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Old 05-04-2019, 12:59 PM   #1
Jeanny
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Default 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Hi folks!

My car is a 2000 Saturn SW2 automatic with 90,900 miles on it. I had the transmission fluid changed about 1,000 miles (six months) ago.

Last night while I was going up a rather steep hill in Drive, the car was struggling. If it were a manual, I would have down-shifted, but the car wouldn't downshift (and since I don't know much about automatics, I didn't know if I should shift it into 2 or 3 while I'm in the middle of ascending a hill).

When I got to my destination, the car wouldn't reverse, the engine would just race when I depressed the accelerator. Fortunately I was able to go forward to get out of there and I made it home. I do not know if the hard time the car had getting up the hill is related to the car not reversing (I do live in hilly SW Penn, but I've never heard the car struggling to get up a hill before, but most of the hills I have to go up, you are starting from a standstill, unlike the one I was on last night, I was going about 40 when I hit the hill).

I've looked through other posts, I have no idea what "reverse slam" is but I've never had any problems until now so I don't think this is a factor. I have read other posts that said something about a nut needing to be tightened. I would put the car in my driveway to do it myself, but as I would need to back out, I just parked it on the street in case it didn't work. I don't want to work in the street, so I'll take it to the transmission shop. If he says I need a new transmission, I'm not going to do that, but if there are just minor adjustments, I'm fine with having him do that, but I want to have as much knowledge as I can before I go in.

Does it sound like the transmission is going out? Will I be fine driving to places where I just need forward gears?

Thanks,
Jeanny

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Old 05-04-2019, 03:50 PM   #2
billr
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Are you saying you are somewhat of a DIYer? It is not likely this can be diagnosed, much less repaired, economically if you take it to a shop.

Are any trouble-codes set, especially trans codes? I strongly urge using live-data to avoid a lot of guessing.

The Magic Nut (ISN, input shaft nut) can account for no R, but not the failure to downshift. On the other hand, no electrical problem will cause loss of R, but an electrical problem could prevent the lower forward gears from operating. Check the three trans fuses, and advise us of your skills/tools/ intentions regarding making this a DIY effort.

It seems that the majority of problems with these transmission require a rebuilt valve body to fix. It is an easy job to change that VB, but one I would recommend costs about $250.

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Old 05-04-2019, 06:48 PM   #3
Jeanny
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

I am not a great DIY, I rely a lot on help from this forum, YouTube, and my Haynes manual. Something that would take you an hour takes me a couple of days! I've changed the brakes many times, both front and back, and the alternator, windshield washer pump, shifter cables and the bushing holding the shift lever to the cables (this was on my manual, not my automatic, of course!), ECTS, spark plugs, and oil -- with guidance from a friend who knows more about cars than me, he'll tell me what to do but I do it myself, but it takes me a lot longer than it does you, since you know what you're doing! (I have gotten to the point where I can fix the brakes without his assistance, because I've done that many times). My biggest problem is not knowing WHERE I need to work -- the pictures and videos might be very clear, but they usually don't have a map telling you where to work. Everything assumes you already know what you're doing.

The check engine light did come on! I noticed it while I was on the steep hill, but I don't know if it was on before that. Is it safe for me to drive to AutoZone to have the codes read?

I don't have the tools, I do the work at my friend's who is a much more experienced DIY-er than me. If it's something we can do in the driveway in about a day, I'll do it (that is, it would take ME a day, it would take you an hour).

But if the repair will just cost about $250-$300, I also feel comfortable taking it to the trans shop. If the transmission is going, though, I do have access to a free transmission and can have that put in (I wouldn't do that myself!). I don't want to take it to the trans shop and being stuck with him taking it apart and telling me I need a new one and then having to spend $2,000.

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Old 05-04-2019, 07:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Does your friend have access to a code reader?
- Clarification, Billr's price of $250 was for a DIY, but I doubt local repair shops would/could do much of anything on a Saturn transmission for $300, unless that shop employed a former Saturn dealership tech. Most shops have no clue on the Saturn transmission and will talk about replacement rather than repair.

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Old 05-04-2019, 08:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

It sounds like you do have the skills and tools available to tackle this yourself, but I gotta ask... is there going to be a rush to get this car back into service? It may not be a fast process, as we may need to do a bit of Q&A as well as posting of pictures.

Does the friend who will help you have an air compressor? We may ask for "air checks" on the trans clutches/servo before recommending you splurge on a VB.

Same for a 300# pressure gauge, that would be used for checking the line-pressure.

If you only have to go a few miles to get the code scan, do it. Just be sure they are scanning for trans codes as well as the common engine codes.

Did you check the three trans fuses yet? After that, I would next have you checking voltages and resistances down at the connector on top of the trans cover, kind of under the battery.

Yes, $250 was just the cost of a good VB for you to install. I have no clue what a shop would charge to install it, much less do the trouble-shooting needed so there would be some confidence that the VB change would fix this.

I'll repeat, are you going to be in a rush to get this done?

PS: I assume you have checked the trans fluid level already and it is OK!

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Old 05-06-2019, 09:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

The Engine code: P0732 Gear 2 Incorrect Ratio. My mechanic can't read the transmission codes, the nearest transmission garage is a 20-mile round trip, so I didn't take it there.

Now that I have an engine code, I found another thread entitled "PO732 OBDII Code, No Reverse, PLEASE HELP!" which seems identical to my problem, and the instructions seem pretty clear (this forum wouldn't let me link to it until after I've made 15 posts or more). One poster said that 2nd gear and Reverse are on the same servo -- I don't know what that is, but it would explain both problems. Later, the thread talks about solenoid, line pressure, clutches, and input shaft nut, and that scares me slightly.

My friend DOES have an air compressor.

I did NOT check the trans fuses, fluid level or color because I had just had the fluid flushed and new filter installed about 6 months ago, but I will check that tomorrow as well and let you know if anything is bad (I can change the fuses myself, haha).

I am not in a rush to get this done, since I have kind neighbors, and live within walking distance to the store, church, school, and library.

About how long would it take someone who knows what they are doing?

Thanks so much for your help! I'm a stay-at-home mom, and now that I found out how much FUN it is to work on cars, I wish I'd gone to mechanics school rather than college!

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Old 05-07-2019, 12:46 AM   #7
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Going into the VB area is actually pretty easy, you don't even have to drain the fluid and the gasket for that cover is often re-usable. But first, there are some even easier things to look at:

1) Move the shift lever on the trans and feel for the "detented" positions for each gear; you may even have to disconnect the shift cable to be sure the arm is stopping at the detents. Manually move that lever to the position for R and D and drive the car to see how things behave. Doing the range-switch adjustment is not a substitute for check the detents, that adjustment must be done after you have verified that the shift cable is moving the trans lever properly to the detents. Hopefully you don not have ABS, as that ABS master-cylinder is kind of in the way of getting down where you need to be.

2) On top of the trans cover, kind of under the battery, is a 10-pin electrical connector. Disconnect the harness there and measure resistance on these pairs of pin on the trans connector. All should be in the 5-6 ohm range, and none should have continuity to the trans case ("ground"):
A-B
C-D
E-K
F-G
H-J
Yes, there are little-bitty letters molded into both connector halves, use a bright light and magnifier!
You should get R even if that connector is completely removed and the solenoids are inop, so it isn't likely that a solenoid is the only problem here.

3) Checking the hydraulic line-pressure is fairly easy, but will cost a bit. You will need a 300# gauge and fittings/hose to connect it to the 1/8" FPT port in the trans. That port is under the trans spin-on filter and has a small temperature sensor in it. It is the smaller of the two electrical sensors there, the other is the turbine-speed sensor. With the gauge in place, idle the engine with the trans in P; the pressure should be in the 50-100 psi range. Then, remove the LP fuse and the pressure should shoot up to 250+ psi. These values may vary according to the idle speed and trans fluid temperature, but if your are dramatically different post what you get.

4) Loss of R is often a result of a loose Input Shaft Nut (ISN), but getting in there to check that is more of a chore than opening the VB cover and doing some visual checks as well as the air-checks, so I would go into the VB area first. If one of the solenoid resistances is bad, then you have to go in there just to investigate/fix that.

5) So, the air-checks (we will advise separately how to do that) and visual show nothing? Then it is time to remove the trans side case and check the ISN. A chore that I would budget a full 8-hour day to, and even then may not get finished! For sure, have a new gasket on hand as well as some acetone, gasket sealer, and Loc-tite 680 or similar "fierce" thread-locker. those nuts are not supposed to be re-usable, but are no longer reasonable available. I find that no special tool is needed to hold the clutch, but you will need a thin-walled socket wrench (23mm ?); so thin you may need to grind the OD on whatever you can get. There are several other "gotchas" in this job, I won't scare you with those until you are ready to attack it. Yes, from what you said before, I still think you are capable of this, but it is good that you won't be in a rush!

OK, whether the ISN is loose or not, you are probably going to have to go back and replace the VB. Alas, that is usually the root problem with these transmissions. Although the VB is going to cost, the actual job is hardly any harder than removing the cover like you did for the air-checks; maybe an extra half hour. Three hours for the whole job, including battery R&R?

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Old 05-22-2019, 03:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Thanks to you guys (and You Tube), we replaced the valve body ... but it still didn't work! So we took it to a transmission guy. He said our work was good, but when he took it apart, there is something broken inside the transmission (sorry I don't know what, we were just talking on the phone and I didn't have paper & pencil handy), he couldn't get a replacement part. He tried to find a used transmission, but could only find one that has 300,000 miles on it but he doesn't recommend it (I don't think I'd buy one with that many miles on it either!).

I found one in Virginia that comes with a 6-month warranty, it has 43,000 miles for $700 from a 2002 S-Series AT DOHC (mine is a 2000 AT DOHC SW2. That seems expensive, but no matter, I can't afford to buy a new car. The transmission guy says I can't just put in any S-series transmission. I looked through the "Swap Guide" thread but there are so many posts in it, I couldn't find the answer!

Is this a crazy idea: I have a 1999 SC2 MT DOHC that I've been meaning to junk but just haven't gotten around to (the frame is shot and the entire muffler from to back needs to replaced). The engine still runs fine (I'd had the transmission replaced 5 years ago, it cost $250 for the trans and $250 for the labor (the junkyard did it for me). Is it possible to have the guy convert my SW2 to a manual with the parts in my SC2?

(I know the cars don't last forever, but I can't afford to buy a new car, and I think that repairing either my SW2 or SC2 is a better option than buying a new used car, otherwise I'm going to have to bicycle for the next year!

Thanks,
Jeanny

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Old 05-22-2019, 03:54 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Yes, it is entirely possible to convert this to a manual. You are already in a good position since both the donor and recipient cars are DOHC and gen3.

There may be some issues with codes being set, as your present PCM will be looking for inputs from and auto trans. The PCM could be reprogrammed, but that will probably involve a dealer and some cost, or it could be replaced with one from a JY. If you are really lucky, the PCM from the donor may fit/work with no fuss; I just don't know about that.

Along with bogus codes, cruise-control (and traction control, if you have it) may be affected. That would be the same fix, change or reprogram the PCM.

There are lots of folks that have done the auto=> manual conversion; lots of threads here and personal experience to pass on to you.

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Old 05-22-2019, 04:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

The '99 is not quite a Gen 3. It doesn't have the funky PCM under the hood.

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Old 05-22-2019, 05:26 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waiex191 View Post
The '99 is not quite a Gen 3. It doesn't have the funky PCM under the hood.
The SC2 is from the 2nd half of the model year, I know that makes a difference on some things with it.

Sounds like I should ask the trans guy to go for it, if he'll do it. THe SW2 has a solid frame.

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Old 05-22-2019, 07:47 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Do they both have a silver PCM box near the battery like the one hanging out of this car?

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Old 05-22-2019, 08:00 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Sorry, I got confused about the "gen3". I read about the potential $700 donor trans from a 2002 and got that locked in my mind.

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Old 05-22-2019, 08:30 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Auto to manual swap into a gen-3 is a major PITA if you actually want it to be code free. It may actually cost real money to make this happen.

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Old 05-22-2019, 10:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Is it the PCM that is going to be the hassle?

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Old 05-23-2019, 09:46 AM   #16
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Well, I was able to find a 2000 AT tran closer and cheaper than the one in VA! My mechanic will install it for $700, so though I'd MUCH rather have a manual (I was starting to dream again how much fun it is to drive a manual!) I will just have him install the AT.

I found it on car-part.com, he just called me this morning and said he COULDN'T find one, but he was looking specifically for an SW2 -- he said they aren't interchangeable with other S-Series, but I think he's wrong on that, but he insists! I don't know what specific car the other trans came from, other than that it is a 2000 S-series.

I only looked at 2000, is any S-Series later than 2000 compatible with my 2000 SW2?

Thanks!

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Old 05-23-2019, 10:02 AM   #17
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

There are only 2 different auto trans, One for the SOHC engine and one for the DOHC engine. Other than the axle seals you can use any automatic from any year 94 and newer. If you want a good one call here. Call only! http://www.saturnautosalvage.com/ a 99 0r 2000 vintage out of any low mileage DOHC would be my choice and install new axle seals.

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Old 05-23-2019, 11:47 AM   #18
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

If you really want a manual, then I urge you to go for the change. You don't regularly get caught in stop/go traffic where the manual will soon get to be a nuisance?

The manual can probably be done, with a new clutch, for about the same as the auto, and will be more reliable.

I am, however, a bit worried about you relying on a shop that doesn't seem too knowledgeable. There are fairly easy ways to determine what fits into any kind of car, so this being a Saturn really isn't a valid excuse. You don't really want somebody just "winging it" to do this swap. There are several little details that will need attention to make this come out satisfactory for you. Somebody not willing to do a bit of research/learning would not be my choice.

It sounds like the PCM is the main hassle, and worst case is you get a "rebuilt" one pre-programmed for your exact configuration. I recently had to get one for a '94, it was $150. Maybe a dealer will program yours for less.

I would also suggest getting the "diff pin" locking improved. It would be a shame to get either trans in there and then have the diff pin come loose and destroy the trans. If you are banging shifts with your fun new manual, I think it is even more likely the diff pin may come loose...

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Old 05-23-2019, 01:00 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

Yes, I did think it weird that he couldn't find any trans when I could easily, but he said he was looking for low-mileage and only from an SW2. He is a transmission-only shop that was recommended to me by three different garages, maybe he's just not familiar with Saturns.

He said that he COULD put my manual transmission in, but he'd have to charge me for two jobs because he would have to put the other transmission back in the SC2. I told him I didn't want to put a trans back in a car I was going to junk but he said he needed to so he could drive it out of his garage. I don't know why a tow truck couldn't just pull it out. He did say I could think about this over the weekend so I've got time. There are a couple other transmission shops around, I'll see if one of them would do the swap and not charge me for two.

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Old 05-23-2019, 03:11 PM   #20
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Default Re: 2000 Saturn SW2 won't go into reverse

They are not familiar with a Saturn. It must be out of a Sx-2 and install new axle seals. The place I linked will ship and it may not be that expensive and even Car-Part has the correct trans listed.

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2000 Saturn L series V6 manual transmission stuck in reverse gord1725 L-Series Tech 3 01-11-2010 01:26 PM
2000 Saturn SL2 wont reverse... sheena477 S-Series General 3 12-12-2006 01:09 AM


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