitting outside overnight, I can expect to have a transmission issue within the first minute of driving. Basically, I back out of the driveway, put the transmission in drive, and pull away. After the vehicle drives for about 500 feet, all of a sudden I lose the transmission and it slips (like it's in neutral, which it isn't). I come to a rolling stop and either have to wait for upwards of 5 minutes before it wants to engage again, and then everything is fine. This problem has ALWAYS been within the first minute of driving after sitting overnight, on extremely cold mornings. It has never happened outside of these conditions. The other interesting thing is that reverse seems to always work, and often using reverse helps get the vehicle moving again. I have learned that if this situation happens (forward disengages after about 500 feet of forward driving) that I can often put the vehicle in reverse and drive backwards for about 200 feet, then try forward again and usually I'm off (which decreases the time required to get going again).

Mostly, this is a non-issue. Yes, it happens upwards of about 10 times each winter. I'm thinking that it's likely just the transmission fluid that has thickened under cold weather conditions and it takes just getting the fluid moving again and warmed up, and then I'm good to go. But I thought I'd just throw this out to see if anyone else has experienced the same thing, or if anybody knows what's going on, or can provide an easy fix. Obviously, I'm concerned that the condition could deteriorate but maybe there is something that I'm missing here from someone whom is an experienced transmission mechanic that knows exactly what's going on.

Thanks guys.
 

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any maintenance records on the car? do you do the maintenance on it?
since its used has it had any tranny service done?

sounds like the incorrect tranny fluid was used and/or its low.
 

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Start with checking the transmission fluid level. Is the transmission filled to the proper level with the proper fluid?
 

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I have a 2004 Armada, owned since about 2 years old. While I have basically had no transmission problems, I have an occasional issue that happens at early morning startup in extremely cold winter days. I live in central Canada where overnight temperatures can get down to -40 deg F (-40 deg C) or colder. Often, if the vehicle has been sitting outside overnight, I can expect to have a transmission issue within the first minute of driving. Basically, I back out of the driveway, put the transmission in drive, and pull away. After the vehicle drives for about 500 feet, all of a sudden I lose the transmission and it slips (like it's in neutral, which it isn't). I come to a rolling stop and either have to wait for upwards of 5 minutes before it wants to engage again, and then everything is fine. This problem has ALWAYS been within the first minute of driving after sitting overnight, on extremely cold mornings. It has never happened outside of these conditions. The other interesting thing is that reverse seems to always work, and often using reverse helps get the vehicle moving again. I have learned that if this situation happens (forward disengages after about 500 feet of forward driving) that I can often put the vehicle in reverse and drive backwards for about 200 feet, then try forward again and usually I'm off (which decreases the time required to get going again).

Mostly, this is a non-issue. Yes, it happens upwards of about 10 times each winter. I'm thinking that it's likely just the transmission fluid that has thickened under cold weather conditions and it takes just getting the fluid moving again and warmed up, and then I'm good to go. But I thought I'd just throw this out to see if anyone else has experienced the same thing, or if anybody knows what's going on, or can provide an easy fix. Obviously, I'm concerned that the condition could deteriorate but maybe there is something that I'm missing here from someone whom is an experienced transmission mechanic that knows exactly what's going on.

Thanks guys.
Sounds like a fluid problem. Check the level and add if needed. Also try a spill and fill with the correct high quality fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks so much for your input, guys.

So I have about 138,000 miles on the vehicle. I've owned the vehicle since almost new (2 years old but it's a 2004). I have done any and all work myself, so I know the vehicle well.

You are ALL correct. I checked the tranny fluid and it's definitely low. It's was hitting the bottom of the dip stick, which appears to be about 2 quarts lower in transmission fluid than it should be. I removed the transmission drain plug and removed the pan oil, removed the pan and cleaned it out (including fine shavings on the pan bottom magnets), then reinstalled everything. This process collected about 4 quarts of transmission oil, and so I replaced it with 5 quarts of new fluid (for now). I'm gonna let the new fluids mix with the old fluids (held within the transmission itself) and then do another Matic-J transmission change, then top everything off to the dipstick levels. The transmission itself holds about 11 quarts of fluid (half of it you can access with an oil change, the other half remains within the transmission and you can't access) and I figure with a few changes over the next month I should be able to change out about 8 of 11 quarts of fluid with new transmission oil, which prevents an unnecessary flush. The oil that was removed was definitely darkened (dark red with a bit of red around the perimeter). I'm pretty sure the transmission is fine, and new transmission fluid should definitely help. I will see what happens over the coming winter and see if this oil change and top up helps solve the problem I reported in my initial post.

You guys are awesome. Thanks for your input.
 
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