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Old 08-15-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Madison, WI USA
Posts: 25,715

1996 SW2
Default Re: 94 Saturn Sedan Auto Trans-won't go in gear

That's def. a broken shaft/joint. The grinding in gear is probably the broken bits of the joint crunching on each other. The grinding in Park is the Park pawl of the transmission trying to engage. As far as the powertrain is concerned, it's the equivalent of throwing it into Park while the car is moving, because the outputs of the differential are moving even though they're not propelling the car. Because of the broken shaft/joint, the car's brakes are unable to stop this from happening.

To locate the break, have an assistant attempt to "drive" the car while you observe, CAREFULLY, underneath. Have the assistant steer the front wheels to give you better visual access. Observe each axle shaft and the intermediate shaft. If you see one of the shafts turning, then the outer CV joint of that shaft is what has failed. If you see just the inner joint or inner boot on one side turning, then that inner joint has failed. If you see the intermediate shaft turning but not the right axle shaft, then it's probably the right inner joint.

You might also find that one of the shafts, particularly the passenger side, has simply broken in two right in the middle of the shaft. On the passenger side, on cars originally equipped with steel wheels, there was a balancing weight on the shaft. The shape of the weight allowed water to collect in it, causing the shaft to rust and fail right where the weight was mounted.

At the end of the test, to avoid the grinding/clattering when you shift into Park - DON'T shift into Park right away. Shift to neutral and watch the speedometer. When the speedometer drops to zero, THEN shift to Park. That will be better for the transmission; that will avoid the effect of shifting into Park while the differential output is turning. If the speedometer doesn't drop all the way to zero after shifting to neutral and waiting several seconds, just shut off the engine while in neutral. You'll be able to detect that everything has stopped moving; then it will be safe to shift into Park.


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