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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been trying to find the cause of a high frequency vibration under acceleration for a few months. Feels like a bad bearing. Found a bad wheel bearing and replaced it. No change. Replaced both axles and the other wheel bearing. No change. So, before tearing back into things, I pulled a sample of transmission fluid (out of the dipstick tube) to hopefully rule out any transaxle problems.

Well, got the results today. It starts with "there's a lot of metal in this sample". There's 20k miles on the fluid. Did a flush (Gibbon's method, 16 qts total) of the original fluid at 147k miles.

So, the results:

Aluminum: 61, Avg-21

Copper: 192, Avg-85

Lead: 105, Avg-31

Average is for a Volvo automatic with 25k miles on the fluid.

So, not pretty and could be indicative of a bad bearing in the transaxle. It shifts fine.

So, how do I verify that something is wrong with the transaxle? I can pull the drain plug and see if there's any "glitter". Pulling the transmission is obvious a major and expensive effort. So, I want to be positive before I go down that path.
 

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Torque converter, maybe? Try to add some Lubegard HFM, 2-4 oz max, and see what happens next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Torque converter, maybe? Try to add some Lubegard HFM, 2-4 oz max, and see what happens next.
The aluminum, copper, and lead seems to be more like a bearing. But, not sure what a bad torque converter would look like.
 

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Im more sold on the wear metal being clutches. Bearings should be steel and chromium hardface.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Im more sold on the wear metal being clutches. Bearings should be steel and chromium hardface.
I guess I was thinking more like engine bearings, which have softer metals, than a roller bearing. Aluminum, copper, and lead are all very common in engine type bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here's the generic explanation from Blackstone Labs:

Aluminum:*Housing, bearings, oil pump, gear and vane pumps
Chromium:*Ball and roller bearings, alloy of steel parts like gears
Iron:*Gears, bearings, shafts, some cases, clutch plates
Copper:*Bronze bushings, oil cooler oxides, clutch plates, brass fittings
Lead:*Residual gear marking compound, alloy of bronze

I sent them additional info on history and symptoms. We'll see what they come back with.
 

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I can imagine how stressful that would be. You’ve certainly put a lot of love into it and it shows.
Maybe I’m crazy but why would you go to the doctor if there are no symptoms? That’s asking for a diagnosis, isn’t it? You said it shifts fine. Vibration can still be the tires or whatever. Have you run a totally different set of wheels and eliminated that too, after bearing and axle replacements?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I can imagine how stressful that would be. You’ve certainly put a lot of love into it and it shows.
Maybe I’m crazy but why would you go to the doctor if there are no symptoms? That’s asking for a diagnosis, isn’t it? You said it shifts fine. Vibration can still be the tires or whatever. Have you run a totally different set of wheels and eliminated that too, after bearing and axle replacements?
The vibration is there regardless of whether I have the summer tires/wheels or the winter tires/wheels. So, that variable can be eliminated.

The problem is that I had too many variables in play when it started. New tires, bad wheel bearing, disassembled axles to replace CV boots, and loose ball joints.

I did the oil analysis to hopefully exonerate the transmission as a possible source so I could just look at external moving parts.
 

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How bad is it? I guess it’s a matter of trying to determine if it’s worth losing sleep over or worth getting a manual swap if it eventually gives up the ghost.
The vibration is there regardless of whether I have the summer tires/wheels or the winter tires/wheels. So, that variable can be eliminated.

The problem is that I had too many variables in play when it started. New tires, bad wheel bearing, disassembled axles to replace CV boots, and loose ball joints.

I did the oil analysis to hopefully exonerate the transmission as a possible source so I could just look at external moving parts.



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How bad is it? I guess it’s a matter of trying to determine if it’s worth losing sleep over or worth getting a manual swap if it eventually gives up the ghost.




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Aw55 swap on a fwd is cheapish and can be done at home.

However M56/66 would be most delightful to drive. Just have to get 05+ stuff
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How bad is it? I guess it’s a matter of trying to determine if it’s worth losing sleep over or worth getting a manual swap if it eventually gives up the ghost.




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It's at the annoying stage now. The car is nowhere as smooth as it used to be when accelerating. I'm still going to take a look at the LF wheel bearing and axle, since this started to show up about the time those were messed with. Still hoping it's the cheap aftermarket axle I threw in while chasing a clunking noise.

I need a really good reason before condemning the transmission. So, I need to be positive about everything else that was done. Even if I find an another source, the transmission fluid analysis could be an indicator of a looming issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Aw55 swap on a fwd is cheapish and can be done at home.

However M56/66 would be most delightful to drive. Just have to get 05+ stuff
If it comes to that, since it involves dropping the subframe, it's more than I care to deal with anymore. I'd throw in new subframe mounts and a new rear main seal while it's apart. I can get a low mileage AW55 from Erie Vovo for about $1k. Throw in a new filter and seals. Don't know how many hours are involved to replace the transmission.

I think subconsciously I want an excuse for a manual swap since I recently hit the point where I've had an automatic longer than a manual (18 yrs vs 17 yrs). My youngest daughter would love it because she wants to learn how to drive a manual.
 

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I’d LOVE to take my VR to a manual. It’s just that I have no cash or time for that and the car is fine the way it is so far. Perhaps one day in the future.
I think subconsciously I want an excuse for a manual swap since I recently hit the point where I've had an automatic longer than a manual (18 yrs vs 17 yrs).
 

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The aluminum, copper, and lead seems to be more like a bearing. But, not sure what a bad torque converter would look like.
Aluminum is a differential housing which is typically abused and typically needs reshimming.

Copper and lead are friction plates. Friction plate dies first in torque converter.

Add HFM, if it smooths things out - that is friction plates for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Aluminum is a differential housing which is typically abused and typically needs reshimming.

Copper and lead are friction plates. Friction plate dies first in torque converter.

Add HFM, if it smooths things out - that is friction plates for sure.
I'll give the Lubegard a shot.

What's involved with shimming the diff housing?
 

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What's involved with shimming the diff housing?
Taking transmission out and splitting in in halves...

You can check the output hall sensor - it is typically has a fine shaved metal particles magnetized to it. And there's typically a lot of play in a differential.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Taking transmission out and splitting in in halves...

You can check the output hall sensor - it is typically has a fine shaved metal particles magnetized to it. And there's typically a lot of play in a differential.
If it has to come out and be opened up, something else will be going in!
 

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To add to vtl's post, I'm pretty sure the transmission drain plug has a magnet aswell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
To add to vtl's post, I'm pretty sure the transmission drain plug has a magnet aswell.
Yes, it does. It was pretty clean 20k miles ago.
 
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