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Old 08-07-2012, 11:16 AM   #1
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GM 4L80E Tranny Failed Twice

Purchased new 2003 Itasca, 33L, P32 Workhorse chassis with GM Powerglide 4L80E transmission. Transmission failed at 5600 miles in one year and replaced on warrenty. Now, 7 years and ONLY 11,000 miles later it has failed again. Total miles is 16,600. I am in contact with WH and they found an "after market" tranny and reduced the cost from $4500 retail to $2700. This has a 36 month 75000 mile warrenty. I am a conservative driver, tow under 4000# Jeep or boat and store from December to February. Not driven much because it sets on fishing site from Sep through November. I am told to start and run through gears every month -- do all Northern motor home folks do this? Ideas?

thanks, Redhawk

ps: need to change my location -- I am in SW Washington
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Old 08-07-2012, 11:56 AM   #2
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Unusual to hear of two tranni failures is such a short time. Don't know what to think other then just bad luck or a manufacturing defect...but probably would have heard more about it on the RV'ing forums if that was the case.

Have heard about repeated tranni failures is cars that probably was a problem with the alignment of the drive train/chassis assembly. Don't remember the details. Years ago.

As far as "start and run through gears every month", I don't care for that advice. I'd say to start and DRIVE it until the engine & tranni are up to temp, so 25 miles round trip. Maybe that's what they meant?
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Old 08-07-2012, 12:29 PM   #3
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Yes, WH preferred to drive it and get it hot, but in Pacific NW I have it covered from December through February. WH says that condensation can kill a transmission in short order -- why then is this not in the manual, why don't people with stored MHs start and run their MH, why don't more trannys fail? My biggest fear is when will the next failure occur
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Old 08-07-2012, 12:32 PM   #4
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There nuts. Make them show you the water in it then.
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Old 08-07-2012, 12:36 PM   #5
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Do you know what the nature of the failures were? Broken bands? Slipping? Broke a tooth? Fluid pump failure maybe? It would be intersting to find out and may give a clue as to whats happening. Right off the bat, I'm inclined to think like Jim and say some sort of miss-alignment if things are actually breaking..
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Old 08-07-2012, 01:23 PM   #6
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First one had major slipping at 5600 miles and it was replaced under warrenty. The second one has not been opened but have lost second gear. The second tranny was a remanufactured one and worked for 11,000 miles and suddenly started erratic shifting. Could have been some sort of electronic solenoid failure but it was installed 7 years previous, even though only 11,000.
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Old 08-07-2012, 04:52 PM   #7
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There nuts. Make them show you the water in it then.
Agree.
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Old 08-07-2012, 05:30 PM   #8
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Hmm.. could be just bad luck. I assume you had the correct fluid?
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Old 08-07-2012, 05:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhawk1 View Post
Yes, WH preferred to drive it and get it hot, but in Pacific NW I have it covered from December through February. WH says that condensation can kill a transmission in short order -- why then is this not in the manual, why don't people with stored MHs start and run their MH, why don't more trannys fail? My biggest fear is when will the next failure occur
That is true if it get a significant amount of water in it. Also the fluid would turn pink and look milky.The water wipes out the clutches and bands. As the others have said it is very unlikley that water killed it.
It would be nice if you could find out WHY the transmissions failed so that you could eliminate the cause.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:57 AM   #10
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Most 33ft. MH's are pretty close to the maximum weight rating of a P32 chassis and by towing your jeep you might want to check your GCWR. This is what the drive train it rated for. It is always a good idea to worm up the engine and trans before going anyware.
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:38 AM   #11
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This is why GM went to the Allison. Slipping in second is the most common failure of 4L80E. remember this is a "beefed up" 4L60E which is an electroninc version of the 700R4 which replaced the TH400. All are light duty 1/2 ton or passenger car transmissions. The only way to get one to last longer is going to be to add the largest aftermarket transmission cooler to the rig that you can making sure it is in the cleanest air flow you can find.
Starting and running through the gears to prevent condensation build up is false since the only way other than flood to induce water into the transmission is by cooling off after running. The vent tube eill then allow a VERY small amount of water in through condensation, way less than is in your tailpipe/muffler when you start your coach.
All in all with your size rig and towing you are probably beyond the ability of the 4L80E to stay together.
I have spent the last 30 years of my life as a GM service manager.
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Old 08-13-2012, 10:15 PM   #12
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You might want to blow air thru your tranny cooler lines. They sometimes get restricted and cause overheating. If you don't already have a good heavy duty trans cooler, look into installing a Hayward cooler, and use synthetic fluid, such as Amsoil. Overheating can seriously kill transmissions.
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