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Old 11-08-2006, 12:49 PM   #1
spiffious
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Default shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

Hey folks.

My wife drives our 5spd 2002 sl2 with 100k miles on it about 40 miles each way every weekday. When she got there in the morning yesterday, she was going up a hill and the shifter appearantly popped out of gear. Since that, shifting has been much more rough and stiff.

I took a look at the car this morning. With the car off and parked, I moved the shifter around and removed the console for a closer look. All the bushings and such I had been reading about today seemed to be fine. The shifter feels like it is a washboard or something moving fore and aft only. Left and right feels normal. I can get into every gear ok, but that forward or backward motion feels very rough.

Under the hood, I checked the other end of the cables. The lower cable seemed to be attached correctly and all, though when I was in 2nd, or 4th gear, the rubber covering that covers the cable itself became exposed. The other cable does not seem to do this.

Any ideas on what this could be? I doubt it is the clutch/hydros because clutch feels normal, and the problem occurs with the car off.

I appreciate any help!

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Old 11-08-2006, 01:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

I had the same problem with mine a few months ago. That rubber sheath that's pulled back is because the cable itself is backing away from the crimped end connector on the transaxle end. You'll need to replace the cables. It's a moderately finicky job, but can be done with basic tools. You should be able to find a used set at a wrecking yard for considerably less than what the dealership will sell to you for. You may want to consider picking up one of the shift bushings that are sold on E-Bay. I installed the delrin one, and it has smoothed things out considerably.

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Old 11-08-2006, 01:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

so cable replacement is really the only option here you think? Is there any danger of something fully breaking and leaving me or my wife stranded anywhere? Things are very busy and I don't have much free time at all right now. Currently my wife is driving my car, leaving me with the saturn. Can I still drive around a wee bit to get to class and work?

Are there any other ways that I can help the problem without replacing the cables? and, any writeups on the cables?

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Old 11-08-2006, 01:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

If that cable is showing bare braids through the sheath, it's on it's way out. I drove mine gingerly around for about a 2 weeks before I could get a chance to fix mine without any incident. I didn't use 2nd gear though. Also, I doubt there's any hard and fast rules for how long it will take for the cable to fail completely. Yours could go tomorrow, or next month. Just understand you're driving on borrowed time until it's fixed. And unless you can find a way to re-crimp the cable into the fitting and seal it back up again, replacement is the only option. Keep in mind these cables are crimped with about 2000lbs of force at the factory with pneumatic pressing machines.

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Old 11-08-2006, 02:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

I you're talking about the rubber boots on the end of the cables. People on here have replaced them with sections of bicycle tube. I'd try lubing the ends of the cables at the transmission before going to the trouble of replacing the cables.

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Old 11-08-2006, 04:47 PM   #6
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

interesting.... It is that rubber boot covering the end of the cable...
What kind of lube would be best to use, and any ideas on a good way to get down there and apply it?

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Old 11-09-2006, 12:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

It's kind of like taking a Halls cough drop for a severed artery. It might make you feel better, but in the end you're still going to bleed out. The boot has nothing to do with keeping your trans in gear.

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Old 11-09-2006, 10:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by spiffious
interesting.... It is that rubber boot covering the end of the cable...
What kind of lube would be best to use, and any ideas on a good way to get down there and apply it?
I'd probably take the cable ends loose and lube them with some lithium grease. If this helps even temporarily, you'll at least have positive confirmation that the cables are the problem which at this point is not a given.

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Old 11-09-2006, 11:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

While you're poking around that neck of the woods, look carefully at how the cable HOUSING is mounted to the transmission housing. There are spring-steel clips that hold the ends of the housing in place. Sometimes they pop off, which means there is no "relative" movement between the actual cable and the jacket. I could imagine if one were loose, it would make the movement of the actual cable within the jacket less precise, and might cause the tranny to pop out of gear. Just make sure everything down there is mounted firmly.

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Old 11-09-2006, 12:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGuy
It's kind of like taking a Halls cough drop for a severed artery. It might make you feel better, but in the end you're still going to bleed out. The boot has nothing to do with keeping your trans in gear.
That is somewhat true, but a bad/rough cable can keep the transmission from going completly into gear. If the boot was ripped or something, road stuffs could have gotten in the cable and not let the cable move far enough.

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Old 11-09-2006, 09:19 PM   #11
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

Thanks for the info folks. Any reccomendations on how best to access the trans end of the cables?

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Old 11-09-2006, 09:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

You should be able to reach both from the top, standing by the driver's side wheel, reaching down towards the back of the trans. They're near the top of the trans on the firewall side. Slide the boot back and check to see if there is bare cable showing between the sheath and the crimped fitting. If there is, it's time for new cables. Be sure to check with the shift lever in both the 1,3,5 and 2,4,R positions. I may not have tossed my old cables yet. If that's the case I'll post a picture of a fubar cable for you to compare.

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Old 11-09-2006, 10:54 PM   #13
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGuy
You should be able to reach both from the top, standing by the driver's side wheel, reaching down towards the back of the trans. They're near the top of the trans on the firewall side. Slide the boot back and check to see if there is bare cable showing between the sheath and the crimped fitting. If there is, it's time for new cables. Be sure to check with the shift lever in both the 1,3,5 and 2,4,R positions. I may not have tossed my old cables yet. If that's the case I'll post a picture of a fubar cable for you to compare.

That would be great!

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Old 11-10-2006, 04:11 PM   #14
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Default Re: shifter feels grindy? popped out of gear while driving

You'll def'ly want to remove the air intake snorkel. That'll help with seeing/reaching in there, but it's still pretty tight. The fore-aft cable is the lower one, and thus that much harder to reach. You might want to have one of those "magnet-on-a-wand" pickup tools handy, in case you pop a clip off and it goes someplace unreachable.

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