1 have a 1995 astro van with a 4L60E tranny - the tranny won't shift past 2nd gear - when it gets to 3rd it feels like neutral. the speedo is fine and the engine light has come on the past during certain times but not lately. I've read tons of blogs on solenoid issues - crossed wires - trouble codes or torque converter clutch problems - but no definte answers on what is the problem and what would the cost be approx to fix.
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Re: 4L60E won't shift to 3rd on 1995 Chevy Astro 2wd
Do the pin point tests, these start witjh running a trouble code test, autozone and kragen will do this for free, if u haven't had the trans apart then cross out any crossed wiring issues, but I do think you will find a problem with the 2-3 shift solenoid, either the solenoid has failed or the connector has a problem on the outside of the trans.
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Code 81 is brake switch input circuit.The being stuck in third is a limp mode because of a hard code being set.If you repair or replace the brake switch issue you should be fine on the shifting issue.Good luck and let me know if i can help.
Its more likely the tranny shift solenoids or the power wire going to the tranny. If the tranny loses its ignition feed (12Volts) it will default into limp home mode. This means neither shift solenoid has power and will be in the off position. When both shift solenoids are in the off position this is normally third gear. It will be very labored taking off from a stop being in third gear, but will allow you to still move (thus limp home). Astro vans were not known for it, however full size pickups with the same engine and tranny, would experience a bad ignition switch. It would disable the tranny circuit and no power would get to it, same symptoms. If it sometimes works it won't be a bad fuse, best to have it diagnosed at a reliable transmission shop to verify. Its not as expensive as a tranny overhaul.
You should have a 4l60E in your astro van. Which is electrically controlled, so no vacuum modulator. However, to address the ventilation selector not working... look for a vacuum line exiting the firewall and going to the passenger rear of the intake manifold. You will likely find it broken or disconnected there.
It's a 4L60E which is the same as the 4L65E. The 4L65E has different internal parts like the sun gear has 5 gears in it and the front pump has 13 vain as to the 4L60E has 4 sun gears and 10 vain front pump.
Note the 5 sun gear in the 4L65 E can handle more torque but the gear cage is thinner and the 13 vine pump is weaker and prone to failure more then the 10 vain.
The best improvement to the 4L60E is to swap out the servo's with a corvette servo's. The servo's will cost you under $50.00 and can be installed with out removing the transmission valve body or dropping the transmission pan and takes about 45 min to replace it. You will have a firmer shift feel and you can buy it at Auto Zone and get the step by step instructions for free to replacing the 4L60E servo.
Good luck and hope this helps, keep me posted. Be glad to help.