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Old 05-25-2018, 11:30 PM   #1
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FloraSL1 is on a distinguished road
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 12
Default SL1 TAAT transmission mystery

Hello everyone,

You may or may not have seen this story on another forum or two. I am admittedly posting on multiple Saturn forums in order to expose this problem to as many minds as possible. I'm desperate for a solution.

I also apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I feel that it is necessary to illustrate exactly where this problem has led me to and why I'm stuck.

The car: 2001 SL1 TAAT automatic transmission 83k miles.

History: I tracked this car down three years ago for my girlfriend to give to her oldest son for his first car. I live in Indianapolis. She lives in Illinois south of Effingham. To put the car even further away, her son is going to college in Carbondale, IL. The car has been brought back to Her house and I have been working on it, but every time I try something else to fix the problem it's a 4 hour round trip. I'm getting tired of guessing.

The original complaint was the car was not wanting to go into third gear, and was bucking/slamming. Reverse was never a problem.
Research pointed to the valve body. Visual inspection showed no burning or indications of the wiring harness failing. The fluid looked good and clean, and smelled normal.
I replaced the valve body, and the attitude of the car changed. It seemed to start off slowly, and it would occasionally slam shift. Again, reverse acted completely normal.
After coming back from the test drive I pulled transmission pan back off and retested the solenoids which all test normal. Post mortem on the old valve body revealed a bad third gear solenoid.

Observation of the car has shown it is starting out in third now. It slowly drags itself up to speed and only shifts once. trying to manually shift it back down into third or second with the gear selector doesn't work. I will not respond.

The next possible solution I was pointed to was a possible loose input shaft nut. That has been tightened to specifications, as well as the output shaft nut. The fluid and filter were changed at the same time for good measure. No change in the car. I can not find any evidence of actual damage or contamination. In addition, every major ground I can locate on the car has been cleaned and tightened.

Further research indicates that in order for first gear to engage, the solenoids for second, third, and fourth must all be energized. Logic is telling me that if the car is starting off in third, that there's a problem with the circuit for the second gear solenoid. Am I crazy or just confused?

The new valve body came with updated Sonnax solenoids. They all check out, however during a subsequent disassembly to try to figure out the continuing failure the solenoids were all moved to different positions. No change in the car's behavior.

The buss plate that connects the wiring harness to the solenoids was also swapped out with the original one, and no change in the car. Both the original and replacement were checked for continuity and passed.

The range selector switch has also been eliminated as a cause. You might be beginning to see the root of my confusion here. All of the usual suspects have been eliminated one by one. I'm out of horses and zebras, and now I'm hunting unicorns.

The car is in a town with very limited options for professional service. There is no specific transmission shop. It was taken to the only mechanic in town which gave it a blanket diagnosis after a test drive of "it needs a new transmission". I disagree due to a complete lack of evidence of damage.

So, first I would really appreciate any other opinions. Secondly, I am looking for specifications for the wiring harness as to what the wires do and what they should read for voltage. I really feel like this is a wiring problem.

Thanks for your time,


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