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Old 10-01-2003, 04:54 AM   #1
Heartbeat - '95 SL2
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1995 SL2
Default Clutch fluid level, clutch pedal vibration, small leak

First off, hello again -- it's been ages since I've posted -- I still surf here to read, but not as much as I'd like. Good to see the same ol' crowd!

Visually, what level should the clutch fluid be (e.g. 1/3, 1/2, etc)? The book says 10-12mm/0.27-0.35 inches from the top, but I recall long ago that when I filled up that high, and replaced the cap, it spilled over. Heck, even taking the cap off, I managed to spray a bit down in the impossible-to-wipe-up location. As it's corrosive, I just sprayed it down with some water later. But I digress . . . my fluid is at ~ 1/3 full, and I was wondering if I should add any.

I'm *not* experiencing any shifting problems, but I am a bit alarmed that every now and then I feel a vibration as I start to push down on the clutch -- alarmed because the thread mentioned a bad throwout bearing? The vibration seems to come and go, ie when it does it, it seems to do it a lot in the same trip, then it goes away.

Should I add a bit of fluid or will I spill it all over? Think the vibration is serious, or wait-n-see?

Thanks!

PS for the record, I'm at 119k miles with no clutch or tranny work yet. Also, I have a small leak of something around the coil packs -- would that be tranny fluid from where the engine and tranny meet? Pretty minor -- about 1/2 pint down after 30k miles.

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Old 10-02-2003, 12:32 AM   #2
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Hey long time no see. Hopefully the battle is going well.

Best level for the cap would be just low enough so that you don't get any spill over. Book is a good guide line but common sense can work better.
The vibration that you are feeling could be the release bearing starting to go or the pressure plate fingers. At this point it really doesn't matter beacause short of pulling the trans away from the engine to check things out there is little to be done. This is one of those things that will let you know when it needs to have money spent on it. Until then keep enjoying the car.

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Old 10-02-2003, 12:38 AM   #3
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You do know that the fluid expansion bellows in the clutch mastercylinder cover can be collapsed back into the cover right? When shipped NEW the bellows actually IS collapsed or "folded" into the cover and drops down when the clutch pedal is depressed the first time and the slave fully extends to raise the level in the fluid resevoir. If you "refold" the bellow into the cover, you can safely top the fluid up to within 3/8 inch of the top edge or so with no fear of overflow. This actually SHOULD be done prior to pulling the slave out of the transaxle for any needed clutch work or transaxle replacement to prevent the entry of air into the hydraulic system by the slave hyperextending...

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Old 10-03-2003, 05:50 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies . . . my internet access has been down lately, so I'm replying at work, during my lunch break of course. Wolfman, I know in my old Mustang with manual brakes, the bellows was folded in, and expanded in case of a fluid drop, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Saturn's was suppose to be extended -- I think that was either in the owners manual or the Chilton guide. Why's that?

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Old 10-04-2003, 03:47 AM   #5
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When the unit is NEW, (at the factory or as a replacement) it is a prefilled and bled assembly that has the clutch slave cylnder rod strapped fully depressed by a plastic shipping strap, and the master cylinder resevoir FULL to within a 1/4 inch or so of the top with the bellows folded (or depressed) When the assembly is installed and the clutch pedal depressed for the first time, the strap holding the slave piston breaks, the slave's piston fully extends and the actuation rod seats on the clutch fork. When this occurs, the fluid level in the master cylinder DROPS about 1/2~3/4 inch or so, and the bellows extends to raise the level of fluid to a point where "normal" driving of the car won't allow air to get into the system at the master during clutch pedal depression. As anyone who's ever pulled a slave out of a bell housing, without topping up the resevoir first can attest, you'll hear a giant sucking sound as the slave piston hyper extends, sucking the master dry, and drawing air into the system.

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Old 10-06-2003, 06:23 PM   #6
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Wolfman, your description of the assembly is worthy of an entry into a repair manual -- very helpful, thanks! Giant sucking sound . . . maybe Ross Perot has taken a slave cylinder off a bell housing, LOL.

I guess everyone missed my P.S. about a small leak I have showing up near the ignition coil packs. Would that be a leak of transmission fluid where the trans meets the engine?

Thanks for the help

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Old 10-07-2003, 12:39 AM   #7
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You might try tracking the leak with a little foot powder. Sometimes it's hard (I know from previous experience) to figure out where it's dripping from. Also, it's a little harder to identify fluid after it has run off the bell housing, as it has collected dirt along the way.

I had a rear main seal that didn't seat correctly in addition to a little tranny fluid dripping in the exact location you're seeing it. If you can isolate it with the powder, it should give you a better idea of what's going on (and what it is!).

With your mileage, you might even consider replacing the clutch and release bearing, while poking around to take a look inside. You can also change out those seals and reapply your RTV and Loctite all at the same time. Then you're good to go another 120k!

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Old 10-08-2003, 06:17 AM   #8
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SLeepr, somewhat glad to hear someone else has had a similar leak -- I figure it's tranny fluid, as I've lost 1/2 pint over 30k miles, a slight seeping of the fluid. However, I have no idea what you mean by using powder to isolate a leak. It's pretty obvious it's coming from the engine/tranny seam near the coil packs, as that's the only place I see a small area of gunky buildup. So the white foot powder allows you to see what color the fluid is?

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Old 10-08-2003, 07:43 PM   #9
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It might help a bit to determine the type of fluid but more or less to isolate its true origin. I thought for sure that the actual leak I was seeing was coming from a specific area. But, the leak actually travelled and collected in the spot that I suspected and originated somwhere else.

If you're sure it's that spot on the casing, where the tranny and motor split, it's possible that some of the sealant has worn away.

Either way, it sounds like it's time to crack that baby open to replace the clutch/TO bearing anyway.

As a wise man once said, "If your Saturn ain't leaking, it's out of fluid."

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Old 10-08-2003, 11:33 PM   #10
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Two types of fluid that you can get from that area. Engine oil or trans fluid. If you are loosing fluid from the trans then it is likely from the quill seal--input shaft support bearing seal. This unfortunately involves removing and diassembling the trans to replace it. This is usually pricey. If the fluid is engine oil then the culprit would likely be the rear main seal, which would involve pulling the trans back but not disassembling it. I would have to lean to the quill seal as you are loosing trans fluid and you are getting oil at the coil pack area. The hold down bolts for the coil packs go into the inside of the bell housing so given enough oil leaking from the quill it will splash/fly around in there and start coming out where it can. If you look under the car at the bottom of the bell housing you will likely find a good bit of fluid coming out there as well.

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Old 10-10-2003, 06:35 PM   #11
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Thanks again for the replies. Well, the bottom of the bell housing has had a smidgin' of trans fluid leaking, a lot longer than near the coil packs (we're talking years). However, if it is the expensive quill seal that needs replacing, I guess I'll keep driving it until I really need to open the transmission for something. 1/2 pint in 30k miles doesn't seem like a lot -- doesn't even leak anything on the ground. Since the car is not worth much, I'll just have to wait until something major happens and see if it's time to fix it or get another . . . this car has been so good, nothing more major than a window regulator and EGR valve (and of course oil consumption). But hey, it keeps going and going.

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