Suburban Transmission Problems

Asked by Oct 30, 2010 at 08:31 PM about the 2004 Chevrolet Suburban LS 2500

Question type: Maintenance & Repair


Need some advice from the people much smarter than me when it comes to vehicles.

We have a 2004 Suburban with 122K miles on it. This has been a fantastic vehicle, one I'm hoping to hold onto for much longer.

This evening my wife was heading to the grocery store when just a few blocks from my house the suburban shifted into something like neutral. She moved it into multiple drive slots with no luck. She finally shut the engine down and started it back up and with no luck, but when she put it in reverse, it kicked into gear and she was able to put it in drive and get it home.

I then took a spin and the same thing happened to me. This time I shut the engine off and it would not go into gear immediately. After sitting for a couple of minutes I then got it to engage and get it home.

Transmission fluid is fine (just had the oil, etc. changed yesterday).

Have I lost my transmission or is it something else?

any help is appreciated!

25 Answers


This is the problem with electronic transmission & transfercases. The 2004 trucks had troubles with the transfer cases shifting into nuetral. I would have this shecked. I also believe that there is a recall on the transfercase.

16 people found this helpful.

Sounds strange. In regards to what Mr. Hyzy said, i would check the t-case to be sure it is not leaking fluid or has a loose wiring harness (if you have a 4x4). You could also check to see it the t-case is acting up by shifting it in and out of 4x4 next time it acts up. If by messsing with the 4x4, it goes back to normal, you might have a t-case actuator problem. (by the way, you should have the t-case fluid changed with the tranny fluid on these). You said that you had the fluid on the tranny flushed the other day, if it started acting up after that, i would go back to that shop and tell them what is going on. If not, just check the level, add if needed or if it's ok take it to a transmision shop because there may be something wrong.

9 people found this helpful.

HMMM, it happened the day you had the transmission oil changed. Did they use the wrong fluid, this could damage the clutches then the servos and valve body, things get sticky and does not get you into gear. check the bill see what fluid they used if they list it. Then again the clean fluid may dislodge dirt in the transmission and it stick in the valves.

4 people found this helpful.

If you have never changed the trans fluid and then change it at 122k its a comon problem for the trans to go out. The new fluid cleans off all of the dirt and build up from not changing the fluid. Transmission fluid has a high detergent additive in it , with the old fluid it was not cleening the transmission parts inside and probably the trans would have gone out from poor maintence anyway. he new fluid has cleaned and released all of the built up gum and sludge inside the trans and then the valves and orafices get plugged up and start sticking hence transmission inop. Its not the place that changed the oil its the person that did not change the trans oil in 122k. I am Ford Motor Company Certified and ASE certified with 30years of service in the auto repair business.

22 people found this helpful.

Steve - I have the same problem and did just change the fluid out, what do I do now, do I need a transmission service or new tranny? what to do?

12 people found this helpful.

There is a long history of problems with the transmissions in these vehicles. I've seen them fail at a lot lower mileage, too. It sounds like you may well be due for a rebuild. If the electronics have gone south, they have likely done damage to the clutches, too, so don't be surprised if it is a case of computer and transmission/transfer case replacement. The good news is that the rebuild, done properly, and with the appropriate upgrades, seems to last almost forever.

6 people found this helpful.

I have no answer> I do however have the same problem, exact same problem. Mine has did same thing 3 times and that is why I am on this website.At least I know am not alone. Now I am going looking for the recall and hope there is one.

1 people found this helpful.

It sounds like the Encoder sensor, the encoder tells the truck what positoin the transfer case is in & the truck will adjust to it. Its a small flat circular piece on side of transfer case & it wears out over time. Costs around $100 & will take 1/2 an hour to hour to change yourself. I replaced 2 on my GM trucks so far. Good luck

13 people found this helpful.

My suburban encountered the same problem causing it to destroy the entire drive train pretty much over 6000$ in repairs

3 people found this helpful.

Same thing here folks. I bought a 2001 1500 4x4 z71 Burb.( Pan hasa drain plug).I hear that is afterthought/market? my vehicle started making a whining sound . by chance putting it in 4 wheel drive hi range and back to 2 hi made the sound go away. I thought maybe something was just slightly hung up in the transfer case. Took by a transmission shop twice to let them listen. of course we all know our vehicles better than anyone, and the unusual sounds they can make. Ive heard these 46o (?) transmissions commonly fail around 130k. Shop had 3 on shelf because they see a lot of them. Usually noise and weirdness doesn't get better magically; ) Anyway, mine slipped out of D at 65 mph on an incline. Pulled over....fluid clean/ clear and pink but smelled like toast. Limped into next town in 3-d @3500rpm. Cool tranny guy coded tranny and got "performance " code. Drove it, and 1, 2nd ok, but clutch- pack between 3-4 (D) cooked. Yep.......rebuild time. Parts cheaper than a Dodge, and looking @ $2500. O' Reily has them (dyno tested) for $1300+. Install prolly $1000+ if I can find a shop willing to install owner aupplied trans. 200 mile tow home and can drive around town in 2nd. No more as too much heat will f@#$ everything no broken. Sorry for the length of post, but I ask a lot of questions trying to reduce wallet-flush! Peace

5 people found this helpful.

I really need some help here, I bought my truck in Jan. and it has been a perfect vehicle sense. about two weeks ago now everything went down hill. My husband is pretty certain the transmission is done for but i still have hope. I drove it and it wouldnt shift out of 1st gear, the oil pressure went over the 80 line an she growned the whole time til i got back home (real quick trip) my husband has drove it twice and both times it wouldnt go into 3rd gear. I need to know all of the possiblities of what could be wrong with it so i can try and fix it. i am a mother of 4 and this is my only family vehicle and we r on an extremely tight budget, please help!

50 people found this helpful.

Hi.. I'm looking to buy a 2001 Chevy Suburban with 167K miles for $5000 ...I know the family they are really good people.. they have never had trouble with the tranny but my partner thinks that it will go out... because he knows cars..however I was going to take it in to a tranny guy we know and get it looked at... well at least he can drive it... $5000 is not bad but if the tranny goes out and then I was told it would then need a new engine... Does anyone have better luck with Transmissions on these vehicles...the car is very nice shape inside and out and was going to trade work for their car... (i'm a daycare provider...) ...I know this may sound like a dumb question but I just don't want to miss a nice opportunity if the vehicle transmission stays in good shape...Thank you ..p.s. our friend who has a transmission shop did say Transmissions going out is a big thing in these models...

10 people found this helpful.

i have a 2001 Chev Sub 1500 200K plus NOW same transmision and have never done anything to my vehicle except oil change every 3- 5k miles, battery and tires. Excellent vehicle for me still runs, drives and pulls well. Coldest A/C in town too.... Love mine just hope this post doesn't jinx it for me... Did I mention I am the only owner purchased and purchasef New @ $40K. Love it !!!!!

5 people found this helpful.

I have a question I have a 1999 Yukon suburban my truck won't go forward but It reverses fine could it be the sensors or would it be my transmission my 2 wheel and 4 wheel drive buttons don't work could that be the problem?

29 people found this helpful.

i have chevy suburban 2012 and the problem is when i switch from auto to two wheel drive it keeps going to high wheel drive and will not switch back to two wheel drive. I did change the transfer case motor the front and the back. In the front next to the two transfer cases. What should I do?

15 people found this helpful.

Steve, I just encountered the same thing. Happened to my wife and it was hard to believe. Took it to my local mechanic who tried to reproduce the problem to no avail. He put it into 4 wheel drive hi & lo and back into 2 wheel drive and drove it. He also supposively hooked it up to a diagnostic machine and it didn't spit out any codes. I picked it up, drove it to a gas station got gas and then stopped in on a work project. When I went to leave it finally happened to me. I put truck in drive and it was like I was in Neutral. I know because I was coasting backwards and my rpm's were going up with no luck. After revving the engine and changing gears a bunch I finally turned off and back on and was able to get in gear long enough to park. Is this a transmission gone bad or something else minor? Any help is much appreciated. Local transmission guy has bad reviews & charges sky high. I have a 4 WD Z71 suburban 2004 1500 with 164,000 miles. I purchased it a year ago with 150,000 miles on it. Don't use it to pull anything & haven't used 4 WD since purchased. It's basically wife's mommy vehicle & gets babied.

25 people found this helpful.

I have read that the newer than 02 has the 4L65E trans.That is supposed to be better than the 60E trans. Like most cars changing the fluid enough seems like a good idea.I would consider a large filter kit,That uses a fine micron filter that is the size of a oil filter.Stock trans filters are only so good. Consider any connectors getting bad or dirty. I once applied for a job at a transmission shop and they were keen on getting the customer to sign papers so they could do as much major things as possible. While i think that not every shop is this bad,I would bet that many so called bad trannys are just something minor. (electronics)There are many small passages that can get blocked.Even a small inline filter like a Magnafine? would be a good idea. If you do have a transmission go bad,You well want to bypass the old factory transmission cooler and install an aftermarket one.Otherwise bad stuff well get pulled back into your transmission. I came here trying to figure out any year to avoid,I think the Suburban is great.A bit thirsty though.

2 people found this helpful.

I have a 1994 Yukon Chevrolet and it drives backward not forward, what seems to be the problem?

5 people found this helpful.

i have a 2000 chevy tahoe 4x4 and i took it to the transmission shop and he put his scanner on it and drove it and he checked all fuses and came back good ,but he said that there is no power going to the transmission and it will only take off in 2nd gear but will shift into 3 ,but what would cause it to not get power to the transmission ,so i can fix it

6 people found this helpful.

I have a 2001 2500 series 3/4 ton suburban that stops shifting after a half-hour or so in stop and go city/neighborhood driving. If i pull over, turn it off, wait a minute and re-start it, the vehicle runs fine again - for a while. I've replaced the solenoids and fluids but have not remedied the problem. Any suggestions???

5 people found this helpful.

I have a 1997 GMC Suburban K2500 that is also having a similar issue. After the vehicle is warmed up (30 min of driving), the vehicle will slip into neutral between 3rd and 4th gear. I have to let off the gas and let the engine settle and wait for it to find 3rd gear. I can manually shift 1-3 with no problems. I have changed the fluid and the filter and the problem has not went away. The only code that is being read is P1345 (Camshaft to Crankshaft Position Correlation Fault). I am not sure what to do next?

1 people found this helpful.

Look up the code.It sounds like a crankshaft position sensor.could be a simple fix.If you can do it yourself.

Check the transmission valve .. if the valve is not opening up or hangs up do not debri .. this happen ..


Question. I have a 04 suburban, that started having trans issues. We replaced the transmission with a rebuilt transmission. However we are still having issues shifting. Into 3rd and 4th gear. I heard that the car needed to be flashed so the computer recognizes the new transmission. Is this true?

2 people found this helpful.

have an 03 tahoe with 137 on it got a ck engine light code cellonoyed torque started to slip when cheing gears stall engine changed oil about 3 to 4000mi ago iam being told forget about preventive maintance makeing cars like shit noe, got a 89 gmc with over 30000 mi on it runs great go figure

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