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Shifting Into Lower Gears... Frozen?


Full Member
Nov 7, 2002
Denver, CO
Yesterday I decided to take the Av out into the snowy streets here in Denver... see picture.


Pulling out of my garage onto my street I drove the truck in 1st gear while in 4HI. ?You can see by the picture that the conditions were quite challenging... oh it was fun!! ;D ?With chains on all four tires and tow strap in hand, I could drive almost anywhere and pull just about any stuck vehicle... except the city busses strewn throughout the city. ?I wish the 1500 had the snow plow option!! ?After having my fun, and playing the Good Samaritan, it was time to run my errands... at least that was the excuse I gave my girlfriend. ;)

Many of the main streets in town were plowed, and quite slushy, so I switched to Auto 4WD and put the transmission into 3rd with Tow/Haul engaged. ?After running my errands, really just an excuse to drive in the snow, I pulled back onto my street. ?I put the truck back into 4HI and attempted to shift back down into 1st gear, but I couldn?t get the transmission to engage below 'Drive'. ?I am not sure what the linkage looks like underneath, but it felt like something was jamming the linkage... perhaps ice? ?I went out this morning, after having the Av in the garage overnight, and the truck is fine... I am able to shift down into any gear.

Has anyone experienced this before? ?Could this have been something mechanical rather than my 'frozen linkage' assumption? ?I did put a lot of strain on the transmission when pulling other vehicles out of the snow. ?However, when pulling out other vehicles the Av was always in 1st gear, and for a few heavier vehicles (a Ford F150 Super Crew ?:B: ) I engaged 4LO, but I never had a problem shifting back into 1st gear. ?It was only until after driving on the slushy and wet streets in town and turning back onto my street that I couldn't get the car back down into 1st gear. ?Anyone have some insight to this odd occurance?

Sorry, kind of a long post...
I have not had that problem, at least not yet. Glad you don't have it now. As I understand it, chains are not to be used.
Hi s0litude

Fellow CO AV here - I was up around Nederland Tues night and when I got back to Denver I noticed shifting down into 2nd & 1st was very very stiff - since I had been through some very snowy roads and drifts I figured I was getting froze up - the next day my AV was fine.

I agree with you that it was just an overload of snow freezing up.

What part of Denver are you in?
I am at this time not aware of any mechanical reason for the inability to downshift the trans. the linkage could have been frozen with a build up of ice and snow given your description. I can not think of any reason internally. Although it would seem reasonable that if the linkage was frozen would it not make it hard to move into reverse or park? The true test will have to wait till spring! ;)
Harveywk said:
I have not had that problem, at least not yet. Glad you don't have it now. As I understand it, chains are not to be used.

I have never heard about this before... Chains are not to be used?!? I am not necessarily refuting your statement, but I would really like additionally opinions on this. Anyone have an opinion on chains with the Av?

Blueruck, I am glad to hear someone else experienced my problem. I have not been able to duplicate the problem, though the conditions that I initially experienced the trouble shifting into lower gears are not easily duplicated, perhaps not for another 90 years!! I live in the Sloan's Lake area, but I will be moving a little further outside of Denver in the summer... I just can't take Denver City Politics and Government any longer!! :7: The novelty of living near downtown has diminished... I'm beginning to feel claustrophobic.

TexAVfan, I am not familiar with the Av's transmission linkage. What I can tell you is that it shifted fine all the way down to drive and with a little force I was able to get it into 3rd. From Park to Drive it shifted without any problem. The truck ran in reverse without any problem as well, but I could not shift down into the lower gears. It was only after the Av thawed out in the garage that I was able to shift down into the lower gears again. It wasn't a fatal problem, since I was able to shift into 'drive' and the road conditions to my house had been compacted. However, it would be devastating should I ever encounter the problem again in mud or deep snow where keeping the Av in a high RMP/Torque range is vital.

I will be taking the Av into the dealer to have some minor warranty work done. When I am there I'll ask if the linkage freezing is a plausible cause. I'll keep you posted.
I live in CA and goto Lake Tahoe alot to play in the snow. CALTRANS require that all vehicles carry chains...so I went to the auto parts store to get chains. Now I wanted the chains with the actual chains links...the big beffy kind. But the guy told me that I need to get the thin wire kind because of the ABS. I don't know if this is true or not...but my roomate has a 2002 Tahoe and in his warranty he is not suppose to use the big beefy type chains also.
I've never had to put my chains on so before. Just another piece of info for ya.
s0litude said:
I have never heard about this before... Chains are not to be used?!? ?I am not necessarily refuting your statement, but I would really like additionally opinions on this. ?Anyone have an opinion on chains with the Av?
As per the 2002 Avalanche owner's manual, page 6-52:

Tire Chains

If your vehicle is a 1500 Series, don?t use tire chains. They can damage your vehicle because there?s not enough clearance. Tire chains used on a vehicle without the proper amount of clearance can cause damage to the brakes, suspension or other vehicle parts. The area damaged by the tire chains could cause you to lose control of your vehicle and you or others may be injured in a crash. Use another type of traction device only if its manufacturer recommends it for use on your vehicle and tire size combination and road conditions. Follow that manufacturer?s instructions. To help avoid damage to your vehicle, drive slowly, readjust or remove the device if it?s contacting your vehicle, and don?t spin your wheels. If you do find traction devices that will fit, install them on the rear tires.

If your vehicle is a 2500 Series, use tire chains only where legal and only when you must. Use chains that are the proper size for your tires. Install them on the tires of the rear axle. Don?t use chains on tires of the front axle. Tighten them as tightly as possible with the ends securely fastened. Drive slowly and follow the chain manufacturer?s instructions. If you can hear the chains contacting your vehicle, stop and retighten them. If the contact continues, slow down until it stops. Driving too fast or spinning the wheels with chains on will damage your vehicle.

Here's a little more discussion on it: -- SS
The manual says that chains should not be used on the 1500, only the 2500. The 1500 does not have enough clearence. However, I do believe that light duty chains will not hurt a 1500, just dont use beefy ones!