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Discussion Starter #1
I was hauling a mattress on top of my xb awhile ago when the engine suddenly started acting weird. It was a fairly windy day so I'm worried that I may have done something to the transmission.

Now it drives VERY sluggishly and won't go over 50mph. At first I thought it was in safe-mode/limp mode but everything I've found says that it just won't rev over 3000 rpms when that's the case.

My car will rev over 3000 rpms. It's just really, really sluggish. Like, it takes forever to get up to speed after stopping and everyone behind me gets frustrated and speeds around me. We're talking WAY sluggish.

I took it in and the repair guy said he thought it was the transmission and that I'd need to pay $1600 (!!!) to have it replaced. Since I don't have $1600 bones just lying around I was hoping that it was perhaps something a little simpler and less of a break the bank situation. This car has been very reliable so I'm hoping that the trend can continue.

Any help or suggestions would be most appreciated!

---------- Post added 01-04-2016 at 05:55 PM ----------

I forgot to mention... After this happened I noticed that my car's exhaust started getting increasingly loud. I took a look underneath and noticed that the exhaust pipe was completely split apart before it hit the muffler.

Obviously that will need to be repaired so my car doesn't sound like a monster truck. However, I'm not much of a car guy so I wasn't sure if that could be what is causing the sluggishness.
 

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First, do you have a check engine light? If so, get the codes read - that will give an indication of where to start your diagnosis. If you don't have any codes, then it becomes more difficult to pinpoint. Could potentially be any of the following (and others not listed below):

EGR valve
Vacuum leak
Oxygen sensor
Fuel pump
Fuel filter (located on the pump)
Fuel pressure regulator
Fuel injector
Blocked exhaust (the split *might* be from pressure build-up)
Clogged air filter

It could also be the transmission, as the mechanic told you. If you have a manual, a failing clutch could behave that way. Start the car, put it in 5th gear and slowly release the clutch pedal. If the engine dies, your clutch is still OK. If it continues to idle, then your clutch is worn and needs replacing.

If you have an automatic, your best bet to determine whether the transmission's at fault is to take it to a REPUTABLE transmission shop, one that's known for not quoting a rebuild on every car through the door. You can check your fluid to see if it's burned - any color other than red or pink is not good.

The split exhaust shouln't affect performance as long as the split is after the cat. If it's split at or before the cat, then you need to fix the exhaust first, becuase it's affecting the downstream O2 sensor readings
 

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Discussion Starter #3
First, do you have a check engine light? If so, get the codes read - that will give an indication of where to start your diagnosis. If you don't have any codes, then it becomes more difficult to pinpoint. Could potentially be any of the following (and others not listed below):

EGR valve
Vacuum leak
Oxygen sensor
Fuel pump
Fuel filter (located on the pump)
Fuel pressure regulator
Fuel injector
Blocked exhaust (the split *might* be from pressure build-up)
Clogged air filter

It could also be the transmission, as the mechanic told you. If you have a manual, a failing clutch could behave that way. Start the car, put it in 5th gear and slowly release the clutch pedal. If the engine dies, your clutch is still OK. If it continues to idle, then your clutch is worn and needs replacing.

If you have an automatic, your best bet to determine whether the transmission's at fault is to take it to a REPUTABLE transmission shop, one that's known for not quoting a rebuild on every car through the door. You can check your fluid to see if it's burned - any color other than red or pink is not good.

The split exhaust shouldn't affect performance as long as the split is after the cat. If it's split at or before the cat, then you need to fix the exhaust first, because it's affecting the downstream O2 sensor readings

Thanks for the reply!

I haven't had any check engine lights at all which seems weird considering it clearly has some issues.

I've checked the air filter and it seems fine.

I'll get the exhaust worked out asap. The pipe split about a foot or so before the rear axil right where the support holding it to the undercarriage is located if that's any help.

I just tried putting it in 5th and it kept running when I let up the clutch pedal so that's a bit of bad news. I'll have to look into getting the clutch replaced soon.
 

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Dead box
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There's your power loss, right there. Replace the clutch and you'll be back in business. I'm a little surprised your mechanic didn't diagnose the clutch when you had it in the shop. A clutch replacement should run you less than a grand at a good independent shop.

BTW, your clutch will keep slipping, so you should replace it ASAP. If you get to metal on metal, you may be in for a new flywheel, too.

---------- Post added 01-04-2016 at 02:17 PM ----------

One more thing, a failing clutch won't trigger any codes, so that's why you didn't see any lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Makes sense. But it seems weird that I didn't get the (extremely noticeably significant) power loss until after I attempted to move a mattress on top of the car on a windy day. It was like a switch flipped during that ride and I lost all get up in the car. Can a faulty trans go that quickly?

It's just weird that 50mph seems to be the absolute cutoff as far as speed goes. I can get it up to 50 but the needle just absolutely refuses to go over it no matter what I do. That's what got me to thinking that maybe some internal sensor was telling it to behave in the way it is.

I'll do some shopping around to get the transmission fixed up. Many thanks for all the help!
 

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The clutch is a wear-out part. It eventually reaches the point that it won't hold well (and then at all) - it would have happened regardless of what you were hauling. It's like your brake pads - the friction material eventually wears out after so much use. When clutches begin to slip, top speed and acceleration are where you see it the most.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Total bummer. I figured it was due for a new clutch but I was hoping the power loss was related to something a little easier to work out.

I only drive to and from work these days and it isn't far so I guess I'll just have to deal with slo-mo for a few months while I save up for the trans.

Thanks again for all your help!
 

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You might make it a few months, or you might not make it until Thursday. It depends on how worn it is, your driving habits, how many hills you negotiate regularly, etc. Stay off the highway, don't drive it hard, and don't ride the clutch, and you *might* get by for a while.

If you're confident in your DIY skills, you can get a clutch kit for about 100 bucks, but it's an involved job - give yourself a couple of days to do it. I'm facing replacement at some point in the future (175k on the original, but still running fine), and I'm debating whether to have a shop do it. If the car wasn't in the middle of its 11th Midwestern winter (and the road salt associated with that), I'd be much more inclined to tackle it on my own.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, I don't really consider myself a car guy but I'm very good at following instructions and I suppose I've done a lot more work on vehicles than the average joe, having grown up on a farm.

I checked out the step-by-step that someone posted online and it didn't look impossible but I just don't have the space to do it. It isn't exactly a repair in the driveway kind of thing, as you know!

I only live about 5 minutes from work and since I'm in the midwest it's pretty flat so no worries about hills here. I'm going to start calling around to see if I can find somewhere cheaper to take it to get it fixed. I feel like car-x was trying to screw me on it.
 
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