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Old 08-01-2005, 06:04 PM   #1
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1983 31' International
Jasper , Georgia
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Transmission Trouble

We are new owners of a 1993 Airstream LandYacht and apparently we are still working the kinks out of it. We just returned from our third trip with the MH and it was a TRIP! On the second day, as we are driving down the road on a foggy morning, all of a sudden the engine revs up, the speedometer drops to zero, and the check engine light came on. I thought the engine had died. I coasted down and then found I could drive, but I only had first and second gear; the transmission would not shift to third. We were going through the backroads of Alabama. We stop at a service station where the nice mechanic looked it over, but couldn't find anything obvious wrong. His opinion was the transmission was shot. We went on (max speed approx. 35 mph) calling different repair shops, with no luck. Since the Airstream is on a Chevrolet P30 chassis, we stopped at the nearest Chevrolet dealership. This was on Thursday. They were too busy to look at it but said we probably needed to have it connected to a computer to read the check engine codes. They did call other Chev. dealerships in the area to learn that they couldn't help us, either. We eventually made it to Destin, FL after a long stressful drive. The next day (Friday) we called all sorts of RV places but no one worked on RV's (??????). Most places said they couldn't get our RV into a bay. We talked to the Chev. dealership in Panama City (40 miles away) and they said they MIGHT be able to look at it. We then stopped at a RV dealership where they tried to sell us a new RV but couldn't work on ours. They were of an opinion that the transmission needed replacing. They did give us the name of a transmission shop: Bill's Transmission. We called and they agreed to look at it. We drove the MH to Bill's, where they hooked it up to a computer, diagnosed the problem as defective speed sensors, and replaced them in an hour. Test drove it and eveything was fine. All that for less than $300. They were the only place in a hundred mile radius that was willing to help us, even to the point of hooking the MH up to the computer (they did not put the MH into a bay for that). I could have replaced the sensors if I could have diagnosed the problem. Anyway, how do you get a MH worked on if you are out away from home and no one wants to help you out? Does no one work on a P30 chassis? I would be interested in hearing anyone else's stories.
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Old 08-01-2005, 07:02 PM   #2
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Its just a BIG pickup truck. Drive train wise just treat the thing like any 454 powered 1 ton truck of the same vintage. Your set up is not much different then my 454 powered Suburban.

You could have done that same diagnosis with a paper clip.......serious.

The Computers on the pre OBDII fuel injection is pretty simple. You can take a paper clip and jump the top right pin to the next pin over and drop the ECM into diagnostic. Count the flashes of the check engine light to get the code. It would have thrown a code for VSS (Vehicle Speed Sensor). A repair manual for the chassis would have all the code information and how to do diagnostics as well. People really put to much into auto repair. A Meter, test light and a couple hand tools and you can pretty well do any diagnostics the dealer can.

If you want to get real high tech you have can turn a laptop into a scan tool with a serial port connection into that same jack.

You can buy the cord from here.
http://www.customefis.com/
http://www.customefis.com/cableorder.html


Link to WINALDL Share ware for the software is on that site as well but here is their link.

http://winaldl.joby.se/

Its really sad that everybody blew you off. With a Scan tool it only takes about 5 minutes of time to do. Autozone will read codes for you as well.
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Old 08-01-2005, 08:31 PM   #3
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1972 25' Tradewind
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auto diagnostics

As an A.S.E. certified Technician, I must reply to your statement of people putting too much into auto repair. You would not beleive some of the nightmares we see. Yes, a VSS code may be only a sensor but it can also be the controller, or the harness. Yes, Autozone will scan the code but can only guess as to the real cause. Replacing the part associated with the DTC is a 50/50 proposition at best. Having said that, try diagnosing a problem with out a DTC and watch the fun ensue! P.S. careful with that test light, as you can cook the controllers and they ain't cheap.
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Old 08-01-2005, 08:50 PM   #4
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I will not go into the whole story since you can read it through the threads here and on our web page but we were stranded on a Chicago expressway with out an engine. We now have the Good Sam Club Road service expressly made for us RVers with overgrown trucks. I hope never to use it but I will never be without it.

By the way welcome to the wonderful world of Airstreams. I was happy to hear that your problem was not to serious and that you are on the road again.
Here is the link to the Good Sam Club.
http://www.goodsamclub.com/member/signin/index.cfm
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Old 08-01-2005, 09:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 72 tradewind
As an A.S.E. certified Technician, I must reply to your statement of people putting too much into auto repair. You would not believe some of the nightmares we see. Yes, a VSS code may be only a sensor but it can also be the controller, or the harness. Yes, Autozone will scan the code but can only guess as to the real cause. Replacing the part associated with the DTC is a 50/50 proposition at best. Having said that, try diagnosing a problem with out a DTC and watch the fun ensue! P.S. careful with that test light, as you can cook the controllers and they ain't cheap.
And note I said with a "repair manual". Repair manuals tell you the proper procedure for testing. ECM would tell you what sensor it sees as a problem then you test that sensor with the procedure recommended for the component. Haynes or Chilton is OK but factory is what ASE mechanics at the dealer use.

I guess I should be cautious on what I recommend but I give everybody the benefit of the doubt that they have some mechanical skill and intelligent enough to follow written instruction.

While I'm not a ASE mechanic I do ALL my own repair work including rebuilding my own transmissions. I HATE seeing people ripped off and I like to arm them with as much info on how they can help themselves and protect themselves from people that would take advantage of their lack of knowledge.

This guy lucked out and found a reputable shop that did him a fair deal. He could have easily been taken for thousands of dollars for unneeded work and would have never known.

Modern cars with computer control can and will tell you what ails them with a pretty high accuracy. Its just a matter of knowing how to ask it whats wrong. Then doing the follow up of testing the parts it says are malfunctioning.

Most new cars with FI and auto also have transmissions controlled by computer as well and while this was listed as a transmission problem it was not. This vehicle is probably equipped with a 4L80e or variant that replaced the TH400 and 475. Its shifts are determined by the computer using a hose of information from the engine management controls. It was a bad sensor that the ECM uses to determine shift points, fuel mixture for the acceleration its under and a host of other things more engine related then transmission. In this day and age its hard to tell if you don't educate yourself.

If you are interested in computers and know your way around computer hardware and have a rudimentary understanding of computer programing then working on a modern car should not be that difficult for you especially if you ever tinkered with cars in the past. Don't let the electronics scare you. If you get stuck there are TONS of good reference sources and Forums on the Internet where you can get help. John at Custom EFI in Columbus, GA has a wonderful amount of information available on that site I posted.

I have a whole list of EFI information posted over here at a web site I moderate. Anything you could ever want to know about GM Electronic controls can befound in these links including adding FI to your carbbed vehcile with either kit or Junkyard salvaged parts.

http://coloradok5.com/forums/showthread.php?t=58474

Hell here they are for here.

EFI TBI TPI Fuel Injection:
www.jagsthatrun.com (FI conversion stuff. excelent info on VSS's for conversions here that will let you retain stock cable drive speedometer.)

www.tpis.com
www.fuelinjection.com
www.tunedport.com
www.thirdgen.org
http://216.121.161.76/files/GMError.pdf (GM Computer error codes)
www.autoxray.com (scanner for FI vehicles)
http://www.thirdgen.org/newdesign/t...timatetbi.shtml - TBI Air Cleaner Mod
http://www.thirdgen.org/newdesign/t...imatetbi2.shtml ? TBI
http://www.geocities.com/ecmguy.geo/
http://216.121.161.76/files/GMError.pdf
http://www.customefis.com/index.html
http://www.howell-efi.com/ (harness kits too)
http://www.autoxray.com/scanners.htm
http://www.fastchip.com/ (don?t know anything about these guys)
http://www.goingfaster.com/spo/tbi.html
http://www.thirdgen.org/
http://www.tpis.com/
http://www.tunercat.com/
http://www.fuelinjection.com/
http://www.winaldl.webhop.net/ (highly recommended for laptops)
http://www.thirdgen.org/.
http://www.chevythunder.com/ TPI Conversion For 85-92 TPI
http://www.diy-efi.org/ - EFI-332, DIY-EFI, and GMECM Tech

Documentation Technical:
www.slosh.com/cars/brochures/
http://community.webshots.com/user/ausername11 (MJs got some great stuff!)
http://www.mortec.com/castnum.htm Casting Numbers
http://www.auto-ware.com/techref/guage.htm - Inch Equivalent of Wire and Sheet Metal Gauges
http://home.gci.net/~trey/cable.html ? Cable Info
http://www.rctek.com/handling/acker..._principle.html Steering Principles
http://performanceunlimited.com/cus...regrooming.html Tire Grooming
http://westtexasoffroad.homestead.c...ersteering.html ? Power Steering Upgrades
http://www.diy-efi.org/ - EFI-332, DIY-EFI, and GMECM Tech
www.car-stuff.com A lot of directions lists.
http://www.dansmc.com/Spark_Plugs/S...gs_catalog.html Reading Spark Plugs
http://www.alaskaoffroad.com/tech.htm
http://www.s10blazers.com/rpo_codes.htm RPO Codes
http://ck6066.web1000.com/ - 1960-66 Chevy trucks
http://www.chuckschevytruckpages.com/
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Old 08-01-2005, 09:40 PM   #6
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Ohhh while I really think it was a fair price of under $300 for a mechainc to do the diagostic and then get and install the part....You could have fixed that MH for $57 and tax if you had a paper clip and repair manual.

Autozone DOES list the P30 chassis under Chevrolet truck.

Quote:
VEHICLE SPEED SENSOR


WELLS VEHICLE SPEED SENSOR for a 1993 CHEVROLET TRUCK P30 VAN

Unit Price: $56.99
Core Value*: $0.00
Part No.: SU1138
Weight: 0.00 lbs.
Warranty: 3 MO
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Old 08-01-2005, 09:44 PM   #7
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Toaster..

What a great list of links!

I have thought of getting a OBD scanner. I clicked on the link for the EZ Scan 6000 and it sells for $700.

What would be a good value scanner that is a compromise of cost and lots of extras?

Any good reference manuel you would suggest? Or just go to Google...

Thanks
Steve
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Old 08-01-2005, 09:51 PM   #8
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eric

all i can say is wow, looks like you have been doing your homework!

got any ideas on a pc to my 00 silverado system? all i want to do is trouble shoot not reprogram.

john
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Old 08-02-2005, 06:15 AM   #9
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John and Steve:

Both those vehicles are OBDII. I would look on the Third gen site http://www.thirdgen.org/ Thats the Hot rodd guys that are modifying and they usually are the first to start showing up with hacks on newer GM engines. With it being OBDII its somewhat universal for diagnosis you should start seeing a lot of stuff like WINDDL for laps tops showing up soon if not already.

Autozone sells a OBDI and II scanner for $149. What you probably don't get is the ability to do adjustments like you would with something like the Auto X-Ray. Just purely a reader. On the newer systems you can do a LOT of adjustment. You could change shift points to aid with towing, Adjust for tire size, etc. Use to have to burn chips to change that stuff but not anymore.


A quick google search came up with this site.
http://www.akmcables.com/obdii.htm

I searched google with key words OBDII, Laptop. So its already available. That sie has some interesting products but if you can handle a diagram and solder I bet you could build a interface cable for under $30. They are getting $90 for one prebuilt.
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Old 08-02-2005, 06:43 AM   #10
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P30 Van

I usually tell a parts house that I have a P-30 van and they go right to the correct listing.

I find that I get the "deer in headlight" look when I ask for anything else like, RV, Camper, Chevrolet chassis etc....
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Old 08-02-2005, 07:05 AM   #11
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I'm with Toaster on this....a good scan tool is priceless. I have one for my OBD2 cars, but have yet to get one for the OBD1 conversion I have.

The one I use for my OBD2 cars (BTW OBD2 came into play very, very late 1995 for the 1996 model year) is from from Pease Diag...you can find them here:

http://obd2.com/palm/data/palm.htm

It's been an tool I can't live without. It will test *almost* any OBD2 made from any manufac. I orig bought it for the 1996 Impala SS, but now also have a 2004 Suburban...it works on both flawlessly without any patches, upgrades, etc. It's pulled my behind out of the fire several times. I've help dozens of other folks too with it. That check engine light comes on and it could be any number of things. This particular unit, while it doesn't program, it can be set up to monitor up to three functions real time and gives you not only the check engine trouble code, but also a short description of what the code is, so you don't need to haul a book with you.

All in all I find this tool a 10 out of 10 John. Next time I see you, ask me to show it to you, I bring it on all trips.
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Old 08-02-2005, 06:09 PM   #12
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cool twink i would like to see it!

john
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Old 08-02-2005, 06:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sav'h Steve
I have thought of getting a OBD scanner. I clicked on the link for the EZ Scan 6000 and it sells for $700.

What would be a good value scanner that is a compromise of cost and lots of extras?
An OBDII code scanner can be had for about $150 or so, at your local Autozone.
I have one of those, plus an OTC Monitor 4000 Enhanced for the more complicated diagnoses that are needed today. The 4000 cost around $1900 when I bought it several years ago, when OBDII was new stuff. Now the current scanners are the OTC Genesys, about $3500, and the old Snap-On scanner goes for about $2500. Updates are available, about $400-$700 per update, depending what is being updated.
And you wondered why getting your car fixed costs so much now days !
We have to pay for these expen$ive tools somehow...
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