Mystery Problem Nobody Can Figure Out - 01 Celica GT-S
For starters, this is a problem that can't seem to be pinpointed by anyone, no matter how much I stress the issue at ANY garage / dealership. I just get bizarre looks, and people think maybe I'm crazy. I've always had bad luck with cars, but this one takes the cake. So far, I can't get it nailed as an engine problem, or transmission, but have been assured many times by many places, they are both in perfect working order, and never threw any CEL codes that pointed at such. I joined hoping for some answers, or some help to get pointed in the right direction.
I bought a 2001 Celica GT-S. Automatic 4-Speed. When I test drove it, and it was flawless. Had a ton of power compared to anything I have driven before. Always wanted one, and was really happy. Had minor cosmetic things, but easy to fix. Like some tears in the seats from wear, a few flecks of paint chipped, and one of the speakers were maybe slightly torn (that slight crackle you start to hear at higher volumes). But other then that, everything looked great. For a 12 year old car, pretty damn good. Fluids all looked good, and topped off. Engine wasn't too dirty. Drove, and responded excellent. I went for a second test drive, and ended up buying it since there was a list of people forming to look at it, and wanted it. I walked into a few people the 2 times I went to test drive. But... Cash talks. Car fax history was clean, and had been serviced on time for everything. Even had the transmission flushed at 30k, and 60k. APPEARED the previous owner tried to take care of the car.
2 weeks go by, enter problem 1...Tensioner squealing like pig while driving. All it took was for me to hit a puddle. I brought it back to the dealer, and he replaced the pulley, and belt at no charge. Problem left, and came back. But I said screw it. Left it. After winter left, spring came, and the noise left.
Next month... The main problems occur. This was a write up I left with each garage that I dropped the car off at...
Wednesday, 7:00 PM, 2/13/13
Car kicking between 2nd and 3rd gear violently while on freeway, as if not able to determine what gear to be in when trying to accelerate. Car stuck in 2nd gear eventually, while acting as if in neutral when trying to accelerate. When come to complete stop, car acts normal.
Friday, 2:30 PM, 2/15/13
Car shifts up to 4th gear, and remains in gear. Won't and can't shift down. Attempt to put in Manual Mode to shift myself, car refuses to shift as if stuck in that gear, no matter how soft or hard gas pedal is pressed. Car eventually kicks hard to 3rd while almost stalling but acts as if in neutral. Car violently kicks to to 2nd gear, then acts normal.
Monday, 8:00 PM, 2/18/13
While in parking lot with wife in vehicle, car violently shifts to 1st gear, and acts as if gas pedal sticking or idling high PULLING car forward. Hard to brake, or keep car stopped. Car accelerates on it's own, and also shifting gears all while not touching gas or brake pedal. All while trying to keep car stable, eventually get car to stop, and Park. Tach shows car revving between 0-3K RPM up and down on it's own as if revving the engine in neutral. Try to get car moving anyways, but stuck in 1st and 2nd gear. Get car to freeway, and it goes back to normal operation.
Apply brakes too strongly after car shifts, car will violently shift down, while pulling back on car as if switched into low gear. Mostly happens from 4th to 3rd.
Car almost always shifts hard into reverse with a bang. ONLY way around it is to rev engine in Park, before then shifting into reverse and releasing brake pedal at same time. Sometimes feels like it hesitates to stall while steering is stiff at same time when reversing (Only happened like 4 times) Seems to do this only when car is warmed up. At first start up, everything is smooth.
Accelerate too strongly, and car slips between 2nd and 3rd gear. Usually gets stuck in 3rd gear for some time. Car will also shift odd sometimes, as though it pulls back on car when shifting. Gears take awhile to shift, and act as if stuck.
All symptoms happen whether car is cold, or well warmed up and running for awhile.
There have been a few times, I would be in a parking lot driving slow, and the car would randomly spin the tires as if about to peel out, and catches, and proceeds normally. Has done this when driving too sometimes... I would be traveling at around 40 mph, and the car would jump gears, peel out in the middle of that speed while still traveling, haul ass, and then randomly to 4th gear and relax. For some reason, I drive normal, and slow, and the car has mental fits... I drive it like a crazy drug induced madman, and it stays on a happier tune. I even tried to reset the transmission into learning mode, and no luck... It is house broken to be a little bastard.
I know how to control the beast now, but still have problems at times if I run it for extended periods of time. Car definately seems to run better when cold, or first started up. Seems to go to shit when it starts getting into the 45-60 minute driving time frame. I gave up, and just started draining all fluids every month to keep the bastard happy. Getting irritated now. Most of the problems went away, but sometimes rear their ugly head on what seem to be when I am having a bad day. When parked for some time, problems are gone, as if they never happened... You know... Just in time for me to call a place, and make an appointment to get it checked... And the people think I am crazy. Or the car magically heals itself while driving. EVERY time. And every time I bring it back nothing shows up. The last visit, the guy tells me,"I understand that sometimes problems go away when customers drop their cars off, and they swear it had something wrong, but 5 times for you... Makes me start to wonder..." Made me seriously mad. I have brought this car to numerous transmission techs, and dealerships, and garages... Without taking stuff apart, and a very expensive bill to do so, nobody has ANY answer, and just shurg their shoulders. Sorry, can't afford it when I'm about to get laid off.
ONLY CEL codes that have been thrown now, are shift solenoid. But when presented to the dealership, they said it wouldn't cause the problems I have had to that degree without throwing codes. The engine apprently has a SMALL head gasket leak (dripping engine oil onto the passenger side, inner CV Axle boot), but is not considered a failing unit. They found this when I demended them check the transmission out, and I saw the boot wet with reddish fluid (turned out to be a little rust mixed with the oil) on the boot. Recently I got in a pretty decent accident. Had to replace the front driver's side control arm, strut assembly, ball joint, inner tie rod, outer tie rod, and new tire. Hit a curb going at around 65 mph... Stupid guy in New York cut me off on the expressway in his SUV. Expressed how sorry he was, and it was his fault, and when he saw my car barely limp to the parking lot 100 feet away where he told me to pull over to, decided he would take off. The car is fully repaired, but I noticed that the car throws the OCV code upon startup. Even when the computer is completely cleared, it hits it up right away. And the other problems STILL remain also. Aside from getting at me OCV occurence, I found out about Lift also. And the car hits that no problem with all the stuff happening. I can hit lift without manually shifting. And I can keep it in lift for the remaining gears if I so well please most of the time so long as I don't let off the gas. Not sure if this has anything to do with it as well.