It seems we all tend to allow ourselves to fondly remember yesterday’s challenges and the “assumption” that lessons were learned, and we could put problems of the past behind us. Being in the transmission fluid and additive business this was especially true because the major problem that allowed so many of us to get into the automatic transmission parts and fluid business was the phenomenon of what we all ended up calling “SHUDDER”.
Thirty years ago, lockup torque convertors were the OEM solution to better fuel economy. Literally overnight, everything with an automatic transmission had a torque convertor with a clutch in it. Wonder of wonders, something new to cause enough problems to delight the heart and fill the wallet of the most cynical transmission shop owner was now showing up in droves at their doorstep. It seems that, along with the new convertor technology, the OE’s failed to provide fluids designed for the problems they developed after accumulating some miles. Everyone rushed to find engineering solutions initially, but quickly found out the problem was one of fluid losing low speed frictional properties (additive depletion), much more often than a bad torque convertor. In the end, the solution was a combination of engineering and aftermarket ingenuity, but more importantly the OEM’s were forced to adopt fluids that were designed to eliminate the problem.
Fluid-wise, it was a very busy time because of these adoptions. We got shudder resistant fluids from Chrysler (ATF+4) from Ford (MECON V) from Toyota (T-IV) and GM (DEX IIIH and DEX VI). Then, the fluid dam broke, so to speak, and we have been flooded with new fluid types and exclusive formulations ever since. Even though it got better, the problem has never totally gone away and the aftermarket became the place to get safe products that solved the problem. The problem has not been exclusive to step automatics, unfortunately, every type of transmission is susceptible to some form of shudder but rarely for the same reasons. The typically consistent problem is almost always the issue of stick/slip that causes the event we call shudder, and it can be reduced or eliminated if the proper friction modifiers are used to restore the transmission fluid additives that control this problem. With that said, I was taken aback by the recent service bulletins issued by GM concerning their 8-speed transmissions, and the need to have a very expensive somewhat complex complete fluid exchange done to fix the potential or already apparent problem of T/C SHUDDER!
You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was stunned, it was like taking a trip in the “hot flush time machine” and going back 30 years. Are you kidding me…? After watching professionals and consumers solving their shudder problems with a bottle of over the counter, safe to use, transmission fluid additive for the last 30 years, it floored me this solution was never even a consideration. Once again, the OE looked the problem directly in the eye and offered up the most expensive solution they could think of. In the end, I am not surprised by their short-myopic and underwhelming delight of the new opportunities for companies to solve problems and offer cost effective solutions. There are some days it’s good to be in the transmission additive business.
If your vehicle is experiencing torque converter clutch shudder, juddering, or shaking, LUBEGARD has a few solutions for you. Try our Instant Shudder Fixx, or our Platinum High-Performance ATF Protectant. For additional information about these products and general how-to information, check out our helpful videos on them.