TJ AX-15 is difficult to shift! Replace clutch, clutch & rebuild, or just suck it up! - JeepForum.com
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Unread 09-25-2009, 08:12 PM   #1
NORCALROOTS
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TJ AX-15 is difficult to shift! Replace clutch, clutch & rebuild, or just suck it up!

Folks,

I have a 1997 Wrangler with 121K miles and an AX-15 transmission that I'm having difficulty getting into 1st, 2nd, and reverse. Here are the symptoms I'm experiencing:

Background:
-Clutch has 81K miles on it and it's a Centerforce Dual Friction clutch
-Difficulty was experienced with clutch in Aug 2008 and following replacement of fluid with Royal Purple recommended gear oil it ran smoothly until Aug 2009
-This time the it's much more difficult to get into gear than in 2008

Symptoms began at 119K:
-Difficulty getting it into 1st, 2nd, or reverse while engine is running or off
-Getting it into 1st gear while the Jeep is rolling to a stop is much easier but there is still a slight resistance
-Level of difficulty getting it into gear varies from VERY difficult to slight resistance

What I've done to attempt to resolve symptoms:
-Replaced transmission fluid with Redline MT-90 but experienced no immediate results. Driven it for 30 miles or so.
-During replacement of fluid, I did not find any significant sized pieces of metal on the magnetic drain plug but there was a blueberry sized ball of tiny metal shavings on magnet.

Results:
-Shifting is still as difficult as it was before the flush of the transmission fluid

Where I am now:
-I drove my Jeep to the transmission shop this morning and on the way I noticed that getting it into gear was fairly easy compared to how it's been driving the past few months. My Jeep is currently at Bryant Transmission here in San Francisco. The owner (George) has told me he doesn't think there is anything wrong with the transmission and they were unable to produce the difficult shifting. He continued that it is likely the clutch and hydraulic cylinder and suggests I have those replaced.

Options:
-Have the clutch and cylinder replaced for $425 plus parts
-Have the transmission rebuilt for $7-800 and install of clutch for $425
-Do nothing and wait a longer period for the MT-90 to take effect

Q. How long does it take for the Redline MT-90 to take effect? I saw one post indicating 150 miles, true?
Q. If I'm going to have the mechanic replace the clutch for $425 should I spend $800 more to have the transmission rebuilt or am I just wasting money?

Thanks in advance for your recommendation,

Brian in San Francisco

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Unread 09-25-2009, 08:18 PM   #2
my1979impala
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i had that problem with my ax-15 in my xj along with grinding while shifting into a few gears. took it to a mechanic and they said that basically all my syncro gears were gone and that its still driveable but it'll just be hard to shift and there might be some grinding. if you find out otherwise let me know so i can try to fix mine
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Unread 09-26-2009, 03:12 PM   #3
masterofyard
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I had the same trouble after my tranny was rebuilt. Have a friend who works at a jeep fdealer who told me customers have experienced the same problem. Turns out, ther regular gear oil is too heavy for the tranny, chrysler supercided the fliud to regular 10-30 motor oil. I changed my fliud and have had no problems since then. I have driven a good 3-4,000 miles so far.
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Unread 09-26-2009, 03:38 PM   #4
1CleanTJ
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start with replacing your transmission fluid, toss some 10w30 or 10w40 motor oil in there, just make sure its not GL-5
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Unread 09-26-2009, 03:42 PM   #5
NORCALROOTS
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I replaced the transmission fluid with Redline MT-90 and have driven it approximately 30 miles with no immediate results. Prior to the MT-90, the transmission had 10W-30 Royal Purple motor oil in it for 1 year. The difficult shifting began roughly two months ago.
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Unread 09-26-2009, 04:03 PM   #6
Longoddr1
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I run synthetic ATF in my ax 15 and it shifts fine. If its your clutch it should also have some drag in gear while starting the engine. The clutch would not be disengaging completely and dragging. To test it just disconnect your safety switch on the clutch (for testing only) and put it in 1st gear, clutch pedal down and crank the engine over. If the clutch is dragging, the vehicle will creep forward while cranking.
I would just drop the heavier lubricant and go back to the ATF and see how it shifts. The tolerance on your synchros, bearings, bushings and gears require the lighter weight fluid to get in and lubricate.
Just some info for you.
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Unread 10-07-2009, 01:07 AM   #7
NORCALROOTS
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Hey folks,

As it turns out, the clutch pilot and release bearings were the culprits for all my shifting issues so I decided not to have the transmission rebuilt and am hoping that I switched to using MT-90 early enough that I won't have to drop the tranny again anytime soon. Thanks to all (including Jerry B) for their replies.

For those interested in cost, the mechanic charged me $425 for the install of the clutch and $65 for the resurfacing of the flywheel.

After 3 days without my daily driver, I'm back on the road and it's shifting as smooth as the day I bought it back in May of 1997.

Brian in San Francisco
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Unread 10-07-2009, 04:20 AM   #8
rikkards
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If it is the stock flywheel, get them to at least refund your money or replace it. The FSM says NOT to resurface the flywheel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NORCALROOTS View Post
Hey folks,

As it turns out, the clutch pilot and release bearings were the culprits for all my shifting issues so I decided not to have the transmission rebuilt and am hoping that I switched to using MT-90 early enough that I won't have to drop the tranny again anytime soon. Thanks to all (including Jerry B) for their replies.

For those interested in cost, the mechanic charged me $425 for the install of the clutch and $65 for the resurfacing of the flywheel.

After 3 days without my daily driver, I'm back on the road and it's shifting as smooth as the day I bought it back in May of 1997.

Brian in San Francisco
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Unread 10-09-2009, 07:55 AM   #9
CrawlingForward
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Hey,

I'm having the exact same shifting issues as you, replaced the fluids and everything same as you, but I was told that it was the synchro that was giving me the issues.

Did you have a major whining noise that increased in pitch as you accelerated but stopped the second you switched out of gear?
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Unread 10-09-2009, 11:37 AM   #10
bige2533
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You might want to try Redline MTL. When I put MT-90 in mine, it helped with shifting while it was cold but only slightly. Next fluid change I'm going with MTL.
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Unread 10-09-2009, 11:50 AM   #11
JeepN95YJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rikkards View Post
If it is the stock flywheel, get them to at least refund your money or replace it. The FSM says NOT to resurface the flywheel.
Or, just be happy that your transmission is shifting "as smooth as the day you bought it" and keep driving it.

Yes, the FSM does say that (at least on my 2001 TJ 2.5) but I doubt you will experience problems.
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Unread 11-23-2009, 02:13 PM   #12
NORCALROOTS
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Hey CrawlingForward,

Nope, I didn't have a high pitched whine with my transmission so maybe your issue is different than mine.

Brian in San Francisco
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Unread 11-23-2009, 02:16 PM   #13
NORCALROOTS
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Hmmm....yep, obviously I missed that during my research. As for getting my money back, I think I'm going to let it go. As long as the clutch and tranny are working well, I'm not too worried...

Let's just hope it doesn't create a bigger problem down the road.

Brian in San Francisco

Quote:
Originally Posted by rikkards View Post
If it is the stock flywheel, get them to at least refund your money or replace it. The FSM says NOT to resurface the flywheel.
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Unread 11-23-2009, 02:22 PM   #14
MUDDYSAHARA
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funny thing is that last time this came up i mentioned to use 10w30 and got blasted for it......glad to see that i'm not the only one running 10w30.
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Unread 04-07-2011, 05:54 PM   #15
NORCALROOTS
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Folks,

1 year and 7 months later I'm experiencing the same difficult shifting problem with my clutch. This is probably one of the more frustrating issues I've run into. I'm headed to Bryant Transmission (install shop) in San Francisco (again) to see what they say. Seems as though my workmanship lasted longer than theirs but who knows. I replaced the clutch in 2002 and it last 7 years. I decided to have a shop "professionally" install it in 2009 and less than 2 years later I'm experience the exact same symptoms.

Brian in San Francisco
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