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Gearbox starting in 3rd when cold??

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JPB
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:40    Post subject: Gearbox starting in 3rd when cold?? Reply with quote

..For the first couple of miles, or thereabouts, on these colder days, I'm finding that the Mini won't engage first or second gear (High range only affected) when driving, even when I'm pulling into traffic and pushing hard enough on the accelerator to operate the kickdown switch. In low range, it starts off in second which is how it's supposed to behave but driving it that way on the road isn't an option because changing from low to high can only be accomplished by stopping, selecting neutral and then moving the lever back all the way into high, it would also max out at around 22mph if driven in low range, plus doing that would cause massive understeer since there's no centre diff.

Once the temperature (presumably that of the transmission fluid since the heater starts to provide warmth after as little as half a mile) has risen sufficiently, the 'box behaves perfectly in high range and will change down and up as it should. The vehicle has only covered around 42,000 miles since it was new in 1997, the fluids, including that ATF were changed during the service carried out by the importer prior to my buying [the car] and that ATF is the correct fluid for the Mini's Toyota-supplied A131L/L gearbox, I.E. Toyota WS fluid and not the Dexron 2 that some folk use - inadvisedly - in these 'boxes. The fluid is as pink as it was when I bought the car, it feels silky smooth when squeezed between the fingertips and the levels, both when cold and when hot are bang on the lines, gearbox function is otherwise perfect with up changes only really being noticeable as a result of the rev counter needle dropping a couple of times between standstill and around 20mph, which is where it takes off just fine in (high range) top, that's to say third as the 131 has a converter lockup but no overdrive and that lockup comes in at a maximum of 35mph, allowing acceleration to continue up to the car's maximum 56ish mph, more if I'm gathering momentum down one hill to help me up the next. Laughing

This is definitely not "Morning Sickness" since the box doesn't slip, it's merely annoyingly blunt when taking off in 3rd and besides, Morning Sickness usually happens when there's some form of contaminant in the fluid. I did think that I may have taken on some water after going fairly briskly through a ford the other week, but the pressures at the check locations on the valve block are exactly at the middle of their correct range in each position and that also eliminates sticking valves.
I have taken these boxes apart before now but am reluctant to haul this one out and strip it just yet because I'm thinking that there has to be something I'm missing. There is a rudimentary ECU that functions for both the engine and the gearbox, but it contains only a handful of random passives and two Darlington transistors, so checking each out of circuit took all of an hour, including repotting the components and reconnecting all three of the wires that come from the unit.

Next thought I had was that the thermal coupling on the transmission fluid cooler may have been sending the wrong information to the 'box, allowing fluid to run colder for longer than it should from a start, but unlike the Toyotas that use this same gearbox, albeit transversely orientated, there isn't in fact a sensor in the cooler and nor is there any electrical connection between the gearbox and the coolant temperature sender for the engine.

I'm now thinking that maybe this is normal in cold conditions, after all it does start behaving eventually, but why would it default to its highest ratio from cold when every other automatic transmission I've ever met - and that's no small quantity - have only come with connections that allowed the unit to avoid changing up into an o/d ratio until up to full temperature, in the way that the U441EL in the bB does in fact, and many other 'boxes with 1:1 3rd and o/d 4th.

Your thoughts on this much appreciated unless they involve pouring STP into the ATF!  Shocked  (I kid you not; a USA-based "specialist" suggested that I should try that. Nooooo! Evil or Very Mad

Cheers.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 13:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd suggest you view that claimed ATF change with suspicion, the change may not have happened, or a cheaper oil was used.

The symptoms point to the transmission oil being too heavy, so I would replace with the exact correct oil and see the effect of that before going anywhere else.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 16:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply and I appreciate that you took the time to compose it, however the fluid used is the (Toyota WS) fluid that's meant to be used in the Aisin (A131L) transmission found in the Mini. Also, the problem wasn't there for the first few months of the car's regular use. The same - but transversely orientated - transmission in the 1990 Corolla is filled with the same fluid and that gives no trouble, even on mornings when the temperature is well below freezing and no, there's no water in the fluid either, this was checked in case the recent heavy rain had splashed far enough to force its way down the tube. Unlikely though, and samples taken in the tribology block at my old workplace showed only clean, uncontaminated WS ATF to be present. Also, the O ring seal around the dipstick was showing no signs of leaking, though I hadn't expected it to as that would also place the air filter on the throttle body, and the ignition electrics below the water, and that would have killed the engine which is still working happily enough and hasn't so much as coughed throughout all of this.

The other strange thing, and a thing that points to the electrical connections from the thermal switch being to blame, is that the car runs through 2nd and 3rd gears when pulling away in low range and will allow low range 1st to be selected manually, an action that leaves it in 3rd in high range, the issue is only found when in high range (rwd or 4wd). Trouble is, it's not possible to change from low to high range on the move and by the time I've stopped, selected neutral and then moved the transfer box into low, the car then moves off in 3rd again.
It's booked it in at the local 4x4 specialist's workshop next week since they're very familiar with both n/s and e/w versions of the A131L and have expressed some surprise at the notion that one of these sloppy but strong old devices would go wrong at so low a mileage and with so little torque to cope with. Bizarrely, the Mini's ability to set away in top isn't so limiting that the car couldn't be used at all, since by the time it's doing around 12mph it would already have been in 3rd thanks to the ultra low gearing required to get a 55bhp engine with only 80Lb/ft of torque to move a 970Kg car away from the line.  Laughing

Worst case scenario; I connect my old engine pre-heater into the Mini's cooling system so that, after ten minutes of being connected, the switch will start in a position that tells the gearbox it's warm enough. I have a previously idle car charger in front of my house, supplied by the local councils around here to encourage folk into EVs. I can connect the pre-heater to that if all else fails since the device and an electric car share the same rough duty outdoor connector styles and living so far from a town, I won't be owning an EV any time soon.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I am not wrong, we are talking about Pajero Mini ? Mine 1997 Pajero Mini is doing the exact same thing. In summer, it is always OK but in winter it goes to 3rd gear as soon as I shift to "D". I was trying to figure out this issue that I stumbled upon your post.

Mine is behaving a bit different than yours. Once it gets warm, it will not start shifting gears properly unless engine is turned off and then back on after a while.

If this is a feature / fail safe measure, I can't understand why the Mitsubishi guys chose to automatically select 3rd gear in cold weather and why it does not get fixed automatically once the optimum temperature is reached.

I could not find any service manual for this car but I had a look at Mitsubishi Montero Transmission service manual. Many diagnostic codes are telling that vehicle will automatically shift to 3rd gear if the code is produced.

Mine doesn't even turn on Check Engine Light thus no code as well. I think this is surely related to either engine coolant temperature or a dedicated temperature sensor for ATF
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Ijaz, It's good to see another owner on the forum! Yes, I am talking about the Pajero Mini, in my case, this sweet looking 1997 one:



Quote:
I think this is surely related to either engine coolant temperature or a dedicated temperature sensor for ATF.


Yes, I am certain of this, but I have yet to try the idea of turning mine off then back on again when it's warm but hasn't yet sorted itself out. I should give that a go and report back when I've had the chance to try as it's something I hadn't thought about so thanks for your input, it's much appreciated.

I sometimes visit https://www.pakwheels.com/used-cars/search/-/mk_mitsubishi/md_pajero-mini/ There seem to be many Pajero Minis for sale there at any time, especially as there are currently only around eight on the road in the UK, where Kei cars generally aren't so sought after. That's a shame as many Keis - the Paj Mini included - are very suitable for our congested roads. The tiny one can skip across mud that my Discovery copes with, but only after [the Discovery] sinks alarmingly into the quagmire before finding its grip and pulling through. No surprise there though, as the Land Rover weighs the guts of 2 tons! No wonder it feels slow in spite of all that lovely torque! Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 12:04    Post subject: Reply with quote

JPB wrote:
Hello Ijaz, It's good to see another owner on the forum! Yes, I am talking about the Pajero Mini, in my case, this sweet looking 1997 one:


Wow, I love this little beauty so much. I wish i could post mine Pajero Pics, the forum is not allowing me.

I have been using it for about 4 years, love this little wonder. Mine would have been always stuck in 3rd no matter winter or summer, then I changed the transmission ECU (a small electronic box located on the left front pillar near front passenger feet area) and that solved the problem at least in summer. Now I am doing some more research and will keep you updated when I find a solution to this issue.

Other than that, this vehicle is simply "Awesome"
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 13:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for mentioning the transmission ECU. I may, once all of the external sensors and wiring have been checked, open up the casing of the ECU and check for swollen electrolytic capacitors as these are most likely to be causing any random symptoms - especially in a car that's been used so little as mine has, so even if caps aren't swollen they may need to be desoldered and reformed, and if I'm removing caps to connect them to my reforming circuit I would be better off replacing with new caps. I may also do a blanket resolder to the board in that ECU if there's the slightest sign of dull areas of solder and no other indications of failure. I'm hoping that the control unit isn't potted in pitch or some sort of resin, this can be a **** to get in about at, especially as the only reliable way I've found to de-pot an ECU in which pitch is used is to soak it in petrol overnight. I'm already in trouble for using the dishwasher to steam fish, so making the house stink of petrol might be a bad move.. Please, Mitsubishi, tell me that the components in that control unit aren't potted!

Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are two ECUs in the Mini, one called main ECU and the other is called TCU (transmission control unit) or A/T ECU. I don't like to be the bearer of the bad news but the TCU is epoxy packed, unfortunately. I am not sure about the main ECU.

You are right that capacitors are the components with shortest life span and also soldering has a life span. We are talking about 1997 models which are almost a quarter century old now.

But being an electronics engineer myself, I have my doubts upon soldering / components failure. It is certainly either some condition which is not met in cold weather or it might a wiring harness issues (again related to temperature to some extent). I had ordered an English Service Manual from Amazon but it proved to be a waste of money. Now I am translating a Russian service manual for Pajero Mini, hopefully that may give some clue.

This "transmission stuck in 3rd" is a fail safe feature by Mitsubishi, clearly stated in the service manual of Pajero Montero English service documents, so we can assume that same is the case with Pajero Mini.

All the best (for both of us and other guys around the world facing same issue) Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:59    Post subject: Reply with quote

Epoxy packed, oh dear! So a new unit may be the way to progress with this. I could soak the unit in some sort of solvent but if that solvent dissolves epoxy resin, chances are it would also dissolve the enclosures of some of the components inside, and that would remove any markings that could otherwise have given me an idea of these components' values.
Megazip are listing a new unit:



But at a price:

82511
MR195407

CONTROL UNIT, A/T

Japanese Warehouse

3...5 business days

US $745.34





At this morning's exchange rate, that's around £580 GBP! Seems expensive, but a used one from a specialist breaker would cost almost as much (£400 Shocked ) and I'm almost afraid to ask the local Mitsubishi dealer's parts department how much they would ask for the unit, they're very willing and can obtain any part that's needed but may be even more costly. Job for Monday: Go to the dealer and ask them how much money they want for this, they may surprise me by being cheaper than Megazip, I shall ask.
Worst case scenario, I clench my teeth and buy one, then I discover that the fault lies within the loom somewhere and have to spend more money on something else. On the other hand, I spent a greater proportion of the Toyota's value on a new air con compressor when it needed one, and if one of my cars needs something, then they need it and I'm not one for scrapping an otherwise fully functional, strong and reliable vehicle for the want of one component that will probably last for another twenty or so years.

Oh well, I wasn't planning on having a social life for the next month or two anyway! Laughing
The plan then: Go and see the dealer on Monday morning, ask their price, hope that they can get me one for less cash. It probably contains around £20 worth of components at most, so that's one expensive box of epoxy resin!

I like the Pajero Mini, that's the bottom line, and it's completely free of rust and has been treated to keep it that way, the mechanical components are all as one would expect in a car that's seen very little use in its lifetime so far and realistically, the only alternatives to fixing it are:
a) Buy another one, except that the only one currently available in the UK is a high mileage example and is the complex, 20 valve turbo version which I don't particularly want.
b) Get down to the Suzuki dealership and see whether they can get a late model, pre-2019 Jimny for me at a sensible price. (no chance, these things are holding their values better than anything just now..)
c) Part exchange the Mini against a full size Pajero as UK specialist dealers have plenty of good ones to choose from. By the time I travel to the nearest, some 120 miles from my location, the car would be warmed through nicely so wouldn't show any signs of the fault.. Or might fail completely on the way and besides, I couldn't knowingly pass on a vehicle that had a fault as that would be morally reprehensible and I was brought up better than that.
d) Part exchange the car with the fault declared and accept the reduction that this represents in the car's value, but then I would end up with a car that's closer in size to my Discovery and I couldn't really justify owning two larger 4x4s. Unless I can strike a deal where I part exchange both the Discovery and the Pajero Mini, which would get me next to no money for two decent cars.
e) Approach an import specialist and ask them to find me a similar car with a similarly low mileage in Japan, but make sure that I buy a warranty that covers electronic components, then sell mine through eBay with the fault declared, meaning that I would probably lose around 50% of its true worth.

Darn it, I'm going to fix it! Older cars often surprise us with bouts of bad behaviour but there are worse things in life than having to spend money to preserve a rare car that I happen to like.. A lot! Embarassed
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) Too expensive, I bought a used TCU for around $80

2) We are not sure, if it is really the TCU. So no need to gamble the hard earned money.

3) Only if the transmission always stuck in 3rd, we can suspect this TCU (as was the case with mine till last year,and after changing TCU, it works good at least in summer or warmed up conditions. So there is some other issue as well to be sorted out)

4) I will investigate it in coming week, I have some plans to fool around with temperature sensors and also translate a Russian service manual.


Hopefully some work around or real cause of the problem can be found.

Kindly PM me your email address, this forum doesn't allow me to post pictures (a newbie)
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to take so long to get back to the thread. I took the Mini down to the Mitsubishi dealer yesterday and have booked it in for next thursday to have their diagnostic software connected to the job. I use an ELM 327 BT adaptor for fault finding and sadly, Ian Hawkins has yet to add these odd wee cars to his database, but as he wrote Torque originally for the Smart 450, 451 and Coupé I don't expect to see our cars added any time soon, though many JDM cars - my Toyota bB included - are read correctly in the Torque phone app.

The dealership was fine about being asked to help out with a 21 year old car of which only another half dozen or so are running in the whole of the UK, their attitude being that they can connect to the factory database and that the nation in which the car was intended to be sold is no obstacle, this is also the case with the Toyota dealer and my bB. Land Rover specialists, on the other hand, aren't willing to help out with my CKD Japanese Discovery but that's fine as I've since found a really straight, un messed with 1994 2.8 litre Diesel Shogun as a straight swap, ironically a survivor car - like the Discovery - that's never seen a welding torch thanks to its absence of the usual heavy handed application of underseal, which does more harm than good, but more on that acquisition at some future time.
Yesterday, when I had backed the Mini up the drive to the road above, I engaged drive and the car proved that it has a sense of humour by setting away through the gears as it ought always to do! It then travelled the twenty odd miles to the dealer's premises and was stopped there for around half an hour while I sat about talking to one of their mechanics and looking at a showroom full with split new vehicles, as well as a very tempting crew cab pickup that was a 180 mile ex-demo example with all of the gadgets and accessories thrown in. My Pajero Mini would, had I given in to the temptation to buy yet another car that I really wouldn't have needed, have been valued at 30% more as a P/X than it cost me last spring, a fact that just makes me even less likely to give up on the car, quirky faults and all.
Early this morning, a neighbour was having bother getting their Datsun X-Trail (how ironic, given that youtube coming together of Pajero Mini and the larger Datsun.. Laughing ) up their drive as the micron or so of frost on the floor had seen their admittedly very decent looking car unable to clamber out onto the road. I offered to pull her out and she said that she'd wait while I went home to get the Discovery out but I then confused her by taking the towing strop out of the Mini's boot, attaching that to the tiny Mitsubishi and hauling the stricken vehicle out for her, I didn't even need to use low range! Following this spot of gearbox abuse, I was half expecting a tantrum from my beloved old Kei class motor, but no, off it went 1, 2, 3, perfect. Still, it shall go to the garage next week as planned and we'll see whither their diagnostic gear can find a relevant code and they've also been tasked with fitting a fresh cam belt and changing the oil in engine, transfer case and both diffs as the engine oil in there is cheap & nasty, while that in the diffs is too thin and is to be replaced by some 140 grade stuff that managed to silence the diff in my Dolomite and continues to do so, some 80,000 miles and three years since I first used the product in there.

PM sent re email address.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 10:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good to hear from you. These cheap ELM scanners don't work with high quality cars like Pajero Mini Smile

BTW: I don't think any code is output when the TCU is chosing the transmission to stuck in 3rd.

Nice story of pulling the neighbour's car Smile

So you contacted Mitsubishi for a diagnostic, that sounds good to hear something direct from the horse's mouth. Let's see what they have to say.

Awaiting Mitubishi's answer.... Fingers crossed for a fixable solution.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 19:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ijaz wrote:
.....Fingers crossed for a fixable solution.


One way or another, the Mini will be fixed. Were the car a tired, worn example with other issues and the body rust that usually kills off older cars in the UK, then I may have considered giving up on it, but my Mini looks and feels more like a three year old than it does a twenty one year old car, and finding another as good would be difficult.

I got your email but, as you might have noticed in an earlier post in this thread, I seem to have been a victim of FlickR's recent move toward severe free account user restrictions for those of us who have lots of images saved on the site, so I shall post your pictures of your Pajero Mini as soon as I've set up a user account with another hosting site.

Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

After quite a long time, finally I got the Mini Pajero gear shifting issue fixed.

I was waiting for spring / summer to see if the issue is really related with temperature. It was not. Gear shifting problem persisted even in hot noon.

Went to a used parts dealer and he helped me in fixing the issue.

1) Changed the TCU (checked 3 units), no luck.

2) Decided to change the Auto Gear Box.

3) After changing, gear shifting started working with my own TCU but only for few KMs.

4) The new gear box showing same problem, stuck in 3rd.

5) Changed the TCU and now it is good, proper gear shifting.


I guess my problem was a combination of the gear box + TCU. It cost me a total of about $200 including labor.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine has been behaving itself perfectly since the weather has been less cold. (I hesitate to say "warmer" as that would imply that warmth existed in the first place..) I had been using a hair dryer borrowed from my next door neighbour - a lovely person who has become used to my eccentric taste in cars over the years and allows me to park something on her driveway if I find myself short of space on my own - and this has been working perfectly, five minutes of blasting hot air into the trim panel behind which the TCM lives will see it behaving itself for the rest of the day. So I'm confident that the TCM has been the cause of this issue and I may buy a new one through the dealer, at a much lower cost than Megazip would want for the device.
On a couple of occasions, I've had the air conditioning blowing cold during spells in heavy traffic with the car crawling along for miles on end, this has caused the transmission issue to appear but,simply by increasing the temperature at the vents and blowing warm air through instead, all becomes well again within a mile or so, this is so easy to do that, even if I don't change that module just yet, the car remains predictable in its behaviour.

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