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Old 01-06-2010, 04:25 PM   #1
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2006 Chevy HHR Transmission Problem

I have a 2006 Chevy HHR as a toad and have just dinghy towed it for the first time today for a distance of about 40 miles. When I unhooked the HHR at the destination and put the automatic transmission in reverse, it did a hard thump when going into reverse. After backing up about 5 feet and putting the transmission into drive, the transmission did the same thing. I continued forward for about 400 feet with the transmission just "thumping" along. I stopped the car, let it sit for about 10 minutes, got back in it and it drove perfectly.

Everything I read in the owners manual as well as the different dinghy towing guides say the 2006 HHR can be towed 4 flat as long as you do not exceed 65 mph which I did not in this short trip. There was no burning/hot smell from the transmission as I was unhooking it.

Has anyone had a similar problem with an HHR or Cobalt as they share the same drive train? I'm glad I was only 40 miles from home should I have had to have the car towed in. I'm a little afraid to tow it again until I can determine what was causing this. Any help anyone can shed on the problem is greatly appreciated.

Mike & RJ
Murphy (the spoiled chocolate lab)
2010 Winnebago Journey 40L
2006 Chevy HHR
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:01 PM   #2
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Fuse?

Sis you remember to pull the fuse before taking off?
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Old 01-06-2010, 05:08 PM   #3
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absolutely - #8 removed before the wheels even rolled on the toad
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Old 01-06-2010, 08:29 PM   #4
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Dont think the number 8 fuse would have any effect here, it is only to keep from drainning the battery. I have pulled my HHR over 40k miles and used to never pull the fuse, now I have installed a switch to bypass the fuse when towing. Strange happening here, I suspect that you have other issues in the tranny causing this problem that just showed up after towing. Let us know if it acts up again without towing. UNLESS you mistakenly had the level down a little too far and was partially in drive, I can think of no reason why towing should have caused this problem. just my experience. Gene
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Old 01-07-2010, 12:22 AM   #5
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What did you mean "Thumping" along? It sounds like either the computer was in default or the pressure control solenoid was stuck. What are the odds the key was on during the trip?
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:56 AM   #6
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Thanks guys for the replies. I'm pretty sure the tranny was in Neutral (as sure as you can be when you are trying to think back on the situation).

The key position is an interesting question....I do distinctly remember pulling the fuse and asking myself "why are some of the displays on the dash still showing?"... so I guess there could be a chance it was in the on position instead of the ACC position.

can you help me understand if the ignition were in the ON position (car was not running) what this would mean to the transmission as opposed to just being in the ACC position?
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:08 PM   #7
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If the key was on that means the computer is awake and monitoring the engine and transmission. Long and short with no engine RPM, no trans activity, but it detected speed. Whenever the computer detects a situation it can't figure out it goes into default to protect the transmission. What happens is it commands maximum fluid pressure from the transmission pump. Until it gets a chance to reset when you put it in gear you'll think you got hit by a truck. When you turned it off and restarted it the computer reset and went back to normal since it didn't see anything wrong. Odds are it's just fine.
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:52 AM   #8
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Thanks for the reply, sknight. Since I was not 100% sure that I had the key in the ACC position, I decided I would do another short test run yesterday with the HHR as a dinghy. Before leaving the driveway, I checked and had co-pilot check that tranny was in neutral, key in ACC position and #8 fuse pulled.

We did a 20 mile round trip run not exceeding 60 mph with half being on interstate and half not. When we returned to house and prior to unhooking, placed tranny in Park and set emergency brake. After unhooking from MH, I started HHR while in Park and then shifted into reverse. I did not get the hard "thump" when putting the vehicle into reverse as I had previously. I backed the vehicle up about 50 feet and placed the tranny into Drive.

All started out fine, but when the tranny sensed the need to upshift it started shuttering. When I depressed brake to stop, the sensation was like on a manual shift vehicle when you are stopping and forget to depress the clutch. The engine would almost die, tranny would shutter, and then it would "fix" itself and return to a normal position. If I left the tranny in Low so it could not try and shift all was normal again.

I turned the car off and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Started it up again and poof - everything was normal and has been since.

It is apparent that the further the vehicle is towed, the more profound the shifting and shuttering problems are.

I am taking to dealer today to see if they have any ideas. Maybe it has thrown a code and the dealer will have some idea. Hopefully, the dealer will know what dinghy towing is - keep your fingers crossed.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randy1207 View Post
Thanks for the reply, sknight. Since I was not 100% sure that I had the key in the ACC position, I decided I would do another short test run yesterday with the HHR as a dinghy. Before leaving the driveway, I checked and had co-pilot check that tranny was in neutral, key in ACC position and #8 fuse pulled.

We did a 20 mile round trip run not exceeding 60 mph with half being on interstate and half not. When we returned to house and prior to unhooking, placed tranny in Park and set emergency brake. After unhooking from MH, I started HHR while in Park and then shifted into reverse. I did not get the hard "thump" when putting the vehicle into reverse as I had previously. I backed the vehicle up about 50 feet and placed the tranny into Drive.

All started out fine, but when the tranny sensed the need to upshift it started shuttering. When I depressed brake to stop, the sensation was like on a manual shift vehicle when you are stopping and forget to depress the clutch. The engine would almost die, tranny would shutter, and then it would "fix" itself and return to a normal position. If I left the tranny in Low so it could not try and shift all was normal again.

I turned the car off and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Started it up again and poof - everything was normal and has been since.

It is apparent that the further the vehicle is towed, the more profound the shifting and shuttering problems are.

I am taking to dealer today to see if they have any ideas. Maybe it has thrown a code and the dealer will have some idea. Hopefully, the dealer will know what dinghy towing is - keep your fingers crossed.
Randy

Sorry for your troubles.

Please let us know via an update when you get back from the dealer.

I just bought an HHR and set it up to tow. Other than a spin around the CG , my first tow will be thurs . on my way up yo the Tampa super show ( about 190 miles ).

Thanks

Cliff
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:00 AM   #10
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What you're describing there is a torque converter clutch that is locked up. The converter has a clutch in it that locks up at a cruise to give better economy but generally only works from third gear on up. Rereading what you initially wrote I think the same thing might be going on.

I'd take it to a dealership and offer to tow it up there with the MH so they can see it first hand.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:56 PM   #11
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I picked up the HHR from the Chevy dealer today and their answer to the problem I was having was "follow the proper procedures when dinghy towing". They said they had checked for service codes, operation of the tranny etc and everything was fine. They did say that contrary to what the owners manual says, that after the HHR has been towed, that you should replace the fuse, turn the key to start the car and then turn the ignition off. Then restart the car and place in either drive or reverse and all should be fine. The service advisor said that unless I do this, the shift sequence is out of whack and that by cycling the key thru this sequence, the transmission is "reset". Supposedly there is a TSB about this but I cannot find any reference to this TSB anywhere. This could make sense since the HHR operated just find after I had cycled the key thru the sequence twice, but I had driven the vehicle in between the cycles.

I'll try this again on a short test run as soon as weather warms up a bit and roads are clear again. I'm tired of this winter weather and want to head where it is warm and clear!!

Randy & Mike
Murphy (the spoiled chocolate lab)
2010 Winnebago Journey 40L
2006 Chevy HHR
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:47 AM   #12
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Thanks for the update Randy and Mike.

I will also look for that TSB and will send it to you if I find it.

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Old 01-17-2010, 05:38 AM   #13
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I finally had the opportunity yesterday to do another test run with the HHR as toad and wanted to let everyone know of the results.

On hookup, I placed transmission in Park, turned key to ACC position, then put tranny in Neutral and removed the #8 fuse and released parking brake.

I towed HHR about 20 miles with my SUV (since brand new coach is still in shop). Upon disconnecting, I placed transmission in park, started engine and let run for about 15 seconds. Turned engine off and let sit for about 5 seconds and the restarted the engine.

I just knew that I was going to have the same problems as previously reported, but I am happy to say that she ran and shifted like a charm. There was no hard thumps when placing the tranny in Drive or Reverse and it shifted perfectly up and down with various starts and stops.

So, for whatever reason, I must have the one HHR that requires this engine start/stop sequence being done immediately after towing and before driving in order to have the tranny know what to property do. I have not read or heard from anyone else that has an HHR that they have to do this to prevent the problems I was having, but it is sure a better fix for the problem that having to buy a new toad!

Hopefully I will have a coach back home shortly to actually use to tow the HHR.

Randy & Mike
Murphy (the spoiled chocolate lab)
2010 Winnebago 40L
2006 Chevy HHR
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:08 AM   #14
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With modern electronics in cars it's really not a surprise that there's a stand on your right foot waving your left hand ritual. I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone with an engineer saying "Run that by me again?"

Glad it's cool now and you're ready to do some towing.
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