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Thread: Old-time Sluggish Automatic Transmission Remedy

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    Old-time Sluggish Automatic Transmission Remedy

    Hi

    Talking with my neighbor about how folks dealt with car problems years ago, he related that a relative had a six cylinder Chevy with a particularly sluggish Powerglide.

    Anyway, the remedy he used was to drain the old fluid completely, refill with half automatic transmission fluid, half brake fluid. Then he drove the car to get it to normal operating temperature then drained it again, refilling it with straight automatic transmission fluid. Apparently this gambit cured the problem and he drove the car for years afterward.

    Anybody else heard of this old-time sluggish automatic transmission remedy?

    Steve

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    No never heard of that kind of solution for a sluggish automatic trans. Powerglides trans aren't the speediest shifting trans to begin with. I should know because my 66 Chevelle came from the factory with a 230 cid in-line 6 cylinder and a Powerglide trans.

    John S.
    Last edited by Packard53; 09-18-2013 at 08:10 PM.

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    President Member clonelark's Avatar
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    my 66 Chevelle came from the factory with a 235 cid in-line 6 cylinder and a Powerglide trans.



    Maybe a 230ci or 250ci, 235s were gone in 1963

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    You are correct sometimes my fingers hit the wrong keys while typing and also failing to proof read. Thanks for pointing out my error

    John S.

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    Sure, brake fluid swells/softens old seals.
    Never heard the half & half then drain thing, but my really good old time parts man swears by an ounce of brake fluid in a slipping auto. He recommended that over selling you a bottle of "transmission magic!" in his version you just pour it in and leave it in the trans. That treatment kept my 727 Torqueflite running for years.

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    It's pretty easy to destroy the facings on bands and clutch disks in an automatic with the wrong fluid. Sort of turns into a pile of fuzz in the bottom of the pan. I'd stay away from unknown liquids, and use only the correct type of trans fluid. Some commercial additives are probably safe, given that they have been tested to not destroy your slush box, but who knows what brake fluid might do for the facings? Even some of those additives just keep on turning your seals into mush, so personally I avoid them all.

    JMHO
    Corley

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    Quote Originally Posted by skyway View Post
    Sure, brake fluid swells/softens old seals.
    Never heard the half & half then drain thing, but my really good old time parts man swears by an ounce of brake fluid in a slipping auto. He recommended that over selling you a bottle of "transmission magic!" in his version you just pour it in and leave it in the trans. That treatment kept my 727 Torqueflite running for years.
    Yes, I've heard of this to help swell old Rubber lip seals to slow external leaks....but as far as the internal steel rings, or plugged control valve, linings, etc......maybe, maybe not.

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    While brake fluid and automatic transmission fluid are both hydraulic fluids of sorts, they have greatly different properties. I can't imagine them playing nice for too long. This reminds me of another remedy I heard once about adding a little gasoline to your oil. I don't remember what that was supposed to do, but like this one, I'd never personally try it.
    '63 Lark Custom, 259 v8, auto, toddler seat

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    Silver Hawk Member jclary's Avatar
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    Funny thread. My experience has been that most of the sluggish transmission problems with my vehicles has been due to the tired worn out "thingamajig" under the hood that is supposed to power it!

    Another huge problem is often the clueless impatient goofball, behind the steering wheel, expecting the entire assembly to out perform its intended purpose.

    About 45 years ago, I recall going into the shop of an elderly mechanic. On the wall was a terriffic sign cautioning customers about the very unlikely chances of finding a "Mechanic in a Can." It was very well written, and I wish I had memorized it.

    I suspect that if some smooth tongued story teller came up with a suggestion to dump powdered Vitamins in your transmission...someone would fall for it. Already, we have enough trouble choosing a proper modern fluid for our aging automatics. If you go back and read the articles, on the subject, in Turning wheels from the early eighties to today...recommended fluid specs and anecdotal success stories contradict each other through the years.

    By the way...before any of you get your tender feelings hurt about my "goofball behind the wheel" comment...I see that guy most often...in the mirror!
    John Clary
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    SDC member since 1975

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    President Member 53k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyway View Post
    Sure, brake fluid swells/softens old seals.
    Never heard the half & half then drain thing, but my really good old time parts man swears by an ounce of brake fluid in a slipping auto. He recommended that over selling you a bottle of "transmission magic!" in his version you just pour it in and leave it in the trans. That treatment kept my 727 Torqueflite running for years.
    I have heard the same recommendation for power steering leaks.

    Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.
    '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Avanti R-1, '53 Commander Starliner, Museum R-4 engine, '72 Gravely Model 430 with Onan engine

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    I remember many, many years ago a short term quick fix for a transmission was to pour sawdust in it. Allegedly it would smooth out those old trannies long enough to sell it and leave the problems to the next owner.

    I also remember seeing those engine rebuild pills where you drop a couple of pellets into each spark plug hole and it suddenly rebuilds your engine from the inside as you drive!

    Between those two methods you could have a more powerful and smooth running car in no time!
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    The brake fluid in the trans trick works. I cant say for how long but I have used it as a temporary fix many times, particularly for cars I was selling at our local junk auction. I had also never heard of anyone mixing it 50/50, always just added a couple of capfuls and went on. Trans-X is another useful product that I have had good results with many times. Neither is a mechanic in a can but sometimes its just about buying time. Steve

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    Hi

    The softened and swelled seals were the conclusion at the time. Anedotal stories are what they are and, as they say, shouldn't be tried at home without more hard evidence.

    Definitely isn't something that should be tried on an automatic unless one plans on a rebuild anyway, or doesn't really care if it fails at some point.

    My comment to my neighbor was "A sluggish Powerglide? How could he tell!" Slip and slide with Powerglide!

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunslinger View Post
    I remember many, many years ago a short term quick fix for a transmission was to pour sawdust in it. Allegedly it would smooth out those old trannies long enough to sell it and leave the problems to the next owner.


    I thought that the sawdust "fix" was only for standard transmissions and differentials, not automatic transmissions.
    Gary L.
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    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    I couldn't tell you...just that's what I was told by someone somewhere way back in time. Probably by the first person who claimed Studebaker used Ford 289 engines.
    Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.

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    "I couldn't tell you...just that's what I was told by someone somewhere way back in time."

    Actually you heard that from Gomer after Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton) stuck Barney with a bad used car on an episode of the Andy Griffin Show. (And yes, it WAS a Ford!)

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    President Member Corley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyway View Post
    "I couldn't tell you...just that's what I was told by someone somewhere way back in time."

    Actually you heard that from Gomer after Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton) stuck Barney with a bad used car on an episode of the Andy Griffin Show. (And yes, it WAS a Ford!)
    With this level of expertise, this forum will never be surpassed by those stupid Ford and Chevy forums!

    (AND YES, I'm kidding!)
    Corley

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    Enjoy the post ,but won't add anything !

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    I bought a used transmission for my Oldsmobile from a U-pull it yard for $25.00 years ago and after a year it slipped so bad it was just about undriveable. A few pints of brake fluid let me drive it for another two years. Like mentioned if the problem is worn seals then this will help.

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    I have had good results with Trans-X, but I would hesitate to use brake fluid, because it is alcohol-based, and not miscible with oil.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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