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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
15,480 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

1997 Chevrolet Suburban transmission problems

transmission problem

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1997 Chevrolet Suburban Owner Comments

problem #5

Dec 232003

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 77,400 miles


The torque converter clutch relay in the transmission overheated, causing excessive pressure, which caused the transmission fluid to push the dip stick up out of the dipstick tube. Then the transmission fluid escaped. Traveling down the undercarriage of the vehicle, the transmission fluid hit the exhaust manifold and ignited into a flame that burned along the undercarriage of the vehicle (including the steel plate under the gas tank) and extended two feet beyond the rear of the vehicle. We were forced to evacuate ourselves and our four children from the vehicle along side the highway. Four other vehicles were forced off the road as white smoke hindered their field of vision. The mil indicator (I.e., check engine light) had a code of P1870 (transmission slipping). This code has been associated with hundreds of torque converter clutch relay failures in GM/Chevy full-size pick-ups, Suburban, and Tahoe (discovered by searching for "P1870" on the internet and queries at the NHTSA website). Technicians have determined that the tcc relay is undersized and tends to overheat causing major transmission damage (in my case, a full transmission re-build was required - $2000 plus towing and rental car). Technicians say that there is an aftermarket tcc relay made by sonnax that, when installed, prevents this problem from occurring. This is a serious safety issue (just look at the black charring on the bottom of my gas tank shield) that caused great peril to my wife, four children, and myself. GM needs to be held accountable to correct this potentially fatal failure.

- Concord, OH, USA

problem #4

Oct 012001

Suburban 4WD 8-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Vehicle experiences grinding/rumbling while in highend torque situations (I.e. going up slight grades not steep enough to cause downshift). Stops when I bump accelerator. Replaced U-joints, but did not fix. Was told by GM tech it was probably torque convertor failing.

- Papillion, NE, USA

problem #3

May 041998


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Fuel pump and sending unit melted and shorted out causing car to stall on the road.torque convertor replaced/ trans reconditioned, power steering box leaking/ replaced. Both catalytic converters replaced, ac compressor replaced. Numerous coolant leaks fixed. Windshield replaced due to defect. Battery replaced due to acid leak. Whats next?

- Mission Viejo, CA, USA

problem #2

Aug 191999


  • miles
Our Chevy Suburban has just over 50,000 miles and is past the warranty mileage. On a trip to las vegas, the truck started to jerk fiercly into gear. When I accelerated, the truck would jerk into gear. The transmission specialist that did the repairs advised us that the torque converter had gone out, and shrap metal was getting into the transmission fluid. This happened in a matter of 1 day. The technician also advised us that he had performed the same repairs on 3 other Chevy Suburban that day alone. We were told that this was not caused by "normal wear and tear" and that this should not be happening to a truck with only 50,000 miles. I took the truck in to get the tires balanced, and was told that the front brakes needed to be replaced. When the technician was beginning to remove the brake pads- he noticed that there were cracks in the rotors. We were advised that the cracks were heat cracks, and that we would need to purchase new rotors. Once again, we were told that this was not caused by"normal wear and tear".

- Perris, CA, USA

problem #1

Apr 011999

Suburban 4WD

  • miles
Transmission: Torque converter blew up.....fuel pump failed and had to be replaced, wiring overheated and insulation melted off inside fuel tank.....steering: Erratic while making right turn

- Modesto, CA, USA

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