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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm working on a 2012 Malibu with some serious transmission problems. There is no DTC's to use for troubleshooting. When placed into drive there is two loud clunking noises, none in reverse. The entire engine and transmission shakes. All mounts are good. Checked the fluid level, was good, but the fluid was dark as coal. After 3 complete fluid changes fluid is still coming out very dark! When driving the car it feels like there is no shifting action at all. Car is hard to get moving, once moving the car runs very smooth. I also pulled the TCM and cleaned all the solenoids, I think this transmission is toast. Anyone have any suggestions? The car has over 185,000 miles and I think this is the first time the fluid was ever changed!
 

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2011 Malibu LTZ 3.6L V6 Red Jewel Tintcoat
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A long time ago there was a member who shared that he was on the team that jointly developed the 6-speed transmission with Ford.

Two things that he shared that are proof that intelligence doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with wisdom:
  1. The filter was designed to be "forever" and was not serviceable since it was trapped between the 2 case halves, and
  2. The transmission was tested in the lab to go 200,ooo miles with no need for service whatsoever: No fluid changes, no filter changes (see #1 above), and no need for any adjustments.
The lab did not account for damage from external sources, such as the road (potholes, debris, etc.) or from drivers who don't understand that a machine that is this complex needs to be serviced if it's to go many, many miles, instead of being treated like a toaster or any other appliance.

What you described is scary! For you to change (drain and fill) the fluid 3 times and it's still black tells me that either you changed the engine oil (not likely) or that there is an immense amount of worn stuff floating around that just keeps being worn further.
 

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I would say it's toast. Surprised it lasted 185k miles without any fluid changes.
If the rest of the car is rust free and in good shape a new trans. is cheaper than another car now days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Didn't mistake the engine oil for the transmission fluid! It's funny driving the car on the road once you get it going drives like a dream, very smooth! Just putting it into drive you get clunk, clunk.... Can't feel it shift at all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A quick update! Problem fixed, I found that the TCM fuse in the engine compartment fuse box was blown. (no idea what caused that). After replacing the fuse the the hard shift into drive went away and driving the shifting was normal. Now to address the dark fluid issue, after 4 drain and flushes the fluid was still coming out very dark, fearing that the clutch disks were destroyed, I found a replacement transmission out of a 2011 at my local pick and pull for $90.00 installed it, reprogramed the ECM and TCM together and the car drives just fine.
 
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