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Stall Testing

The purpose of a transmission stall test is to

establish whether the torque converter,
transmission, or engine is the malfunctioning
component when a complaint of poor
performance is made by the vehicle operator.
Prior to conducting a stall test, carefully read
over the particular manufacturer's
specifications relating to the specific
transmission model so that the test is carried
out properly.
The following sequence involved for stall
testing an automatic transmission is therefore
very general, but follows the typical sequence
of events necessary to determine the problem.
Always check that the engine is capable of
attaining its maximum no-load governed speed
before stall testing.

Stall Testing Procedure

1. Bring the transmission up to operating temperature of 160-220 F 70-104 C), and with the
vehicle parked on level ground, gently shift through all range selections and back to neutral.
Leave the engine running at an idle and check the transmission oil level.
2. Check that all coolant and oil levels on the engine are correct.
3. If signs of excessive transmission fluid leakage are
evident either correct the problem prior to stall
testing, or take extreme care that the transmission is
not damaged during a stall test because of oil
4. Attach the necessary temperature and pressure
gauges to the transmission check points. When stall
testing an electronically controlled transmission temp and
sometimes pressure can be read from a pro link or other
EST. Checking the main pressure will help to determine
the condition of the hydraulic pump. I some transmission
models it is possible to check apply pressure for each
clutch this can also be very helpful when diagnosing a
transmission problem. Engine speed is essential so
attach an accurate engine tachometer if RPM is not
available by using an EST.
5. Typical readings that would be taken and recorded
during a stall test would be:
A. Maximum engine rpm before stall
B. Transmission oil pressure (main-pressure)
6. Caution: Since the condition that is being simulated
during a stall test is one where the pump is turning
at its maximum speed with the turbine held or
stalled, excessive or maximum torque (vortex flow) is occurring within the torque converter
during this time. Therefore to prevent the vehicle from breaking loose and causing
equipment or personal injury, the vehicle MUST BE positively prevented from moving.
Ensure that no one stands in front or behind the vehicle during the stall test.
7. It should not be necessary to maintain a stall test for longer than 5 seconds just long
enough for the engine RPM to stabilize. However oil temperature can rise rapidly during the stall
test so NEVER maintain a stalled condition longer than 30 seconds. Oil temperature will usually
climb 1 degree F per second during such a test. Maximum transmission sump temperatures
should not exceed 250degrees F (121 C), and the maximum oil temperature to the cooler
should not exceed 300 degrees F(149 C) during a stall test.

8. To reduce the oil temperature after stall testing, shift into neutral, run the engine at 1200-
1500 rpm for several minutes. This should also be done if an additional stall test is to be

9. The gear selection for stall testing will vary between transmissions; therefore make sure
you select the correct range as specified in the technical service manual by the manufacturer.
CAUTION. Attempting to stall test certain transmissions in first gear or reverse can damage the
transmission or drive line because of the extremely high torque produced in these low ranges.
Some fully automatic transmissions can be placed in any forward range for this test; however,
consult either the manual, or the local dealer/distributor.

10. With the vehicles brakes applied, select the correct transmission range and accelerate to
maximum throttle
position. When the
engine speed reaches
a maximum and
doesn't climb any
higher, note what rpm
is on the tachometer
as well as the oil
pressure on the
gauge. Remove your
foot from the throttle
and shift into neutral.
Repeat Step 8 if
Compare the stall
speed with that of the
transmission or vehicle
manufacturer as being
normal for your
conditions. Bear in
mind that engine
power will decrease
with an increase in
altitude; therefore a
lower engine speed
will result under the
stall test.
11. Generally the stated stall speed allows a plus or minus of 150 rpm in most instances. For
example, if the stall speed is given as 1750 rpm plus or minus 150 rpm, then as long as you
come within this particular range during stall testing, everything is correct. However if the
engine speed is too high or too low, then a problem exists. Below are some of the typical
causes of too high or too low a stall speed.

High Stall Speed (150 RPM or more higher than spec)
1. Low oil level (should always be checked prior to stall testing)
2. Low clutch pressure (check oil pressure at the range clutch check point if provided).
3. Slipping forward clutch (since a stall test is done in the forward range on most
transmissions, possibly this particular clutch alone is slipping. Since the turbine within the
torque converter is connected to this, creeping of the turbine will reduce vortex flow slightly (less
torque); therefore the engine is capable of attaining a higher speed due to this slippage).
4. Slipping range clutch (depending on what range gear selection is engaged during the stall
test), it is possible that this particular clutch is slipping.
Clutches will slip due to low oil pressure, seized or lazy pistons, broken seals and or something
wrong in the clutch apply circuit.

Low Stall Speed (200 RPM or
more lower than spec)
1. Engine in need of a
tune-up, or possibly not
obtaining full throttle travel
(check linkage etc.).
2. Internal damage within
the torque converter, namely a
freewheeling stator, (overhaul
or replace converter).
If the stall speed is correct, but
the operator/driver complains
of slippage in one gear range
only while the vehicle is on the
road, then the problem is in
that particular range clutch or
band. This will not show up
under a stall test because the
vehicle is stationary.

One problem that may be hard
to detect during a stall test
would be a seized stator
however it will show up when
performing the cool down
phase. After normally stall
testing the converter the fluid temperature will increase. When you switch to neutral to cool the
fluid down the stuck stator will cause enough turbulence that the fluid will remain at a high
temperature or even increase. This condition can also be checked on a road test, i.e. the vehicle
will accelerate normally but will seem sluggish during cruising operation.