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Old 09-17-2011, 01:22 PM   #1
hamstersbane
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Default Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

I'm not a complete novice, but much of the inner workings of the transmission are alien to me (aside from knowledge gained from reading). My problem right now has me dumbfounded. I'm about 84% sure it's the hydraulics, but not absolutely certain.

(And yes, I've checked BarnOwl's "Clutch Hydraulics Diagnosis" thread, which has lead me to some of my questions).

The car is a 1998 SL2, completely stock, about 167K miles on it. It started with the car being hard to get into first. It deteriorated slowly, and now I can't get it into gear at all with the car running. There was pretty much no resistance to the pedal at all.

Was out looking at it this morning. Don't see any fluid leaking from the slave. Noticed that the clutch does work a little bit when pumped several times, and then stops again. I can see the master wobbling a little bit when the clutch is being pumped.

I was nearly sure it was hydraulics after that, but one thing about BarnOwl's post that made me pause was the thing about it creeping. With the car in 1st and the clutch in, if you try to start it, it'll jump forward.

Is there something else I should be looking at?
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

What's the status of the pressure plate, etc.

When my clutch went out, it got to the point where I could put my foot on the gas and I could move the car through all of the gears and the car would barely move until it wouldn't move at all. My clutch was fried, and it was the original.

Is it the original clutch that is the car?

Is there a metallic smell at all?

What is the status of the shifter cables at the transmission?
...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:33 PM   #3
hamstersbane
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Pressure plate, et al? Not a clue. I don't exactly have the time/tools/know-how to pull the transmission to inspect the clutch.

It is the original clutch, tranny, engine. No burning smell that I've noticed.

There doesn't seem to be any slippage. When the car's in gear, it moves just fine. The problem's been getting into gear.

What do you mean by status of the shifter cables?
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Old 09-17-2011, 02:49 PM   #4
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

There is a possibility the hydraulics are worn out, what did you measure for the wire test?
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Old 09-17-2011, 03:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Where is the clutch pedal engaging the clutch? Close to the floor normally indicates a hydraulic problem and close to the top of the pedal travel normally indicates a clutch mechanical problem.
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Couldn't get the wire test to work correctly. It would slip around on something like whatever it was touching was bent or curved.

When it did work, it was toward the bottom of the pedal action. Now, it won't engage at all.
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:23 PM   #7
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1998 SC2
Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Probably need to take the slave out and have a look. To remove the slave you remove the 2 nuts that hold the pulsation damper to the bell housing, remove pulsation damper from studs. Turn slave counter clockwise until unlatched, about 1/3 turn. Do not let it spring back! Slowly let it come back towards you and be ready to get a hold of the operating rod as soon as you can, do not let it fallout, and it will very easily. Retrieval is not fun or quick. Once out maintain the slave and pulsation damper both below the level of the master cylinder.

The plastic tip must remain on the operating rod end. look in the mounting hole and verify that the throwout bearing fork is in place. Look through this thread for pictures of what you will be dealing with. The clutch and slave info is towards the end of the thread. Good pictures and other must have info. http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=170045

To check the condition of your system tie or block up your clutch pedal. Remove the cap on the master cylinder so you can see in it and then press the end of the operating rod slowly against the frame and watch the master cylinder level for bubbles. If you get it fully depressed and do not see any bubbles there is no appreciable air in the hydraulics. Very slowly allow the operating rod return to full out. You need to get a true wire test reading so while the slave is out you can probe the test hole with a stiff wire and find out why you were having difficulty. No air and a good wire test is a worn out clutch. But usually it is the hydraulics that fail. There are some re-installation tricks that are covered in the other thread.
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

If it is hydraulics, which it most likely is, the most likely culprit is the reservoir check valve. To begin with it is sprung with a very weak spring.

I have had trouble even with new hydraulics right out of the box. It has never gotten so bad that I cannot select gears at all, but has been pretty bad.

My partial solution, which has helped, was to increase the reservoir valve spring from 1/4 lb pressure when compressed to 1/2 height to 2 lbs pressure when compressed to the same height. To do this I used a spring whose diameter was the same, but whose wire gauge was thicker. I increased the spring to 1 lb with fair success. I then increased it to 2 lb, and results were poorer initially, but I figured I had air in the system, so I bled it and it improved. I feel that I might still have a bit of air in the system. At any rate, shifting is only difficult in cooler weather when I first start the car. Within a few moments it improves.

You can change the spring by removing the master piston from its cylinder. You must first pry loose the seal retaining ring and then lift away the seal. Carefully remove the stainless steel piston retaining ring with a razor blade. Do not distort it. It must remain perfectly flat. If it becomes distorted, it will prevent the piston from traveling to its fully released position, which will fail to release the reservoir check valve, which will cause a vacuum to develop in the hydraulic lines. Improper clutch release will occur.

At all times keep master cylinder open end pointed up.

Very carefully and gently pry the check valve stem retainer clips away so that it pops free (they are plastic, and break easily...be very careful). Obtain a spring of the same diameter as the original, but of thicker wire. Cut to size. Be sure that it does not bind in any way, and that the check valve is pulled back when the piston is pushed back by the main piston return spring.

Fill master cylinder through open end to brim with Dot 3 brake fluid. Reinstall piston and then retainer ring. Ring might need to be spiraled into place, but this can distort it. Sometimes you can just gently work it flat down into the lock groove. Work it in so that it reduces in diameter by coiling around. Once snapped in place, replace seal. Do not glue seal retainer in place yet. Turn master cylinder level with reservoir facing up (do not at any time turn reservoir down). Fill to brim with brake fluid. Close up and reinstall master cylinder assembly. Test operation.
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Old 09-17-2011, 09:48 PM   #9
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1996 SW2
Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

So you couldn't get the wire to move appreciably with the pedal? That def. hints at hydraulics. Don't expect to see fluid when the hydros fail; they can fail much the way a brake master cylinder fails - internally. Either the the master or the slave piston seal no longer seals against its cylinder wall, and when you push the master piston, fluid goes past that seal rather than ultimately pushing the slave rod. But no fluid leaks externally.

The movement of the master is a bit of a concern, though. Do you see any damage to the firewall? Is the master cylinder loose on the firewall (can you move it with your hand)?
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:21 AM   #10
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
So you couldn't get the wire to move appreciably with the pedal? That def. hints at hydraulics. Don't expect to see fluid when the hydros fail; they can fail much the way a brake master cylinder fails - internally. Either the the master or the slave piston seal no longer seals against its cylinder wall, and when you push the master piston, fluid goes past that seal rather than ultimately pushing the slave rod. But no fluid leaks externally.

The movement of the master is a bit of a concern, though. Do you see any damage to the firewall? Is the master cylinder loose on the firewall (can you move it with your hand)?
If the master piston's seal were to leak, you would likely see fluid inside of the car. If the slave cylinder's seal were to leak, you would likely find fluid inside of the boot, or inside of the clutch. In either case the reservoir fluid level would be low.

The likely culprit is the reservoir check valve. When this fails, fluid goes back into the reservoir instead of into the lines. It is held open when the piston is at rest, but the moment the piston is pushed forward about 1/16 of an inch, the check valve is allowed to close by its own spring pressure, which, at 1/2 compression, is 1/4 lb force. Kind of weak.

Though you could also have air in the lines. Not likely, but possible.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:15 AM   #11
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamstersbane View Post
Pressure plate, et al? Not a clue. I don't exactly have the time/tools/know-how to pull the transmission to inspect the clutch.

It is the original clutch, tranny, engine. No burning smell that I've noticed.

There doesn't seem to be any slippage. When the car's in gear, it moves just fine. The problem's been getting into gear.

What do you mean by status of the shifter cables?
I was mentioning the status of the shifter cables where they hook up to the transmission. They sound like they are still connected....just a thought to check them. I would check all of the internal things that everyone has suggested, thus far.
...
Bryan

94SL2 HCE, "Pearl"

99 SL

94SL2 260K Miles
1/15

97SW2 266K Miles
2/15

Always
94SC1 340,501 Miles
Org. Engine/Auto Trans
2/97-10/08
Gone 3/12

92SL1
05VUE
91SC
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:23 PM   #12
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Today I replaced the hydraulics on my wife's 1998 SL2 using a Dorman brand unit from Rockauto. It looks like the OEM one, says made in the USA on it and functions like new.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Hopefully it will shift well when cold, too.

I have been told by others on here that many have had good success with the Doorman unit. The unit that NAPA and AutoZone sell is also made in the U.S.A. It has AP stamped on it. Not sure what company that is. Both units I received had cold shifting issues. I returned the NAPA unit and stuck with the AutoZone unit which I have increased the reservoir valve spring tension in. This has improved operation. Perhaps I should just go with the Doorman unit. It would be interesting to see if its internals are any different than the unit I currently own (such as master piston diameter and displacement).
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:14 AM   #14
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Default Re: Clutch? Slave? Don't know? (1998 SL2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by td1238 View Post
Hopefully it will shift well when cold, too.

I have been told by others on here that many have had good success with the Doorman unit. The unit that NAPA and AutoZone sell is also made in the U.S.A. It has AP stamped on it. Not sure what company that is. Both units I received had cold shifting issues. I returned the NAPA unit and stuck with the AutoZone unit which I have increased the reservoir valve spring tension in. This has improved operation. Perhaps I should just go with the Doorman unit. It would be interesting to see if its internals are any different than the unit I currently own (such as master piston diameter and displacement).
At least north of the border, the Napa sold hydraulic system is made by Perfection. I believe the part# was PF9000. I used this on my 96 SL2 and it worked fine, and still is apparently for the guy that bought the car.
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