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Old 08-16-2008, 11:08 AM   #1
knickia
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Default Clutch issues on 97 SL2

Symptoms:
Hard to shift into first/reverse, have to go between the gates a couple of times to get it to squeze into gear

Is "moody" and frequently i have to blip the throttle to get RPMs around 2k 2500 to shift smoothly when moving

sometimes it wants to hang up in gear (not come out of the gear it's in), particularly 1st gear.

at redlights somtimes i get a shutter and have to take it out of gear (seems to fix it)


Troubleshooting:

Sometimes i get creep with the clutch depressed, particularly in the mornings, but it's not consistent

checked the clutch fluid and topped it off, it did have a white waxxy residue in it (made the fluid cloudy looking)

clutch pedal travel is about 6 inches

I measured the hydraulic plate movement (from here: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94634 )

It measured right at 11 MM.

Question:

How must travel past 11mm should the hydraulic section have ? should a good plate move 15 MM or something ?

anything i missed ?


Just want to review the issue as i would rather not tear the tranny down
I feel good about doing the hydraulics, but not so good about internal tranny repairs
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:19 AM   #2
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1998 SL2
Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

Well those symptoms all point to the clutch not fully disengaging. You've pretty much eliminated the hydraulics. The most common cause other than the hydraulics for this problem is the pressure plate. The fingers can get worn (I've seen them broken too.) and the clutch will fail to disengage fully.

One other thing to try but, this wouldn't explain the creep. Try double-clutching. Release the clutch at neutral and depress it again between shifts. If this makes it shift smooth, you have worn synchros. However, the creep really says it's the clutch. I only point this out because I replaced a clutch only to find it was worn synchros and had to pull everything apart and replace the tranny.
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

There is waxy stuff in the system, it is some kind of lube in the slave cylinder. You might even see little chunks of the lube.
If the fluid is nasty-looking, you CAN replace it with DOT 3. Even though there is no bleeder screw.

The plate won't move 15 mm.
The fork is a lever. The slave end moves about 11 mm. The other end pivots at the ball, it moves 0.
The middle (at the T/O bearing) moves only about 5 mm. Which isn't much. But, if there are other problems that take away some of that 5 mm, such as worn fingers, worn pivot at the T/O bearing, even worn fork, you lose that much travel.
Although the slave has a spring, and is supposed to take up slop and wear of the plate, it can only take up so much.

How many miles on the present clutch? For how long have you had this problem, was it gradual or did it happen quickly?

Check all points of slop in the shifter system.

Replacing a clutch isn't that tough. Also, the Luk clutch kit is only $159 from Clutch City.

BTW the clutch pedal travel is not a variable and is not adjustable, it is what it is......
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:55 PM   #4
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Attention Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

Thanks for the replies.

i take it 11mm is the expected movement amount on the hydraulics (not a minimum).

The car has 97k on it, i just picked it up this summer. It has been a pain to get into 1st gear most of that time, the problem seems to be getting worse (or my patiences are wearing out ;p )

The shifter does seem sloppy to me, but i havent driven other s series manuals to compare (my other is an auto).

Somtimes it seems like you can "feel" it squeezing into gear ( my mental picture is that it's almost aligned and the gears are barely meshing... from an amateur).

when it's being a pain to shift i have tried pumping the clutch (marginally helpfull), running the shifter back/forth to the other gates, usually with a jiggle.

as mentioned it shifts ok when the engine is off.

Is there any way to check out the syncro's ? I assume inspector or replacement would mean an internal rebuild of the tranny ?

Any recommendation on a shop manual for clutch replacement (and diagnostics ;p ) etc ?

Is there an inspection port for the clutch plates ? or only way to tell is to remove tranny from engine ?
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

No inspection port. But you can replace the clutch with both the engine and transmission in the car. You might be suffering from worn out shifter cables.

Skip the $20.00 Haynes or Chiltons and buy a year of ALLData or Mitchels for $25.00 these are the online shop manuals. Pick the one you like.

http://www.alldatadiy.com/index.html
http://www.eautorepair.net/
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:22 PM   #6
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1997 SL
Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

The minimum fork travel (at the inspection hole) is .44 inches at 5.2 inches of pedal travel, to .52 inches at 6.2 inches of pedal travel. It's a straight line graph. [Obviously, you can't get 6.2 inches of travel when the pedal hits the floor at 5.2 inches.] Either way, that's about 1/2 inch.

Check the bushings on the shifter, one of them is prone to breakage and wear.
Check all components in the shifter and cable system. I just have a feeling that your problem is with the linkages etc.

Synchros "shouldn't" be worn at 97K miles. But the car has an unknown history. [I once sold an Olds F85, 3-speed, in town. The buyer had it a few months and complained that the clutch wore out. Turns out the daughter didn't know how to drive stick shift.]
My Saturn has spent about 96% of its life in 5th gear. Yours, who knows....
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:48 PM   #7
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Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

replacing the trans fluid with Mobil-1 synthetic ATF is not a bad idea either.
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:59 PM   #8
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Happy Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

Sounds a lot like some of the issues I was having. When I pulled the engine and transmission out for an overhaul and separated them, piles of rust came out (see photo attached). Other than cropping it to meet the file size limitations, this is NOT "Photoshopped". That's what it looked like. The stuff on the floor is rust powder, not fluid of any sort.

The clutch hub was binding on the transmission splines from all the rust. After cleaning it up and putting a new pressure plate, throwout bearing and clutch disk in (using the "spline lube" that came with the kit), it shifts beautifully now. I did put Valvoline Maxlife fluid in it, but I had put that in before, too, so the rust and binding was the culprit.

As for the shudder, if the clutch does not release fully (and it sounds like it), the engine can't find a stable idle point when in gear. You might also want to check your pre-cat (assuming you have one), which is part of the exhaust manifold. It is the thing at the upper left of the rustiest photo. Pull the O2 sensor or the down tube and look inside to see if the catalyst comb is intact. Mine wasn't. It was rattling around and sometimes could partially block the exhaust pipe passage.

Again, your symptoms sound very, very familiar to me.

Hope I helped.
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2

Thanks, wonder if there is a way to flush it out (look for the rust )

i guess that would just be a temp solution as i can't think of anything that would prevent rust without messing up the plate compound
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:19 PM   #10
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Default Re: Clutch issues on 97 SL2



Seriously, I don't know how you could do that. I suspect that mine was the result of one too many power washes or steam cleanings of the engine bay at the car lot it sat on for about a year before I bought it.

There are little inch square vent holes up toward the top of the bell housing beneath the EGR valve. They are partially hidden by the battery tray but water can obviously get in somewhere, and I think that was where it happened.

I imagine that if someone took a steam cleaner to it, it probably got very, very wet inside and of course was hot enough to soften and displace any spline lube (if any) that remained there after 113k miles.

The result was what you saw in the photos. I was shocked when I parted the housing from the engine block and trails of rust-red powder fell out.

I guess this is an argument against washing down your engine compartment...

Checking your front pre-cat is much simpler by comparison. If you drop the down pipe and probe GENTLY with a screwdriver or socket extension, you should be able to determine if your honeycomb is loose or not.
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