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mistahsnowman 11-30-2020 02:27 PM

02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Hi all--

I have a 2002 SC2 5-speed with ~72k miles on it. Over the past few months, the reverse lights have been coming on less and less frequently (while in reverse). I suspected the reverse switch might have been going bad (had a similar problem with my Ford Ranger a couple years back).

I found where the switch lives on top of the tranny, pulled it, and jumped the wires. When jumped, the reverse lights reliably come on and stay on. So this should pinpoint the switch as the problem.

I bought a new switch and put it in yesterday. No change. Reverse lights don't always come on. This makes me wonder if the shift linkage for reverse needs to be adjusted. Is this possible? The car shifts beautifully otherwise.

Any other ideas I'm missing? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Waiex191 11-30-2020 02:43 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I've been down that same path. There is not really any adjustment in the shift linkage. My thought was wear in the shift tower on the transmission. I swapped to another junkyard part but still no luck.

mattwithcats 11-30-2020 02:55 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Pull the fuse in the fusebox, clean the prongs, reinsert.

Also, clean the grounds in the trunk..

Chasing the same thing myself...

billr 11-30-2020 03:41 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
[I][B]"My thought was wear in the shift tower on the transmission. I swapped to another junkyard part but still no luck.
..."[/B][/I]

That make sense to me. Be brave and trim off the underside of the hex "head" on the switch, so it can seat a bit deeper in the tower. Ideally, an old sensor should be cut open so we can see how much can be trimmed, but just .010-.020" should make it operational again and probably there is at least that much extra material there. Just don't tighten the switch into the trans fiercely, not much more than finger-tight should be sufficient.

I f anybody wants to give this a try, but can't trim the switch, I'll do it free. Send PM (and then a switch).

Waiex191 11-30-2020 05:30 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
[QUOTE=billr;2354362]Be brave and trim off the underside of the hex "head" on the switch, so it can seat a bit deeper in the tower. [/QUOTE]
I had the same thought. Chuck it up in the lathe and turn it down a bit. I do have access to a lathe, I'll give it a try one of these days.

mattwithcats 11-30-2020 06:17 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
My switch is working fine, problem is in the fuse box...

Power goes to fuse box, through fuse, then to switch, then back to fusebox, then to reverse lights...

When power goes back to fuse box, it disappears...

I bet this is similar to the F5 issue, too much current is being drawn by the backup lights...

Waiex191 11-30-2020 06:29 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
My fuses are good. Just like the OP, if I short the two wires together at the switch my lights come on.

mistahsnowman 12-01-2020 01:24 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Thanks for all the replies. I imagine you guys suggesting shift tower wear are correct. That makes the most sense to me. I'll have to see if I can pull some metal off the switch and see if that fixes the problem.

billr 12-01-2020 01:04 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
How does that switch seal to the trans case, is there a flat gasket/washer on the underside of the hex? If so, I would take that gasket out and re-install the switch using just RTV sealant on the threads.

mistahsnowman 12-01-2020 02:26 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
1 Attachment(s)
billr - that thought crossed my mind too, but there is no gasket, washer, nothing. The switch butts directly onto the transmission. I've attached a picture of the switch for reference.

Waiex191 12-01-2020 03:23 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
My Saturn is parked and I'm trying to focus on other projects. Still it would be fun to chuck up my spare switch in the lathe and turn it down.

billr 12-01-2020 03:33 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Yeah, I figured that "remove the gasket" bit was too obvious a fix for somebody not to have already tried; but wanted to be sure. I was wrong about Waiex191 being on the "east coast" too...

Waiex191, any chance you can bump-up the priority on trying a trimmed switch? The OP and I are eager to find out if that works.

Waiex191 12-01-2020 04:42 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
[QUOTE=billr;2354395]
Waiex191, any chance you can bump-up the priority on trying a trimmed switch? The OP and I are eager to find out if that works.[/QUOTE]

I am really trying to finish the airplane and I've taken the insurance off my SC2, since I'm working from home. So probably not, but if I need to run to the EAA hangar to use the lathe I'll bring the switch.

I was from the East coast but escaped in 2005. I don't miss Connecticut but I do miss New Hampshire and Vermont. Used to ski a lot.

billr 12-01-2020 05:34 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
OK, I understand. I think the OP will probably send a switch to me. For some reason, I was thinking you are in MA, close enough to the OP (in NH) that shipping charges could be avoided.

Signmaster 12-02-2020 09:20 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I went through this with my '95. The original lasted 23 years, the replacement lasted less than a year.

I didn't troubleshoot the original, and the replacement worked. When it failed I would get just a flash of light and then it would go out. Suspecting tranny seating issues like others here, I took the switch out to confirm. Regardless of how little or how much I pressed the ball down, just a flash. Jumping the wires showed full power to the lights.

Crap switches. Replaced it and the second new one is working for now.

YMMV, but rather than trim the switch just take it out to check it.

mattwithcats 12-02-2020 01:40 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Rock Auto

AC Delco D2209C

[url]https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/saturn,2002,sc+coupe,1.9l+l4+dohc,1388516,electrical-switch+&+relay,back+up+lamp+switch,4240[/url]

Waiex191 12-02-2020 02:50 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I bought the Standard Motor Products switch and no joy. Signmaster's idea of crap switches has a lot of merit. I should have grabbed on at the junkyard.

billr 12-02-2020 04:57 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
My [I]guess[/I] is that the root problem is a bad design, not defective switches. It looks to me like the switches have little over-travel, so there is very little tolerance for wear of the switch plunger tip or whatever it contacts in the trans. If the trans part wears, even a "perfect" (zero deviation from print) switch may not work.

If I get one to trim, I will carefully measure the plunger travel needed for operation, over-travel available, and hysteresis to reset.

Signmaster 12-02-2020 08:13 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
[QUOTE=billr;2354423]My [I]guess[/I] is that the root problem is a bad design, not defective switches. It looks to me like the switches have little over-travel, so there is very little tolerance for wear of the switch plunger tip or whatever it contacts in the trans. If the trans part wears, even a "perfect" (zero deviation from print) switch may not work.

If I get one to trim, I will carefully measure the plunger travel needed for operation, over-travel available, and hysteresis to reset.[/QUOTE]

If I have it labeled correctly, the stocker might have been saved by trimming and seemed to be based on a wear issue. But with the housing being metal and it being a cheap part, I just replaced it.

I chucked the quick to fail switch, and the replacement that worked was a BWD part from Advance Auto.

Waiex191 12-05-2020 02:08 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I needed to use the lathe today, and was going to take the switch over. I had the original in the center console. Before I did anything, I checked the switch - I only got continuity once. That was with the ball jammed way down to the limit of its travel. So I chucked it in the trash and decided it was the switch. Likely my new one is NG also.

billr 12-05-2020 01:35 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Can you retrieve the old one and cut it open, so we can get a better handle on how it is designed and how much could be trimmed off?

mistahsnowman 12-07-2020 07:15 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I checked both the old and new switches on the car today. Both reliably gave continuity, but only with the ball pressed pretty much as far as it would travel. I double-checked them on the vehicle and they did turn the reverse lights on (and remained on), but again only with the ball pressed to the limit of its travel. Seems like the issue here is definitely wear in the transmission, not my switch going bad.

So much for a 10-minute job haha.

billr 02-12-2021 11:11 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
The OP is getting ready to send me the switches to trim down, try to get more reliable operation. Does anybody have good photos of the inside of the shift tower? I would like to see what the mechanism is that actually presses on the switch plunger.

Waiex191 02-13-2021 01:46 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
[url]http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2272399&postcount=70[/url]

[url]http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230898&page=9[/url]

If I have time I'll get a picture from my spare transmission tomorrow.

billr 02-13-2021 01:42 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Yes, if you can get a picture or two of what actuates the switch plunger it will help me help the OP; come up with a reliable "fix" for this issue. Thanks.

Waiex191 02-14-2021 01:21 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
So it is all in the shift tower. Here is video 1:
[url]https://youtu.be/gVPggnt4udk[/url]

And here is video 2.
[url]https://youtu.be/GCUy7JRNQXI[/url]

fetchitfido 02-14-2021 10:16 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Well, that's an easy enough fix. Just tear down the tower, put a couple weld beads on the shifter arm and put it back together. Simple, just like those 30yr old 1000pc puzzles from an estate sale :dazed:

Wonder if there's a easy/simple way to get the switch to sit lower/push further into the transmission? Even if you took off a bit too much on the tower surface you could use washers to move it back out.

Waiex191 02-14-2021 10:50 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
[QUOTE=fetchitfido;2357001]
Wonder if there's a easy/simple way to get the switch to sit lower/push further into the transmission? Even if you took off a bit too much on the tower surface you could use washers to move it back out.[/QUOTE]
A milling machine would make short work of it. Otherwise maybe chuck up an end mill in a drill press.

I could not see any wear on the part that pushes the switch. I didn't have the best visibility through the hole.

billr 02-14-2021 03:13 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Thanks, that is exactly what I was wanting to see. I/we will keep you advised if I can come up with an easy mod to the switch to make it more reliable.

billr 03-07-2021 12:10 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
It is time to revive/update this thread:

The OP sent me two switches, one used and one new. I have set the old one up with a dial-indicator to check operating points and have some preliminary results. Total travel is .100", trip point is .040", and reset point is .045"

You read that right (and no typo), the hysteresis seems to be [I]negative[/I]!

Obviously, I need to thoroughly check my setup and procedure tomorrow, with fresh eyes; and check the new switch. Stay tuned...

billr 03-07-2021 07:30 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
Well, I did more testing today on both switches.

The total travel is the same on both, .115" This is travel of the ball/plunger from its free position until it is flush with the end face of the male thread. the old one will go in further than that face only slightly (.010"?), but the new one will go in quite a ways (.060"?). I thing that "extra" travel is irrelevant, though, because I don't think the cam in the trans can poke the ball in past the end of the male thread on the switch.

Both switches are .415" from the face under the hex that tightens against the trans case to the tip of the ball at free position.

Both switches have a very narrow hysteresis/dead-band between on/off. It seems to be only a few thousandths (<.005") for both.

The big difference is in where that off/on trip point is. For the old switch it is .050", but for the new switch it is .095" That .095" is so close to the max travel available (.115") that I feel the new switch is unusable! Frankly, I think the switch design is marginal, a short travel like that is too finicky for an application like this, but at least the old switch with trip at mid-travel has a chance.

There is no noticeable tactile or audible actuation of either switch. I'm thinking they are reeds with a magnet to actuate. Again, too dainty for an app like this.

Questions for the OP:
I would like to take one apart to see how they are constructed. Do the new one which is poor anyway?

If I can't sacrifice one, then I can mill a tiny window in one to get an idea how much can be trimmed off under the hex. I don't think that window will affect operation of the switch, and if it ruins the "water seal" of the switch, I think that can be restored well enough with a dab of RTV or JB Weld. Go for it? Which one?

Suggestions from anybody else?

Signmaster 03-07-2021 07:45 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
With a design like that, it's a wonder they worked at all. I thought there was more travel than that. It sounds like the new switch is more or less done out of the box.

billr 03-11-2021 10:40 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I got the OP's permission to cut the new one open. It is a pretty crude design!

That end surface that I could trim is .160" thick, so I think I could take .080" off the old one and it could still be tightened properly. Of course, that is assuming the old one is constructed nearly the same...

Does anybody care about seeing the innards of this beast? I am poor at taking/resizing/uploading pictures, it is a fairly tedious process for me, but I will do if anybody wants.

Waiex191 03-12-2021 09:46 AM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I'm always interested to see pictures. What platforms do you use? Windows, apple, desktop, phone? Maybe this is a great time to get help from one of your forum mates and learn a new skill.

billr 03-12-2021 12:00 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I use Win8 with Chrome. I take pix with a camera, then transfer by moving the SD card to laptop. After that I bring it into Win Paint to re-size and get small enough to post. I can [I]do[/I] it, but not as simple as I would like... Will do later today.

My plan is to trim .060" off and return all to OP, but I would like to hear from OP again to see if he agrees.

Waiex191 03-12-2021 12:30 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
billr,
My favorite is irfanview. You can get it for free here:
[url]https://www.irfanview.com/[/url]

They have a resize thing, basically hit ctrl-R and you can can basically keep halving it in size until you are happy. Or you can type in the size you want.

It is super easy to use and also works great for looking at pictures on your PC.

billr 03-12-2021 04:54 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I downloaded and used that program for the attached picture. It doesn't seem to be much different (or easier to use) than Paint, but I will give it a few more tries.

The ball pushes on that brass assembly, the assembly being two rivets that telescope inward compressing the little spring. This assembly provides the over-travel for the switch.

The brass pushes on the blue rubber disk, the disk acting as an electrical insulator and a seal to keep trans fluid from getting into the contact area.

The blue disk pushes on that (aluminum) cup and forces it against the big spring until the cup touches the two contacts that are merely the inboard end of the connector sockets.

It is no wonder that there is little-to-no hysteresis. As to why the trip point is so far in, I can only guess. The big bore in the metal housing looks to be drilled, not the most accurate way to control depth. And the brass "rivet" assembly may have loose tolerance. I would expect the molded connector housing, ball, cup thickeness, and rubber disk thickness to be quite accurate. Or, maybe the aftermarket vendor for this part just copied it poorly!

Waiex191 03-12-2021 04:58 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I wonder if there is a better limit switch that could be adapted to the shift tower.

I didn't see any attachment in the prior post.

billr 03-12-2021 06:59 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
1 Attachment(s)
One of my failings is that by the time I type a reply, I have forgotten to attach what I am describing!

mistahsnowman 04-06-2021 12:15 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I got the trimmed switch back from Billr yesterday in the mail and put it back in the SC2 this morning. It seems to work well - no flickering. Every time I put the car in reverse, the light comes on steady and consistently. So I'm going to call it a success.

Thanks again to everybody for all your help/suggestions and thanks especially to Billr for volunteering all his time and effort in studying the innards of the switch so we could discover a solution.

Hopefully this thread will help anybody else currently with this issue or anybody who runs into it in the future!

Dans sl2 04-08-2021 09:33 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
I was having the same issue. When I installed a new clutch I took a flat file to the switch mating surface on the shift tower. I couldn't tell you how much material I removed but I kept filing till the switch would come on reliably and repeatably. That was my cheap fix and it was fairly easy since I already had the shift tower off. I have also thought of machining a switch but don't have access to a lathe. I would have to pay a local machine shop to do it for me. I was going to have them take off .050" and then shim back up if I needed to. Billr how much did you remove from the switch you machined for Mistahsnowman?

billr 04-08-2021 09:57 PM

Re: 02 SC2 Intermittent reverse lights
 
It was .060-.065" The ones I cut were made from "screw-machine" stock, [I]very[/I] easy to machine.


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