[xj40] good run, & transmission problems resolved

Hello to all on the ‘new’ list!

In spite of the rain, just had a really good run of 500km or so down I-5

to Seattle and back for the night. I’d have tried to hook up with some of
you in that area for a beer but the trip was sort of a spur of the moment
idea. Magnificat handled well, although the fuel efficiency was a touch low

  • averaged about 26 mpg, but with bias-ply tires and doing a steady 85mph
    that’s not too bad. One bit of good news was that neither side of the
    border crossing so much as blinked at my not having the required front
    plate (thanks again Richard M! The Harwood plate adds a nice touch, I’ve
    gotten quite a few comments on it.) The radar detector also saved me at
    least once - first time I’ve been sure of that, so it’s now officially paid
    for itself. If i didn’t have cells in culture insisting I be back for
    Monday morning, I’d have been tempted to just keep heading down the Oregon
    coast and go where the road took me - but that trip will have to wait until
    later this summer I think.
    There’s been a few threads re: transmission repairs recently so I thought
    I’d chime in with what knock on walnut panel seems to be a success story,
    finally. As some of you may recall, the original problem was a leak from
    the radiator to transmission via the transmission cooler, and the solution
    was a complete ‘soft parts’ rebuild and torque converter rebuild as paid
    for by the selling dealer as part of our settlement. The work was done by a
    local AAMCO - I’d had them do a transmission on my old AMC Eagle years ago
    and was happy with the work, and they claim to do a fair number of ZF units
    (mostly BMW and Volvo).
    To condense the story - after the rebuild ($2400 CAD), there were some
    niggling issues I found involving (mostly) the 3-4 shift and the lockup on
    the converter not always disengaging. Each time I’d go back, they’d pull
    the unit open, scratch their heads, and find something which they thought
    might be the cause - and every time it wasn’t, although the exact symptoms
    changed a bit each time. I should probably add that each time, the issues
    were relatively minor and/or intermittent, and didn’t really affect the
    driveability - but it wasn’t quite right. Over three months I had the car
    back in there a total of 8 times, and they re-did the entire rebuild on one
    of those times thinking maybe that would cure it. The final diagnosis was
    ‘something with the shift valve body’ which was not visible - some sort of
    wear but not clearly obvious, and just enough to cause some problems with
    the 3-4 shift under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the '87 has a
    shift valve body different from the following non-electronic versions of
    the ZF4HP22 as used in subsequent XJ40s, so tracking down a new valve body
    was not easy. The final cure was for the shop to buy a total of 5 other
    ZF4HP22 cores and ‘mix and match’ to get all the component casting numbers
    to match (the valve body isn’t a single piece, to complicate matters).
    In the end - having now put about 3 weeks and 1000 km of very paranoid
    testing on the last repairs - this seems to have worked. The transmission
    behaviour is perfect under every condition I can think to try, and while
    I’ll be holding my breath to see if it doesn’t crap out in 6 months, I
    suspect it won’t.
    I think the moral of the story is, if you have enough patience and you
    have a shop which is willing to keep dealing with it, you can get a decent
    rebuild done for less than the $4300 USD or so I think a lister was quoted
    last week. Yes, I’d have greatly preferred to have had it all fixed the
    first time around, but the shop was good in as much as they never once
    hesitated to deal with it when I’d come back and tell them “nope - do it
    again!”. Not only did they do it all under warranty without complaint, but
    they re-instated the warranty at ‘day 1’ each time, so in effect I had an
    unlimited period of time in which to get the job done to my satisfaction,
    followed by a year of coverage. The flipside of the story is that there are
    a lot of potential problems in a ZF rebuild, so unless you get a shop which
    really knows them OR one that will without complaint swallow the cost of
    redoing and redoing and redoing until you’re happy, it may not be a
    pleasant experience.