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Old 04-24-2016, 02:30 PM   #1
Dpcornell
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2003 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Dazed L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Hello all,

We just replaced the motor in our 2003 L200 5spd yesterday with a low milage one (~68K). The motor runs beautifully, better than the old one, but with one major problem: the slave cylinder burst before we could even drive it.

Before I get to my questions to you all here is some back story: our saturn had around 212k on the clock so we bought a running engine from a yard. The motor came out of an automatic 2003 L200.

Approximately two weeks ago we pulled the original motor from the vehicle and installed the new one with a new clutch disk and pressure plate, new slave cylinder, but we kept the old flywheel because it was in decent shape.

When the vehicle was back together we tried to bleed the clutch and the slave cylinder burst.


Round two: we pulled the new motor and ordered a new slave cylinder. We replaced the cylinder and before we could jump the car, my brother pumped the clutch in the vehicle and pop went the slave cylinder. I'm sure you can imagine my frustration.


TLDR Version:
We put a new motor from an automatic 2003 L200 in our 5spd 2003 L200. Motor runs but we have had two slave cylinders burst on us now.

My questions are as follows:

Could the clutch disk and pressure plate be incorrectly spaced, causing the slave cylinder to over extend?

Could there have been air in the slave cylinder (we mounted it to the transmission dry) and the pressure caused the break?

Is it worth ordering a pre-bled slave cylinder?

What is the best way to bleed the hydraulic system?

This vehicle is causing us to tear our hair out because our Saturn Aura just had the power steering go out, so we are down two vehicles now.

Any help or insight you could offer would be much appreciated.

Thank you,
Dan

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Old 04-24-2016, 04:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Ha-ha-ha! LOL! Thank you for sharing your explosive hydraulics (2X?). I feel your frustration and its possibly better than me setting fire to a rear engine car when pumping some fuel from the fuel line into the oil fill port to flush the engine. Being young and stupid, I didn't think about the fumes while using a jury rigged remote start switch on the starter to turn over the engine a few revolutions (mechanical fuel pump in those days). The car was halfway in the garage...........I think I'm a little wiser since then.

Looking over the service manual descriptions, the clutch hydraulics appears to be straight forward and easy to replace and bleed. Something went wrong so it may be wiser to try another tactic. From what I can see from drawings, can you pretest the hydraulics before installing the integrated slave unit/throwout bearing? Procedures mention holding the slave unit (compressed before applying slight pedal pressure?). With a slave unit uninstalled, no pressure plate tension is holding the throwout unit compressed and any slight pressure on the clutch pedal should act upon the slave unit (with or without air in the system) to expand the slave unit (disengaging the clutch). Even if you manually pour fresh brake fluid into the slave unit prior to testing it, very little pedal effort is required to ensure the slave does expand and contract when pedal is slowly pressed and released. This is only for pretesting the master/slave unit and not a procedure about bleeding. This should be a good pretest of hydraulics before installation onto the xmission drive shaft. Perhaps something was missed when disassembling everything for new clutch parts?

I'm not completely familiar with newer clutch hydraulics using hydraulic throwout bearings over plain mechanical bearings so there are some questions that may/may not apply here. The service manual drawings show a hydraulic throwout bearing. Does this compress when the pressure plate is bolted back on (as opposed to extended when on a bench)? Does the slave/throwout bearing have an internal spring to expand the throwout unit to full extension prior to installation? Compress when pressure plate is bolted on to the flywheel? Some hydraulic systems have an automatic shut off valve when disconnecting hoses to minimize oil loss with quick couplers similar to compressed air lines using quick couplers. This assumes the quick connects snap on while opening its internal valve for oil flow. If this system doesn't use quick connects, is the hydraulic hose a screw on type? Air in the system couldn't burst the slave unit. Air is compressible with the pedal falling to the floor easily, prior to bleeding.

Below are the basics of your clutch system (you probably already know this) and just a review. I can send service manual procedures if you private message me an email address that allows receiving files. From a quick glance at instructions, there doesn't seem to be anything special about replacing clutch parts but reviewing procedures may reveal where you deviated while comparing what you have in front of you.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 2003 Saturn L200, LW200.jpg (48.1 KB, 6 views)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Clutch System Description and Operation-1.pdf (109.3 KB, 6 views)
File Type: pdf Clutch System Description and Operation-2.pdf (91.3 KB, 3 views)

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Old 04-26-2016, 09:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

There is a very specific procedure for bleeding these "donut" slave cylinders. It involves placing a tube on the pigtail tube connection and manually pressing the slave cylinder in and out a few times to get fluid into it and the air out. This is all done before mating the trans to the engine. I am paraphrasing this. Get the proper info. You can possibly do this after everything is together by using a pressure/vacuum pump on the bleeder fitting, but this is iffy.

BTW. if you actuate the slave cylinder without the trans mated up using the clutch master cylinder then it will pop the piston out. Big mess.

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Old 05-02-2016, 02:01 PM   #4
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Saturn modified their L Series slave bleeding procedure at least once to correct problems with damaged slave cylinder seals that showed up in early production models. There may be more recent updates so you should investigate further as already suggested by Born Again. I can't vouch for the procedure excerpted below, having forgotten how I got mine working after slave replacement (years ago). I do know that I did not perform any bleeding procedures before the motor and tranny were mated back together. This is a service bulletin from July 2003 - Bulletin # 03-07-31-004


Important :When using this procedure, DO NOT bench bleed any replaced parts prior to reassembling the Clutch Hydraulic System.

1. Verify that all the lines and fittings are dry and secure.

2. Tighten the bleed screw.

Tighten

Tighten the bleed screw to 7 N.m (62 in-lbs).

3. Make sure clutch pedal is in the up position.

4. Clean dirt and grease from the reservoir cap in order to ensure that no foreign substances enter the system.

5. Remove reservoir cap.

6. Fill reservoir with hydraulic brake fluid, P/N 21013073 (in Canada, P/N 992668), to the maximum level.

Important :Brake fluid will deteriorate the rubber on J-45727. Use a clean shop cloth to wipe away the fluid after each use.

7. Install Rubber Stopper J-45727 to Vacuum Pump J-23738, or equivalent, with length of hose.

8. Place and hold stopper over top of reservoir to ensure a tight fit.

9. Operate pump to achieve 103-138 kPa (15-20 psi) vacuum on gauge.

10. Hold vacuum for approximately one minute.

11. Slowly relieve vacuum and remove stopper from reservoir.

12. Replenish fluid to proper level.

13. Repeat steps 8 through 12 until all air is removed from the system.

14. Install reservoir cap.

Important :The clutch pedal will go to the floor on the first actuation, but will become firm as the Clutch Actuator Cylinder fills on following actuations.

15. Actuate the clutch 10-12 time to fill the Clutch Actuator Cylinder and also to ensure proper operation.

Caution :The vehicle could move if started in gear and the Clutch Actuator Cylinder was not properly filled in the previous step Start the vehicle the first time in neutral to help prevent accidental vehicle movement


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Old 05-02-2016, 10:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

I searched for and found a few different procedures on the interwebs. I didn't post them because, not having used or tested them, could not comment on their efficacy. If you search under Saab or Cobalt keywords as these cars use the same or similar transmissions/clutches/slaves you can broaden the net. For a few years i carried a 3' piece of plastic tubing and an 8mm wrench with the hope I could execute an emergency bleed. I never had to do this. The plan was to place the tube on the transmission connector bleed screw and feed the other end of the tube back into the brake fluid reservoir. Open the screw a crack, pump the pedal, then close again, pump, crack the screw, pump again, etc. The idea would be to cycle the slave but allow the air an exit at the screw. This would be easier with two people, one on the pedal and one on the wrench.

I wonder how you can pull a vacuum more than 1 atmosphere (14.5 psi/100 kPa). Easy if the car is under water.

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Old 05-03-2016, 12:11 AM   #6
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Geez, thanks for the memories Born Again. I also carried around a similar "emergency slave bleed kit" for several years. My kit included fresh hydraulic fluid. I eventually bit the bullet and tackled slave cylinder replacement..... after needing the emergency kit far too often. I suspect that my 2000 LS slave seals were damaged at the factory by Saturn's original bench bleeding process.

I agree that 100 kpa seems a stretch. My MityVac guage is marked up to 100 kpa, but I've never seen it fully deflected.

After my own slave install, I definitely started with a 2 person bleeding process similar to traditional brake bleeding, where you pump the pedal, then crack open the bleeder screw to let air escape (with pedal still down), then re-tighten the bleeder screw before releasing pedal, all while feeding the hydraulic reservoir with fresh fluid.

I couldn't vouch for the vacuum bleed method posted above because I honestly don't recall if I needed to use it to get good slave pressure after the initial 2-person bleeding process. I did create a simple vacuum bleed kit, consisting of the MityVac and a rubber sink stopper (sized to seal the opening on the hydraulic reservoir) with a tiny hole drilled into it to accept a tapered hose adapter from the MityVac. However, given that GM admitted to a defective bleed procedure during initial L Series production, I remained a bit reluctant to use their "new, improved" vacuum bleed method.

Fearing that vacuum bleeding is more likely to harm to weak seals than your basic "pump pedal" method, I would personally still try 2-person pedal bleeding method first to see if it delivers the required pressure through the slave.

If someone successfully tests a more up-to-date bleeding procedure, I do hope they'll post it here.

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Old 05-03-2016, 11:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Recalling the slave cylinder replacement project, I originally delayed that job because the service manual suggested that you must drop the subframe for slave replacement, making it a bigger job than I was in the mood for. I was later told by SSICARMAN that the job could be done with the subframe still all bolted up.

For the benefit of anyone facing this job, below is a photo of the wiggle room available with the subframe in place and everything else separated. There wasn't a lot of space, but certainly enough to remove and reinstall the flywheel, clutch plate and slave cylinder.

Beware of possible damage to the AC lines when lowering the engine for this procedure. I broke a connection on my AC compressor despite removing/loosening all the fasteners securing the AC lines to the car body (didn't really intend to trade in my AC for the new slave cylinder.)
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Old 05-09-2016, 01:36 PM   #8
Dpcornell
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Thank you all so much for the responses! I apologize for my late response, I have been away and due to school/work we have not had the time to spend on the vehicle until this past weekend.

We installed a pre-filled cylinder onto the transmission and manually pumped it to remove any air before mating the engine and transmission, as Born Again suggested. We reinstalled the engine and associated parts.

However, I have a concern there is still a problem: the clutch is VERY stiff at the bottom of the pedal, more than I feel it should be. The stiffness in the clutch is the same as we felt when the cylinder burst the last two times.

Once we felt how stiff the clutch became, we immediately put a halt on our reinstallation and are continuing to do more research (we are not removing the engine a 4th time).

I see that some of you have used a power bleeder/mityvac to bleed the system. Is that something we should consider trying?

Another thought we had is that perhaps there is a problem with our master cylinder forcing fluid into the slave cylinder at too high a pressure causing it to burst. Pulling from your collective knowledge, what would the likelihood of a master cylinder problem causing a slave failure be?

Both of our failed slave cylinders occurred while performing the two man bleeding method: Open valve,press clutch, bleed, close valve, let off clutch. Everything I have read suggests we are doing this correctly, so we are scratching our heads.

I did find one thing we may try, which is bleeding the master cylinder and then reconnecting it to the system. I cannot post a link to the pdf so search "bleed concentric slave cylinder" in google. It is the first .pdf in the results.

We may try that today or tomorrow evening, I just hope the slave cylinder doesn't burst...

Thank you all again for your help!

-Dan

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Old 05-09-2016, 03:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dpcornell View Post
...... Could the clutch disk and pressure plate be incorrectly spaced, causing the slave cylinder to over extend?

Could there have been air in the slave cylinder (we mounted it to the transmission dry) and the pressure caused the break?
When the engines were switched, transferring the flywheel, new clutch and pressure plate, there may be dimensional differences between autos using torque converters and manuals with clutch/pressure plate setups. This may have set up too much clearance between the pressure plate fingers and slave unit (retracted/home position). If too much clearance exists between the pressure plate fingers and slave unit, the slave unit can over extend. This may be the reason two popped as soon as the clutch pedal was pressed, regardless whether or not air is in the system. Since air is compressible and oil isn't, some air may not make any difference as the slave unit simply over extended beyond its extended dimension.

Unfortunately, unless you know the dimensions (pressure plate fingers to engine mounting face and dimension of slave unit surface to xmission mounting face), you're probably going to separate the engine from xmission to measure these dimensions.

Last edited by fdryer; 05-09-2016 at 03:18 PM..

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Old 05-10-2016, 04:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Fdyer, from what I understand, the flywheel on the automatic is what acts as the spacer between the engine and transmission. Am I correct in my belief there is no spacer on the manual transmission?

We brought over the flywheel from the manual engine to the new motor. It fits directly on the cam shaft as it did on the old motor. We did put in a new clutch and pressure plate in. However, they are the same dimensions as the old ones.

Is there another reason the clutch could feel heavy when depressed? It is on par with our FJ Cruiser and those of you who have driven it will know it is a leg workout!

I will give the clutch a test and if it the slave cylinder blows, we will update this post in approximately 30 minutes.

Wish us luck!

**UPDATE**

We just blew the new slave cylinder. So that indeed means there is a spacing issue with the motor. Does anyone have insight into what the correct spacing is?

We are at our wits end with this vehicle.

Last edited by Dpcornell; 05-10-2016 at 04:15 PM.. Reason: Update

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Old 05-10-2016, 08:56 PM   #11
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

Its unfortunate to have repeated slave units blowing and I would have stopped on the first blowout. I am by no means a mechanical engineer or a die hard wrench head but something was missed during the change over from auto to manual on the engine side. Not being there to see the setup before the engine switch, I can only guess at dimensions being off to allow the slave unit either too much or tool little travel before blowing out.

The dimensions I'm guessing is incorrect, contributing to slave blowout, is the clearance between slave unit on the xmission side and the dimension on the engine side since the whole engine/flywheel clutch/pressure plate fingers should be touching the slave cylinder when the engine mates to the xmission. The only dimension common to slave cylinder placement on the xmission shaft and pressure plate fingers on the engine are the mating surfaces on the engine and xmission cases where they bolt together.

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Old 05-13-2016, 08:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: L200 5spd Slave Cylinder Woes

It appears that there is a mismatch somewhere in the fit up between the engine, transmission, flywheel, clutch assembly, and slave cylinder. This is allowing the slave to over-extend, resulting in the piston coming out of the cylinder. I did an engine transplant on my '2000 LS1 from an automatic to the manual. I removed the flywheel from the old engine and transferred it to the crankshaft of the new(er) one. I didn't encounter the problem you are having. I don't recall any spacers. BTW, my "new" engine is out of a 2001. Note- is is possible to reassemble a slave cylinder after it blows apart, and I did this. It lasted about 100,000 km after that.

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